By Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe
To keep up a constant, sincere, and (may I say) a successful prayer life, one must first develop a dependent spirit about himself. He must realize that without God nothing is possible, and we humans are a dependent sort; we need God's presence and power to go through even one small bit of time in our lives, because he is the source of all our blessings. He sustains us on a constant basis through his loving kindness and mercy.
The Bible teaches us that we should have fervent prayer. James says in 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. In fervent prayer much can be accomplished. The Greek word for "availeth" is ISCHUO and has the basic meaning of strength or power or energy. In other words, effectual, fervent prayer gives power for us to accomplish God's purpose in our lives.
Missionaries need this power of purpose; pastors need this power of purpose; deacons need this power of purpose; actually, everyone who is a believer needs this power of purpose. If a believer is fervent in prayer; that is, he is powerful in prayer, working with energy to keep up his praying practice, much will be accomplished. The Greek word for "fervent" is ENERGEO and is implicit and explicit of power or work. We must work at praying; it does not come automatically by any means.
But we must beware of our praying. Stephen Charnock said, "Prayer is often most fervent when it is least godly." This can be very true, especially if we pray out of mere repetition and physical practice or when we pray to consume things upon our own lusts -- James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Charnock calls this practical atheism, and it is so that we believers in Christ can sometimes act in an atheistic way when we pray out of mere practice rather than being sincere and heart-rent in prayer.
Paul was not being casual or pithy when he said, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Keep up the practice, the work of prayer. Do not relax or turn away from this practice. We must be fervent in our praying, but not only fervent but also sincere, having our hearts sprinkled -- Heb. 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.