“The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” James declared (5.6). God is not interested in mindless chatter, religious repetition, or lazy meaningless liturgy. What our Father really wants are people who pray passionately, thoughtfully, and expectantly.
Think of Abraham. When God told him that Sodom was about to be destroyed, Abraham engaged in a passionate conversation with God. “Will not the judge of all the earth do righteously? Surely You’ll not destroy the city if there are fifty righteous people in the city,” he said.
And God said, “if there are fifty righteous people, I won’t.”
Abraham, came back and said, “If there are forty-five righteous people in the city, surely You’ll not destroy it, will You?”
“No,” said God.
“What about forty?” countered Abraham. “Thirty, twenty, ten?”
“Even if there are ten righteous men, I won’t destroy the city,” God replied.
What boldness and passion of Abraham to bargain with God. There was dialogue and desperation, intensity and sincerity. Abraham’s relationship with God wasn’t based on religion, morning devotions or a church service. It was based on passion. And as a result, God called him His friend (James 2:23).
I am reminded of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. In his own hour of need, Jacob grabbed God and said, “I’m not going to let You go until You bless me.” And there they were, rolling in the dirt by the brook Jabok, wrestling all night long. When morning broke, Jacob was broken as well. But the Lord said, “You’ve prevailed. And My blessing is upon you” (Genesis 32)
A lot of us have lost our passion with God. Devotions have become drowsy, Prayer, if we bother, is routine and repetitious chatter. But there is good news: Jesus advocates for us daily before the Father, and his defense for us is the passion of the cross. So, next time you’re in prayer, remember our father Abraham, or perhaps recall the struggle of Jacob, wrestling with God all night long, and remember, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Al Lippincott, Chaplain