James 5:16 prayer


This verse seems to go in a circle, saying in effect, an effective prayer is effective. But what makes a prayer effective? Some translations (the quote below is the Douay-Rheims) say "the effectual fervent prayer." So is it how passionate we feel when we pray? Or how "just" or "righteous" we are when we pray?

I want God to be pleased with my prayers, and I want them to be effective. I'm wondering if some kinds of prayer are better than others. Of course there are all kinds of prayers, but this verse seems to indicate some are "better" than others.

14 Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man: and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved.** For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much.** 17 Elias was a man passible like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again: and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.


My New American reads, "Therefore, confess your sins one to another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful."

A justified or righteous person would be one who is Baptized, has faith & works from the Lord, Is a doer of the word, (keeps the commandments) receives Jesus' sacrafice in the Eucharist, and attends confession. Forgiveness has freed him from the slavery of sin. His soul is predisposed to hold all the graces of God's Sacraments. Jesus, & the Holy Spirit abides in Him, so His prayers are powerful for the community.

I believe it is both how passionate we pray, and how righteous we are. When we are obedient, we are plugged in to God, and He can move through us unimpeded.


In apologetics for asking saints for intercession, this verse corresponds to the righteousness of the person. I dont believe it would be entirely prudent, however, to presume an "unanswered" prayer be the result of unrighteousness or not enough passion in its delivery. Jesus sweat blood when he prayed that the cup of his sacrifice be spared him. And Jesus was fully righteous and passionate in his prayer.

The "mechanics" of prayer are mysterious because we cannot always see the value of our intentions take effect. We can only follow Christ's example and submit to Gos's will, believing on faith the positive effect God made with our prayers. Jesus wound up redeeming the world. What will your prayers become?


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