During a recent devotional time, one word came forcefully to my mind—effective. While praying and meditating on this concept, I was reminded of James 5:16, which speaks of a powerful and effective prayer life:
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV).
One area where most Christians feel a need for improvement (besides patience) is our prayer life. I have never known anyone who claimed to be content with the time invested or complete effectiveness of their prayers.
James’ role model for prayer was Elijah the prophet. The apostle was so obviously impressed with the effectiveness of Elijah’s prayer life that he sought to follow his example. Tradition tells us that James was nicknamed “camel knees” because his fervent dedication to prayer caused calluses to develop on his knees.
Yet contrary to what many believe, the Bible does not encourage long, pious , or public prayers. Instead, the effectiveness of our prayers is emphasized. An effective prayer involves praying with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3–4). According to Peter, preventing ineffectiveness includes a lifelong pursuit of an increasing demonstration of godly characteristics such as goodness, self-control, godliness, and love (2 Peter 1:5–8). Essentially, our prayer life will be a reflection of our personal relationship with God.