What Is Effectual Prayer in Jam 5.16

“Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effectual prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

Everyone wants to have effective prayer, but can we know how to do it? We believe we can and will present some insight into how we can have effectual prayer. This verse begins with saying that we should confess our sins to one another, but it does not mean we are to tell others what our sins are. It means if we have sinned against someone or offended them we should seek to reconcile with them and ask for forgiveness. Notice this verse also says the “effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” What is a “righteous man?” It is one who has a Torah-based faith in Yeshua and has the righteousness of God. What righteousness is can defined in the Torah.

The followers of Yeshua asked him to teach them how to pray. Why? Because they saw he had effectual results, so he goes into what has been called the “Lord’s Prayer.” This is not an “original” prayer because it can be found in many of the typical Jewish prayers of the time. It was a model prayer and that means we should pray as the Scriptures teach us. This prayer sums up the major themes of what true prayer is. This also shows us, contrary to what many teach today, that Jews were not “hypocrites” because they did not know what to say. Their prayers were fine, and Yeshua used them in his “model prayer.” The problem was not with words, or the form, or the content, or the petitions necessarily. All of that was how it should have been. The problem was that some did not pray with sincerity and truth. There was no repentance or faith. The best prayer is useless if it doesn’t express the true intentions of the heart, intentions, and desires. The Lord looks at the heart and judges any prayer by the faith with which it was offered. Any Jewish person who heard Yeshua pray this model prayer would have agreed with its contents and would have found it to be acceptable.

However, there is a warning to praying the same words over and over again, thinking much repetition will gain favor. This was the mentality of some people in a book called the “Didache” which is a second-generation Christian writing and “catechism” dealing with Christian ethics. This book says that the Lord’s Prayer should be said three times a day like Jewish prayers. This carries the tendency to turn prayer into a performance instead of the language of faith, love, and thankfulness. Prayer is a real dependence on Yehovah. That is the true essence of prayer, but the form and content, no matter how orthodox, is worthless if the heart is not humble before the Lord and if the prayer is not the true utterance and expression of the person’s heart. Yeshua’s prayers were effective and that is why his followers asked to “teach us to pray.”

Look at how the Mishkan, or Tabernacle, was constructed. It starts with the Ark of the Covenant and works its way outward in Exo 40. This is how God sees us. It is as if he is in the Holy of Holies looking “out” if you will. The Mishkan was a House of Prayer and how it was constructed gives us a clue to effective prayer. But, when you approach the Mishkan from the outside going in, the Lord gives us a lesson on how to approach him.

The Mishkan in Hebrew means “a dwelling presence” and it is where the Shekinah, Kivod, and the Ruach Ha Kodesh manifested. You can see the root for “Shekinah” (or “shki’nah”) in the word “Mishkan.” It was called the House of Kedusha and Prayer, just like all the succeeding Temples were. In Exo 25.8 God showed the “tavnit” or blueprint of the Mishkan and that was where he would dwell among his people. The presence of God moved from Sinai to the Mishkan and it moved with the people when they entered Canaan because they could not go all the to Sinai anymore. Moses is given the pattern for everything connected with the Mishkan and its construction. Then in Exo 40 he tells Moses to set up the Mishkan and tells him how to do it. In a way, that is how the Lord sees us. If he is in the Holy of Holies looking out, that is how the Mishkan was set up, from the inside out. That is how he sets up his “mishkan” in us, from the inside first, then working outward. But, when we approach the Lord in prayer it is just the opposite. Coming into his presence (“shki’nah”), the first thing you encounter is the veil at the door and an anointed priest, a picture of Yeshua. Then we come to the altar, a type of the cross. Then we have the Kior (laver) which held water, a type of the word of God (Eph 5.26), where we wash our hands and our feet daily after walking in a corrupt world. Moving past the Kior we enter the Mishkan. On the north side, which alludes to the intellect, we have the Shulchan Ha Lechem Ha Pannim, or the bread of the faces, which speaks of provision not only spiritually but physically. On the south side, which alludes to faith, we have the Menorah, which speaks of bearing the light of understanding. In the middle before the veil, we have the Mizbeach Shell Zahav, or the golden altar of incense, speaking of prayer. Then we have the veil, and behind the veil, we have the Aron Kodesh or the Holy Ark of the Covenant where God’s commandments await you. All of these speak of the Messiah. This is how we come to the Lord, not only in salvation but daily

Most people have no problem coming into the Mishkan, and encountering the priest and the altar. They have no problem with the Kior which symbolizes the word of God and a daily washing. They have no problem moving on with the idea of God’s provision of “bread” or the “light” that gives us understanding, or even prayer symbolized by the golden altar of incense, but many stop right there. They have a problem with that “servant” business symbolized by the commandments in the Ark. They will say, “All I need is Jesus (the priest)” or “All I need is back out there on the altar (the cross).” They will say, “I want mercy (the mercy seat on the Ark)” but don’t want what is down there in that box, the commandments. But in the Brit Chadasha, or renewed covenant, it says that the Torah will be written on the heart, desires, intentions, and thoughts of one who is truly born from above as God builds his body into his “mishkan.” For effectual prayer, we must keep the commandments. We should ask ourselves, “Am I following the pattern or blueprint God gave me to approach him in prayer?” Do we follow the pattern given to Moses?

Many people say that following the pattern God gave to Moses (Torah) is “legalism” but Moses had effectual prayers. Elijah followed Moses and he had effectual prayer. Yeshua followed Moses and he had effectual prayer. The Shaliachim (apostles) followed Moses and they had effectual prayer. Paul followed Moses (Acts 21.15-26, 24.14) and he had effectual prayer. What some call “legalism” God calls “obedience.” So, for effectual prayer ask yourself, “How is my mishkan set up?” When things don’t go right and our prayers seem unanswered, we need to ask ourselves, “Are things set up according to the pattern?” “Is everything in order and set up in the right place, with nothing missing?” We should ask ourselves, “Have I come to the door and encountered the priest Yeshua?” “Have I come to the altar of the cross with the right sacrifice?” “Have I got bread on the table?” “Have I got the proper light of understanding shining on my Menorah?” “Am I praying correctly and have the proper incense at the altar of incense?” “Have I got the commandments in my heart (Ark)?” For effectual prayer, start looking at these things and see if we are approaching the Lord according to the pattern he has set up. If everything is in order, then wait on the Lord. He has promised to speak to us “between the wings of the cherubim” on the Ark (Exo 25.22).

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