Prayer is the most common activity of the true children of GOD. The scripture says; "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Gal 4:6) Just as it is natural for a child to cry out for its mother or father so it is the normal thing for the children of GOD to call on their FATHER. The gifts and callings which the LORD gives to his children are varied in scope and application but all of HIS children, without exception, share this common trait. Satan may often rob the LORD’s people of comfort, he may even sift us as wheat, but he can never destroy this innate gift that we all have been given to call out to our heavenly FATHER.
Prayer is essentially worship, (see Acts 16:13), and one must begin to pray with that in mind. Our LORD gave us that example in HIS model prayer when HE began by saying "Our FATHER which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name". (Mat.6:9). But prayer also includes praise, thanksgiving, and intercession or supplication (asking). Because we are such needy people, most of our time in prayer is spent in the latter endeavor. GOD has been so gracious to recognize our need and has encouraged and even admonished us to be bold in our approach to HIM when we ask. (see Heb.4:16; Jas.4:2) Quite often our prayers seem to fall back to the earth without effect. Prayer always produces results, but those results are not necessarily what we want. (see II Cor.12:7-8). Yet we have the example given of Elijah (see Jas.5:17-18) who prayed and received exactly what he asked for. He is given as an illustration of one who prayed a fervent prayer which was effectual (i.e., brought about the desired result). What is a fervent prayer?
A fervent prayer begins with a fervent pray-er. The FATHER demands that we be given wholeheartedly to whatever endeavor we undertake. (see Rev. 3:16). HE seeks men to worship HIM with passion, eagerness, and authenticity. (see Jn.4:23) Half-hearted prayer is useless. Elijah prayed as if his life depended on it, because it did (see I Kgs. 18:41-46). We must be people who are dead serious about seeking the LORD. Religious games and attempts to impress others with our supposed spirituality carry no weight in the kingdom of GOD. True prayer involves an investment of ourselves. See the example of our LORD in Luke 22:44.
Fervent prayer is focused on a particular request. Elijah prayed for rain. It is very common to hear men pray what I call "shotgun prayers" which are prayers that attempt to include everyone but don"t center on anyone. An example would be to pray for all the missionaries at home and abroad, help everyone who is sick and afflicted, keep everybody safe and meet everybody’s needs. Such a prayer is weak at best, because it has no focal point and is not the outpouring of a heart in touch with specific needs. Our LORD did not pray for all men but for those who were given to HIM by the FATHER. (see Jn.17:9-10). It is better to pray well for a little than to pray large without focus. Don"t be ashamed to pray much for a few things, prayer is not the place or time to be all things to all people.
Fervent prayer demands fervent pray-ing. Elijah continued in prayer even when the results he looked for were not evident. The weakness of our flesh is one of the biggest hindrances we have to true prayer. (see Mt.26:38-46) Though we are truly weak we must not let our flesh use that as an excuse to keep us from prayer. (see Phil.4:13) Time must be set aside to pray and we must be just as determined to pray as we are to eat, sleep, or pursue our livelihood. Discipline and effort is not the antithesis of grace. (see I Cor.9:27; Rom. 6:16).
Fervent prayer requires us to discern the will of GOD. Elijah was given a prophecy and he prayed that that prophecy would come to pass. Prayer which is according to the will of GOD must be answered. "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." (1 John 5:14). We do not always know what the will of GOD is. We must pray fervently to discover it. When we have that discernment, then we can pray with power. We often add the little refrain, "if it is your will" to our prayers because we are too lazy to seek it out, so we add it in just to cover all the bases, saving us effort, and giving us an easy excuse when our prayer was not heard. When we act in this fashion we are almost certain not to have the things that we ask. GOD may not always be pleased to reveal HIS will to us but I believe HE always desires that we seek to know it and see it accomplished in the earth. (see Mat. 6:10; Jer.33:3)
Fervent prayer ultimately requires us to wait on the LORD. The answer to Elijah’s prayer came according to the LORD’s timetable, not one minute sooner, not one minute later. Faith and fervent prayer go hand in hand. Where you find one you will find the other. Brethren, "Pray without ceasing!" (I Thes. 5:17)