Today I’d like to explore the subject of “effectual fervent prayer”.  It is written in James 5:16-20:
 Jas 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.
Jas 5:17  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
Jas 5:18  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Jas 5:19  Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Jas 5:20  Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

    James gave us a wealth of information in those few verses.  So many people try to hide their faults behind a smile, or a church membership, but we all have faults; just ask my wife.  Wait, no, DON’T ask my wife!  Just today I was on the phone with a fellow pastor, and we were confessing our faults to one another.  Why?  So we may be healed!  I don’t want to keep my fleshly faults, I’d rather confess them, expose them to the light, and be rid of them.  There is healing in accountability, and God gives us brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus to help us toe the line.  Now, don’t just go confessing your faults to a gossip, God doesn’t want you to do that.  Confess them to someone TRUSTWORTHY, and when you hear someone’s faults, you don’t go around repeating them.  Would you like to know what his fault is?  FORGET IT,  I’LL NEVER TELL!!!  You keep them to yourself to your grave.  God WILL deal with gossips, but you don’t ever want to find out how.
    Moving on:  “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”.  Now the devil won’t argue with that statement, however he will say, Yes, that’s true, but YOU aren’t righteous!  You see, that’s how the devil keeps people from praying and seeing results.  If he can convince you that you aren’t righteous, then you will see no sense in praying, and because you don’t pray, many will suffer that would have been relieved, had only you prayed.  Now, are you righteous because of any merit on your own part?  No, you’re righteous because Christ Jesus has MADE you righteous by His own sacrifice.  You are MADE righteous, but you BECOME holy.  Let me explain. 
Your sins are forgiven because you asked the Lord Jesus to forgive them.  He has the right to forgive them because He died on the cross in your place to pay for your sins.  We are not forgiven because we deserve to be, we are forgiven because HE chose to forgive us.  Forgiveness isn’t something we earn, it’s something that is given to us as a gift, as in FREE gift. 
   We’ll say you have a lust problem, it could be for money, it could be for sex, it could be for food, it could be for fame, but lust is sin, period.  It is written in James 1:12-15:
Jas 1:12  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Jas 1:13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
Jas 1:14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Jas 1:15  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
   The definition of sin is anything that transgresses the law of God.  For example we may have a lustful thought.  Where do you think those thoughts come from?  A clue: not God.  They come from the evil one.  He wants you to think on wrong things, and if you think upon them long enough, sooner or later you will start talking about them, and then doing them.  Once a man asked me how he could get free from internet porn.  I told him the answer is right before his eyes.  See the “OFF” button on the computer?  Push it!  Turn the computer off and walk away.  So simple.  God will always give us a way to escape temptation, but we can’t blame God if we don’t use it.  Here’s God’s promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13:  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
   If you will notice, there is an “ESCAPE” button on your computer, in the upper left hand corner of the keyboard.  Next time you find yourself looking at something on the internet you know you shouldn’t be looking at, the Lord has given you a way to escape, just like He promised.  Use it!  If that button doesn’t do anything on your computer, just turn it off and walk away.
   There is no reason whatsoever for the devil to be able to tell you that if you’re a child of God that you aren’t righteous.  You have no excuse to be living in habitual sin whatsoever.  Sin was dealt with on the cross, and though we sometimes sin by neglect or ignorance, I have to seriously question the salvation of anyone claiming they love God, but who won’t deal with their fleshly lusts.  We are to repent of our sins, walk away from them and forsake them.  And if we slip up, we have this grace for forgiveness.  Grace, a safety net, mind you, not a trampoline as some use it.  As we practice living according to the Bible, holiness becomes a way of life, not an occasional “blip” on the screen.  We’re not perfect, but we’re disciples of the Perfect One.
1Jn 1:4  And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
1Jn 1:5  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
1Jn 1:6  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1Jn 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1Jn 1:8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Jn 1:10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1Jn 2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1Jn 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
1Jn 2:3  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1Jn 2:4  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
    Getting back to the “effectual fervent prayer”, with sin dealt with, our prayers need not be hindered, but will accomplish much for the Kingdom of God.  Even Elias (Elijah) dealt with his own fleshly temptations, yet he prayed earnestly and it didn’t rain for three and a half years at his request.  Don’t think you’re the only one who has ever been tempted.  We all are tempted, and so was the Lord Jesus.  He didn’t give in to sin, and you don’t have to either.  You have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus, and you stay that way by turning your back on temptation.  Even the Apostle Paul had to keep his fleshly desires in line, and he said he did so lest after having preached to others, he himself should be a castaway.  The sacrifice of Jesus was very precious to him.  And it should be to us, too. 
    The devil will offer you his best to get you to turn from your righteousness.  Don’t think the devil will send some ugly woman to tempt a man into adultery.  No sir, he will send some raving beauty into his path to tell him how she has been looking so long for a man like him, how she would treat him SO GOOD, and woo him away from his wife.  And then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin, and sin when it is finished, it brings forth death, period.
    Want to know why so many prayers don’t get past the ceiling?  People don’t believe in their righteousness.  There are many who are doing all they can to live a holy life before God, who have been listening to the taunts of the devil, and so believe they are not righteous.  Face it, the devil is a liar, always has been, and always will be.  If you have confessed your sins to God, and I assume you have, then you are forgiven, and you are righteous.  Therefore, your effectual fervent prayers avail much in God’s eyes. 
    James was writing, not to sinners, but BRETHREN in Christ Jesus.  When you convert a sinner from the error of his ways, you shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.  God has called you (the righteous) to minister the Gospel to the sinners of this world, wherever you find them.  Pray for them like you mean it, and just watch what God does for them, (and you)!