James 5:16b – “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” NASU
James 5:16b – “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” KJV
James 5:16b – “The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].” AMP
I have, more than once, discussed this question with people of varying doctrinal views within Christianity. There are those who argue, “Prayer does not change things, nor does prayer change God or His mind.” I have been told, “Whatever God has predetermined is going to happen whether we pray or not and no amount of prayer can or will change that.” When given those arguments and other similar ideas I always ask or wonder, “If prayer has no effect WHY did Jesus encourage His disciples to pray and encourage us to pray?” If prayer has no purpose or power, WHY PRAY? Would it not be a total waste of time? If prayer has no purpose or effect the many passages in the God’s Word seem contradictory and would allow questioning God on many fronts.
I believe, based on Scripture, that prayer does change things. I know it changes people and frequently people change things. However, if prayer has no effect shall we erase our text passage from the Bible? How about the examples in Scripture where people like, Hezekiah, Moses, Joshua, David, Hannah, Paul, and others received specific answers to their prayers? The patriarchs and prophets of old and the apostles and disciples of the New Testament believed in prayer, it’s power and purpose. There are literally hundreds of verses where people in the Bible prayed asking God to CHANGE THINGS and He did!
One of my go-to verses concerning our nation and lives is 2 Chronicles 7:14, “…My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” That seems a bit sadistic on God’s part if Prayer has no effect and changes nothing. How about Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Our Lord instructed in Matthew 6:5-6, ““Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” If Prayer has no effect and our LORD was guilty of giving false hope to His followers and that is not the God of the Bible.
I know from both the Word of God and personal experience that PRAYER is POWERFUL and CHANGES THINGS! If there is one thing that we need to do in our present world is become PEOPLE OF PRAYER. We need to make 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Matthew 6:33 a significant part of our lives.
God, bless you richly is my prayer and may you find that when you do not know how to pray rightly the Holy Spirit will pray through you according to Romans 8:26-27 – “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”