by Doug Hazen
For years I’ve looked at James 5:16 and wished I could be more effective in prayer.
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
“I’m certainly not that effective,” I reason. “I’ve not seen much in the way of big miracles through my prayer and no mountains have been moved.”
“And don’t forget, Scum,” I hear Satan whisper, “you’re not very righteous either.”
Satan’s accusations don’t worry me. A bit of scripture like Romans 5:17 tells the Enemy and reminds me that I’ve been given the gift of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. I AM a righteous man! But the effective piece was troubling to me–at least, until recently. I thought of several effective prayers that God answers every time. Guaranteed. Whether you pray them or some big name Elijah-type does, they will be answered. Always.
1. The prayer of repentance.
I love the image of the father running to the prodigal son BEFORE his son had verbally confessed his sin. The father evidently knew if the son was returning, he had already repented. That father is a picture of our heavenly Father. As soon as we have a change of heart about our sin, he forgives. Our prayer of repentance is simply a verbal follow-through to what has already taken place in the heart. And God hears it. Every time. 1 John 1:9 makes God’s answer to our prayer even more impressive. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Talk about an effective prayer answered! Guaranteed. It’s done!
2. The prayer for harvest workers.
When I took my present position with WorldVenture I turned to Matthew 9:37-38 for insight into how to pull it off. Our Mobilization Ministries team had already been impressed with the power of those verses. While we were strategizing one day about how to raise up more workers for the global harvest, God showed up and effectively said, “Why don’t you try my plan…
“Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send workers into his harvest.”
The change was immediate as prayer became our central strategy for finding new workers. Nothing defines effective prayer better than prayer ordered by God himself. But as I studied those verses, it was even more impressive than I had thought. The word for prayer is the type that pleads or begs. It is desperate prayer based on a God-given compassion for broken people (verse 36). But God’s response is staggering. He promises to “drive” people into the harvest in response to my prayer. The word used is the same one used over thirty times in the gospels for driving out demons! While not that intense in 9:38, it is still a strong word and an incredible promise. My prayer for harvest workers is God’s answer to the brokenness of this world. And when I pray, he answers. Guaranteed. No doubt whatsoever. It’s done! It is an effective prayer.
3. The prayer of worship.
I love this one! How many times in the Psalms alone are we asked if not commanded to worship or praise the Lord? Psalm 113 is a good example: “Praise the Lord.” That’s how it starts!
Psalm 148 pulls the whole universe into the command. Everything, including my goats, are commanded to praise the Lord! Again, if God is asking this of me, my prayer is effective. I worship God and he rewards me with a greater sense of his presence. The end result is joy.
I learned this recently from a special speaker at a men’s camp I attended. The speaker told the story of a Christian leader who went to a conference perhaps to speak and was really discouraged–so much so that it was noticeable. Another man walked up to him and said, “I know how you can beat that!” The leader was skeptical. But the man continued, “Take a walk, raise your hands to God and repeat 10 times, ‘I worship you’.”
“Right,” the leader said sarcastically.
But the man persisted, and the next morning, asked the leader if it had worked.
“No,” the leader said. And then he smiled. “It took 25 times!”
Worship is effective prayer. God responds to it. Every time. Never fails. Guaranteed.
There are other effective prayers but this is a good start. The prayer of repentance, prayer for workers and prayer of worship are effective. Your prayer and mine as righteous followers of Jesus is always answered probably because God is the One asking us to pray those prayers. If he is asking, he will answer. Every time. Guaranteed. It’s done!
About Doug Hazen:
Doug Hazen is a happy father of six, grandfather of 12 (waiting for the phone to ring for the 13th!) and married to a beautiful farm girl who has added sheep, goats and chickens to the family portfolio. Doug and Ruth live in Elkton, Oregon with their two adopted children (yes, people in their 60’s CAN do the impossible!) after raising their four grown kids. Their story includes pastoring for 8 years and a four-year missions term in Congo, Africa during the Rwanda genocide years. Doug has served WorldVenture, a mission and humanitarian organization (www.worldventure.com), for 25 years and is presently the National Director of Mobilizing Prayer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.