The passionate praying of one right with God is very powerful.
When the apostle James speaks of “effective praying, “he is referring to prayers that get YES answers. The “righteous” person here in v. 16 is the one who has believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, whose sins are forgiven and who has actually by faith “become the righteousness of God” in Christ. The Father will listen to such a person just as readily as He will His “only begotten Son.”
Jesus, the Supreme Example
I believe the apostle is seeking to impress his readers concerning the need for passionate praying. This is how Jesus prayed. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission” (Heb. 5:7, NIV). Westcott the scholar quotes a rabbinic saying that there are three kinds of prayers, each more powerful than the preceding: silent prayer; speaking and crying out; and tears. Passionate praying can include both the crying out and the tearful praying. Such praying is not merely noted in Heaven, but answered — and usually answered in the affirmative. From the structure of Hebrews 5:7 (“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth”), I do not believe that Jesus’ tears in prayer were restricted to His agony in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44) and His compassion for the grieving (John 11:35). I am convinced that the inspired writer had access to some unrecorded facts of Jesus’ pattern of passionate praying. Much of the Lord’s great prayer of John Seventeen is given in the language of tears.
Elijah Eliminates an Element
Note that Elijah prayed “earnestly (fervently, emotionally, passionately) that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years” (v. 17). The prophet was not divine, nor was he superhuman; he was as human as the rest of us. However, when he prayed passionately that it would not rain (in keeping with the divine decree of judgment), it did not rain.
In 1 Chronicles 4:10 we read that “Jabez prayed fervently: ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested”. Most people miss Jabez in the scanning of the long list of names here in I Chronicles. Most of the names in this long list merely appear with no distinguishing comments. Their names for the most part never appear again. But the name of Jabez demands attention. The divinely inspired historian is compelled to explain this man above the others. We don’t know about his wealth, his family, or his honors. But we do know in what he excelled: he was a man who prayed. He prayed earnestly that he would be blessed personally. He called out daringly for great personal blessings — not something small. He prayed passionately that God would “enlarge my territory.” I think Jabez is praying here for a greater influence for God, knowing greater opportunities will result in increased responsibilities. But he wants his life to count; he wants to make his mark for God.
Moses Maneuvers Magnificence
Moses learned the effectiveness of passionate prayer. “Now show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18). He was willing to desperately cry out, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (vv. 15-17). God was so pleased with this kind of praying that He answered, “I will do the very thing you have asked …” (v. 17).
Hannah’s Heartfelt Harangue
Hannah prevailed with God through passionate prayer. “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:10). She kept this up until the Lord heard and gave her a son. Hannah’s desire for a son was far more than the instinctive longing to hold her own baby in her arms. She was a holy woman and sensed the backsliding and corruption of her nation. Hannah knew that the priesthood was corrupt, that judgment was on its way unless there was a turning back to God. Her passion for a son was her way of telling God that she would pour herself into that baby and then give him back to God to lead the revival so desperately needed. In due time, God answered Hannah’s prayer and gave her a son. And through Samuel, God gave the nation a mighty revival.
Passionate or Passive?
Every pastor in America needs to get down to fervent prayer about revival in his or her church. We must get into passionate praying. We must learn how to pray through on revival. We used to hear about “praying through” more than we do today. Praying through means that we have prevailed in prayer to the point that we know we have been heard, that God is pleased with our prayer, and that the answer is on its way. Praying through means the kind of sanctified stubbornness and holy audacity in our praying that God honors, because such an attitude is the work of the Holy Spirit in our own praying hearts in the first place. Praying through means that we have been praying God’s agenda, not our own selfish interests. Praying through means that we are praying Kingdom interests, not our own. Praying through means that we have been pleading the promises of the Holy Word, and that God has honored our refusal to be denied.
Dear ones, I don’t care what we have going for us in our churches today; nor do I care what is arrayed against us. If we aren’t into passionate praying, one thing should be clear: we are not going to see revival. A. B. Simpson built his powerful ministry on God’s promise to Jeremiah (33:3): “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (NKJV). This promise is valid today, begging some leader to test it. Calling on the Lord must get beyond the casual and the formal and become passionate. It must become regular and frequent. It must become sacrificial and consuming. And then we’ll begin to see things and feel things and know things and say things and do things not merely of ourselves. Yes, He will show us things that we have not known. He’ll give us fresh oil, fresh fire. He will turn up the heat. The church and the community will know that the Lord’s servant has been in His Presence. He will pour out His Spirit and the people will tremble before the Lord. The people of God will be renewed. The lost will be found. The sick will be healed. Those in bondage will be delivered. There will come a new God-consciousness throughout the entire community.
We need some Upper Room saints who will “pray through” on revival, on the salvation of sinners, on the sanctification of believers, on the will of God for His people and on the anointing of the Holy Spirit for Christian messengers and witnesses. We know that this critical ministry will not attract a majority of the membership; it’s the humble minority, the holy remnant, the anointed few to whom we appeal:
Ask God to fill you anew with the Holy Spirit and give you a bold faith that overcomes the world, moves mountains and makes devils tremble. Plead the promises of God to send revival, heal the sick, release the oppressed, deliver those in bondage and build the Kingdom of God. Let us pray to be so energized by the Holy Spirit that we shall stay on our knees in surrender to the sovereignty of God until Pentecostal gales blow across all the churches in our city and community. Let us ask for a holy desperation on us that will not allow us to come out until He sends the wind and fire of Pentecost!
Can’t we see that our failure to engage in persistent, passionate, prevailing prayer is why revival tarries! This is why so many of our churches are desert wastelands. They are so lifeless and irrelevant that it is the last place the people want to go. They’ll take their chance on finding meaning almost anywhere except in one of our church services. This has to change! This must change! But there’s only one way it can change —
Christians, with pastors leading the way, must surrender to the Holy Spirit for new discoveries in the ministry of prayer. We have to become humble, broken, before the Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit, weep the tears of Jesus. When this passion becomes a pattern, and others begin to follow, it will be the Lord’s time to reveal Himself. And that is revival in itself — a fresh revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to His people!