I have not been very comfortable with prayer! Jesus said in Matthew 6:8 (GW) “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” and so fervent prayer didn’t make sense. Would not a simple prayer be enough as He already knew everything? Unfortunately my life turned upside down in an unexpected way and I don’t seem to be able to turn it the right way up how much ever I try. Churches, family and friends have been unable to help, one of the main reasons being that Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship is involved! LEF doesn’t seem to mind my life being turned upside down as long as I don’t return to LEF. The Daniels keep slandering me. So I have no other choice but to cry out to God for help and recently I have been meditating on what the Bible speaks about effective fervent prayer.
James 5:17,18 (ISV) says “Elijah was a person just like us, and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and rain never came to the land for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the skies poured out rain, and the ground produced its crops.” In 1 Kings 17:1 (ESV) we read Elijah saying to King Ahab “as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” Then in 1 Kings 18:1 (ESV), we read that God tells Elijah “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” Elijah presents himself to Ahab, sets up a showdown with the priests of Baal and God proves Himself to be the true God. Elijah then says that a storm was approaching, fervently starts praying and sends his servant seven times to check till a small cloud appears. It seems strange that Elijah prays fervently after God had personally promised rain and he had just won the big showdown.
Daniel and many others had been brought captive to Babylon in 605 BC (Daniel 1:1-6). Nearly 70 year later (539BC), Daniel 5:30,31 (GW) tells us that “King Belshazzar of Babylon was killed. Darius the Mede took over the kingdom.” Although Cyrus was the Persian king, it appears that Darius ruled a few years before Cyrus took control. More than hundred years earlier Isaiah had prophesied even before Jerusalem was captured that “it will be inhabited”, and of Judah’s cities “they will be rebuilt”, and of her ruins, “I’ll raise them up”. (Isaiah 44:26). He even prophesied of Cyrus before he was born, “He’s my shepherd, and he’ll carry out everything that I please: He’ll say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of my Temple, “Let its foundations be laid again.”” (Isaiah 44:26). In Jeremiah 29:10 (ISV) the Lord said, “When Babylon’s seventy years are completed, I’ll take note of you and will fulfill my good promises to you by bringing you back to this place.” In Jeremiah 25:12 (ISV) the Lord said “When seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation.” Daniel seeing all these incidents with his own eyes writes “In the first year of Darius … I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” Daniel 9:1,2 (ESV). Instead of celebrating the imminent release of his people, Daniel writes in verse 3 “I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” In verse 19 he prays “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” Daniel’s prayer was answered soon as we see in Ezra 1:1-3 (ESV) ” In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus prayed always and instructed the disciples to pray. In Luke 6:12 (GW), we read “Jesus went to a mountain to pray. He spent the whole night in prayer to God. When it was day, he called his disciples. He chose twelve of them and called them apostles.” In Luke 18:1 (ISV) “Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray all the time and never give up.” The parable is about a widow who repeatedly bothers a judge till she gets justice and Jesus strangely gives us this widow’s example to get justice from God. Jesus’ prayers inspired His disciples and in Luke 11:1 (ISV) we read “Once Jesus was praying in a certain place. After he had finished, one of his disciples told him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”” That is how we got the Lord’s Prayer! Just before His betrayal and arrest Jesus “knelt down, and began to pray … in his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like large drops of blood falling on the ground.” Luke 22:41b,44 (ISV). Jesus found His disciples sleeping and told them, “So, you men couldn’t stay awake with me for one hour, could you? All of you must stay awake and pray that you won’t be tempted.” Matthew 26:40b,41a (ISV).
Although Elijah and Daniel had the clear promises of God, they prayed fervently with fasting that God may fulfil His promise. Although Jesus was the Son of God, He was always praying. God has given me great promises that He will turn my life around and make it better. “You must not fear, for I am with you; you must not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, indeed I will help you, indeed I will take hold of you with the right hand of my salvation. Look! All those who are angry with you shall be ashamed and humiliated; your opponents shall be like nothing and shall become lost. You shall seek them, but you shall not find them; your opponents shall be like nothing, and the men of you war like nothing. For I, Yahweh your God, am grasping your right hand; it is I who say to you, “You must not fear, I myself, I will help you.” Isaiah 41: 10-14 (LEB). It feels strange that I need to pray when God has promised great victory but I don’t want to sit back and relax.As James 5:16 (KJV) says “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”, I want to imitate the example of the people of prayer and see God’s promises being fulfilled in my life.
So if God has given you a promise, don’t sit back and relax. Pray till the promise is fulfilled. Don’t worry if you don’t have a specific promise to your problem. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ISV) says “I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope. When you call out to me and come and pray to me, I’ll hear you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” So insist that God fulfils His promise and see firsthand that that “the insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective” just as the World English Bible translates James 5:16.