The Lord has given us a spirit boldness and we are expected to use it. As First John 4:17 asks us “therefore, brothers, having boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus.” If we are asked to have a spirit of boldness to do something as daring as entering into the Holy of Holies, the very presence of the Living God, then we can come to the Lord in prayer too, with boldness.
James 1:5-8 also gives us advice on how to approach God, saying “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and with no reproach, and it shall be given to him. But let him ask in faith, doubting nothing. For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. For do not let that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, not dependable in all his ways.” James is saying there that we need to come before the Lord in a positive manner, with our thoughts focussed and not in doubt – not double-minded.
But this is not how many pray, or have been taught to pray. Instead they typically end their prayers with the phase “… if it be Your will, God?”
Such prayers are amorphous, woolly, nebulous asking for nothing in particular, and typically that is the answer they will solicit.
James 1:5 makes it very clear indeed that is we are in doubt “let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and with no reproach, and it shall be given to him.” God wants us to hear Him, just as much as He wants to hear from us, so for effective prayer, it needs to be a two way street. We talk to God and we listen to God, then we pray. Then the prayer can be a conversation with God. By then the momentum has built and we can move forward and as we listen, we can pray in accordance with the words and ideas which God is giving us. Yes, sometimes there are long silences – but these are for our benefit. We need to show obedience. We need to wait upon the Lord: having patience.
If conversation with God is serious, so too be definition must prayer. James 5:16 says “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.” The word ‘effectual’ should properly be translated as energetic, which is derived from it. Energetic here implies that it has power, power which is its own innate nature and is capable of producing an effect, or a change. It is not that it will actually produces an effect or a change, but is capable of doing so. The type of prayer referred to here is not listless, not indifferent, not cold, not lifeless – as if there were no vitality in it or power in it. Instead, it is changed to be efficient – earnest, sincere, hearty, persevering and ultimately, effective.
Amen and Amen.