“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
A righteous man is one who has a right standing before God, one who has found his righteousness in Jesus Christ. It is this person, a saved person, who has assurance that when he prays, God hears and loves to answer. “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry” (Psalm 34:15).
James reminds us that the fervent praying of the righteous produces solid results. So then, for what should we pray?
Pray that we will be a blessing, especially in our speech. “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. . . . Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing” (James 3:8,10). “Let your speech be alway with grace” (Colossians 4:6).
Pray that we will be sweet and not sour. “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? . . . salt water and fresh?” (James 3:11,12). “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).
Pray that we will be a good influence and not an evil one. The Christian who desires to be a good influence will be peaceable and gentle. He will be approachable. He will be full of mercy and good fruits. He will not be partial or hypocritical (James 3:17).
On the other hand, the person who exerts a bad influence will have a heart filled with bitter envying and strife, causing confusion and every evil work. This is not of God but is earthly, sensual, and devilish (James 3:14–16).
Our greatest need is to be like Christ and not the devil. James’ good advice in 4:7,8 is: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” NPS