Q. Re: James 5:16. I am wondering how one prays an “effectual fervent” prayer? Does God require a certain level of emotion (fervency) to see prayer answered? How does one motivate oneself to such a level of intensity? Does it apply to certain kinds of prayer or all types?
A. The dictionary defines effectual as “producing or capable of producing an intended effect” and fervent as “having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, enthusiasm.” In James 5:16 they are both translated from a single Greek word, energeo. It means “to be operative, to put forth power.”
Intensity, rather than emotion, is what’s called for. It stems from an unshakable belief that can only be generated from the knowledge that God is both capable and cooperative in response to our prayers. It’s the kind of prayer we rarely see in the Church today.
Through out the New Testament we’re told that the intensity of our faith is the most important ingredient in our prayers. In James 5:16 the context is healing. Believing without hesitation that God is both willing and able to heal us helps make our prayers for healing effectual and fervent. That kind of belief can only come from the diligent study of His word and the experience of living by it. James said without it we’ll be uncertain when we pray and shouldn’t expect anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7).
It’s not popular to even talk about healing in many parts of the Church today, and there are those who claim the Lord doesn’t do that anymore. I dare say most Christians today have never seen a miraculous healing, let alone experienced one. But that’s not because the Bible says the Lord stopped doing that. Therefore it must be because as a Church we stopped believing He can.