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FERVENT PRAYER!

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
with material by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan
preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 23, 2019

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).


Dr. Henry M. Morris said that “effectual fervent” is one word in Greek (energeo) meaning “energizing” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, Word Publishing Company, 1995, p. 1391; note on James 5:16). We could paraphrase the word “energeo” as, “The energized, desperate, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” “Availeth” means “can do” (Strong). So we could give the text as “The energized, desperate, fervent prayer of a righteous man can do much.” Dr. John MacArthur, though wrong on the Blood of Christ, was correct when he said of this verse, “The energetic, passionate prayers of godly men have the power to do much” (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Bibles, 1997, p. 1935; note on James 5:16).

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Where does this energized, desperate, fervent prayer come from? How can you pray this way? The answer is simple. You will pray this way when you seriously and fervently want and need what you’re praying for! If you don’t want it badly, you won’t pray fervently for it. Sure, you’d like to have it, but you don’t long for it in your heart. You may say a few words of prayer at home, or in a meeting. But you don’t want it seriously and you don’t pray a fervent, energetic prayer.

When people really need something, they often say, “I’ve got to have it. I can’t bear to be without it.” That’s what people say when they’re in love. “I can’t make it without her. I’ve got to be with her. I’ve got to have her.” A man in love will do anything for the woman he loves. He thinks about her all the time. He’ll do anything to please her. He’ll take her out. He’ll buy her things. He’ll do anything to have her. That’s love. He really loves and wants and needs that woman. So he thinks about her a lot and with feeling. Even during the day when he’s not with her, he thinks about her. He wants her and he needs her.

That’s the way it is in prayer. If you see and feel your need, you will pray with energy. You will pray fervent, serious, earnest, desperate prayers. “Oh God, I’ve got to have it. I’m in a terrible state without it. I need you. Only you, God, can give it to me. Please, God, help me. Give me what I want. I beg you, God, give it to me!” You may pray with great feeling and tears. You will pray over and over again. You will pray by yourself and you will pray with other Christians. It’s almost like you can’t stop praying. Sometimes you can hardly think of anything else. The thought keeps coming back to you, “Oh, God, I’ve got to have it.” That is real prayer. Do you ever pray like that?

Fervent prayer “can do much” – because God can do anything! The Bible says, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Do you believe in God or don’t you? If you pray, God can do anything.

God can move worlds in answer to prayer. In the middle of a battle Joshua prayed, “Sun, stand thou still” (Joshua 10:12). And God made the sun stand still! Joshua didn’t have the power to do that. Joshua’s prayer didn’t make it happen. There was no gigantic power in Joshua or his prayer. The power was in God. God did it in answer to Joshua’s prayer.

God can change the weather in answer to prayer. He can stop the rain and He can bring the rain, in answer to prayer. Our text says,

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

In the very next verse, the Bible says,

“Elias [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:17, 18).

God can send revival in answer to fervent prayer. He has done that many times. In Germany (Saxony) Nicholas von Zinzendorf, a 27-year-old count, was discouraged at the lack of spiritual life among the nine girls in his Bible class. He began to pray fervently for them. Brian Edwards said that Zinzendorf’s fervent prayers,

…led directly to the revival that began on 13 August 1727: truly the great Moravian revival of 1727, which reached its climax on August 13, was preceded and followed by most extraordinary praying…many other brethren began to pray as never before…At midnight there was held…a large meeting for the purpose of prayer at which great emotion prevailed (Revival! A People Saturated With God, Evangelical Press, 1997 edition, p. 78).

The great Moravian revival of 1727 in Germany spilled forth into the First Great Awakening, which under Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield, Wesley and others, brought countless thousands into real conversion, and changed the course of Western civilization for the next hundred years. It came in answer to fervent prayer!

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Fervent prayer – with your energy in it, because you want what you’re praying for – is a part of the Christian life. To teach His Disciples about prayer, Jesus said,

“Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves” (Luke 11:5).

The man didn’t go to his friend during the day when people did business. He went to his friend at midnight. He was serious. He was fervent. He really wanted those three loaves of bread. Again, Christ said,

“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me” (Luke 18:2-5).

The woman went to the judge again and again. The judge was not a good man. But she kept coming to him until he got tired of her. Then he granted her request. That woman was serious about what she wanted. She was fervent. She was energetic. And she got what she wanted!

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Here is an example from my own life. Years ago I needed to refinance my house. That is, I needed a new loan on the house. I went to a bank and everything looked good for a while. Then one problem after another came up. No matter what I did, there was always another problem and another delay. It was just plain stuck.

I prayed fervently to God. In my prayer – out loud – I paraphrased Luke 11:11-12. I said to God, “You said if a son asks his father for bread he won’t give him a rock. I wouldn’t do that. You won’t. You said if he asks for a fish he won’t give him a snake. If he asks for an egg he won’t give him a scorpion. I wouldn’t do that. And you won’t do that either. You’re not like that. You’re not mean. You said you wouldn’t do that. Give me what I need. Jesus told us to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ And that’s what I’m doing. I’m praying for what I need. I’m praying the way Jesus told me. You won’t give me a rock. God, give me what I need. Give me that loan.” And God did it! The loan went through quickly, as though there was never a problem. God answered my prayer!

Application

We have something important to pray for in our church. We are going to start a new church in the San Gabriel Valley. But we must sell this building to get the money to buy the new one. We need to pray for this building to be sold quickly, and at a good price.

God can certainly do it! If God can move worlds, change the weather, and send history-changing revivals, He can certainly get this building sold. Amen!

You may think, “That will happen by itself. It’s just a business deal. No need to pray for that.” No, it will not happen by itself. The Devil doesn’t want us to start a new church. And humanly, the real estate market here isn’t as strong as it was a year ago. No, it won’t happen by itself.

You may think, “That’s not spiritual. Do we need to pray for a business deal?” My friends, it is spiritual. If we don’t sell this building, we won’t be able to buy a new church building and start a church in the San Gabriel Valley. We won’t be able to evangelize there and bring people to Jesus as we should. Absolutely, we need to pray for this! It is right and spiritual to pray for our business needs. They are part of what we need, aren’t they? I just told you I had a business deal that didn’t happen until God answered my prayer. That wouldn’t have happened without God. And so we need to pray for this building to be sold. That is part of our “daily bread.” It’s what we need. This will not happen by itself. We need to pray to God to make it happen.

Will you pray fervently for this need of our church? Some of you do, but some don’t. Why not? Some of you don’t fast for the sale of this building. And you won’t fast for the new church. You could fast, but you don’t. Why not? You could pray fervently, but you don’t. Why not?

Someone may not want to start a new church. You think, “I can stay right here. And how would I get there? Why go to all that trouble?” You don’t pray fervently, with energy, for this building to be sold. Don’t think just about yourself, but about everyone else. What is best for the congregation? With God’s help the new church will be far better than this church here. And yes, there will be a way for you to get there.

Someone may be indifferent. You’ll go along for the ride, but that’s all. You may think, “Yes, I’ll go when we move to the other building. But it’s no big deal to me.” The new church doesn’t matter to you. You do not pray fervently for this building to be sold.

Someone may want to go to the San Gabriel Valley – but not very much. You’re looking forward to being in a different place. You’d like to see the new building. You’d like to meet the people who live out there. You’d like to see what’s different in the new church. You’re curious. Yes, you’d like to go. You might even say a prayer.

But do you really want to start the new church? Is it important to you? Do you fast for it? Do you fast for this building to be sold? If you don’t, you aren’t serious. That’s why your prayers aren’t fervent. They have no energy. I pray that you will see our need, and that you will pray and fast fervently.

Many of you do pray and fast. I have heard some of you pray fervent, heartfelt prayers in our prayer meetings. Thank you and God bless you. I hope your prayers will become even more deep and heartfelt, more fervent, and more energetic. Pray out in our prayer meetings. Pray every day in your private prayer time. Pray often during the day for this building to be sold, as you think of it. And be sure to fast. When you fast, each time you feel hunger, pray for this building to be sold.

Don’t stop until God answers. You may have to keep praying, but God will answer. We have a prayer-answering God who loves us. Think of God’s promises in the Bible about answering prayer. Think of how He answered prayers in the Bible. Think of how He has answered prayers for you. And when you pray, tell God these things. Yes, He knows them. But it will increase your faith when you pray.

Think of how important it is that we sell this building. Ask God to help you pray fervently, with energy. I believe you will. May God help you to do it.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Some of you have not trusted Jesus. Though He died on the Cross to pay for your sin, though He shed His Blood to wash your sin away, still you ignore Him. You might like to trust Christ and be forgiven, but you don’t desire it much. You don’t see your sin for the wickedness it is. You don’t strive for your salvation. Jesus said,

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).

If you only “seek” to enter in with a light interest, Christ said that you “shall not be able.” I pray that you will see and feel your sin and “strive to enter in” to Christ. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.