3 requirements for effectual fervent prayer: ask, seek, and knock

The 3 requirements for fervent effectual prayer are ask, seek, and knock. The Christian life is an active life, it motivates, and it works. You need to ask the will of God. You need to actively seek the answer. Then, you have to put the answer into action. All 3 of these are required. Don’t expect a godly answer and good results without all three.

  • If you never ask the will of God, but seek everywhere for an answer, who knows what you will find, and it won’t end well to act on it.
  • If you ask the will of God, but never seek the answer, you just wonder around aimlessly knocking on every door, don’t expect to find a godly answer.
  • If you ask the will of God and actively seek the answer, but never act on the result, you should not have bothered because it won’t do you any good.

KJV: The effectual fervent1754 prayer of a righteous man availeth2480 much4183.
NIV: The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
NLT: The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
GWT: Prayers offered by those who have God’s approval are effective. (James 5:16b)

1754 energéō
(from 1722 /en, “engaged in,” which intensifies 2041 /érgon, “work”) – properly, energize, working in a situation which brings it from one stage (point) to the next, like an electrical current energizing a wire, bringing it to a shining light bulb.
2480 isxýō
properly, embodied strength that “gets into the fray” (action), i.e. engaging the resistance. For the believer, 2480 (isxýō) refers to the Lord strengthening them with combative, confrontive force to achieve all He gives faith for. That is, facing necessary resistance that brings what the Lord defines is success (His victory, cf. 1 Jn 5:4). Accordingly, faith (4102 /pístis) and 2480 (isxýō) are directly connected (Js 5:16). See 2479 (isxys).
4183 polýs
many (high in number); multitudinous, plenteous, “much”; “great” in amount (extent).

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

7:7-11 Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need. Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask, as a traveller asks the way. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost; or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls. Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door. Sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer we knock. Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, shall be given you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more? This is made to apply to all that pray aright; every one that asketh receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, all are alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith. It is explained by a comparison taken from earthly parents, and their readiness to give their children what they ask. Parents are often foolishly fond, but God is all-wise; he knows what we need, what we desire, and what is fit for us. Let us never suppose our heavenly Father would bid us pray, and then refuse to hear, or give us what would be hurtful. Matthew Henry Commentary

1) Ask — keep asking for the will of God

The best way to ask the will of God is to walk in the will of God. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (James 4:17) When you sin and disobey God’s rules it hinders your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7) So the best way to ask the will of God, is to live the way God wants you to live.

I am not suggesting that good works will win favor from God because there is nothing you can do to make him love you more than he already does. He died for your sins when you were dead and unlovely. But, if you continue to live in sin, you will be bogged down by an evil conscience and the reaping of poor choices, which will keep you from asking the will of God. When you turn from your sins and press toward godliness (Philippians 3:13-14), that first step might be the biggest and most important step of your life, and put you in a better position to ask the will of God.

Open your Bible and start reading. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16) When your life is characterized by loving one another, serving others, and a devotion to the truth, you are better able to be in the will of God where you can ask the will of God.

154 aiteó
aorist ᾐτησάμην; (from Homer down); to ask; middle to ask for oneself, request for oneself; absolutely: James 1:6; Matthew 7:7; (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (John 14:12-14 NLT)

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. (John 15:16)

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God, and we will receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what is pleasing in His sight. (1 John 3:21-22)

I’ve written this to those who believe in the Son of God so that they will know that they have eternal life. We are confident that God listens to us if we ask for anything that has his approval. We know that he listens to our requests. So we know that we already have what we ask him for. (1 John 5:13-15)

 “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3)

When you call to me, I will answer you. I will be with you when you are in trouble. I will save you and honor you. (Psalm 91:15)

2) Seek — actively search for the answer

The Christian life is not a passive “couch potato” life for “Monday morning quarterbacks,” it is an active life. If your body is alive, it will have breath. If your faith is alive, it will have works. (James 2) This is supremely important because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). So get up off your butt and start living. As you exercise your Christian life, you will strengthen your godly spirit and be able to think with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), which will help you find the answer to prayer. The more mature your Christian life becomes (Hebrews 6:1), the better you will be able to search for the answer.

2212 zētéō
properly, to seek by inquiring; to investigate to reach a binding (terminal) resolution; to search, “getting to the bottom of a matter.” (HELPS Word-studies)

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? (Matthew 18:12)

To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:7)

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)

3) Knock — put the answer into action

When you are able to ask the will of God and actively search for the answer, God will reveal it to you, but that won’t do you any good unless you take a step of faith and put the answer into action. “God’s promise that we may enter his place of rest still stands. We are afraid that some of you think you won’t enter his place of rest. We have heard the same Good News that your ancestors heard. But the message didn’t help those who heard it in the past because they didn’t believe.” (Hebrews 4:1-2) “So God set another day. That day is today. Many years after [your ancestors failed to enter that place of rest] God spoke about it through David in the passage already quoted: “If you hear God speak today, don’t be stubborn.” (Hebrews 4:7)

2925 krouó
I knock, beat a door with a stick, to gain admittance. (Strong’s Concordance)

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Psalm 19:8)

He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray. (Proverbs 10:17)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” (John 10:1-5)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

I walked by the field of a lazy person,
the vineyard of one with no common sense.
I saw that it was overgrown with nettles.
It was covered with weeds,
and its walls were broken down.
Then, as I looked and thought about it,
I learned this lesson:
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. (Proverbs 24:30-34)

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things. (Revelation 2:19)

★) Examples

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops. (James 5:16-18)

5:16-18 And when a righteous person, a true believer, justified in Christ, and by his grace walking before God in holy obedience, presents an effectual fervent prayer, wrought in his heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, raising holy affections and believing expectations and so leading earnestly to plead the promises of God at his mercy-seat, it avails much. The power of prayer is proved from the history of Elijah. In prayer we must not look to the merit of man, but to the grace of God. It is not enough to say a prayer, but we must pray in prayer. Thoughts must be fixed, desires must be firm and ardent, and graces exercised. This instance of the power of prayer, encourages every Christian to be earnest in prayer. God never says to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek my face in vain. Where there may not be so much of miracle in God’s answering our prayers, yet there may be as much of grace. –Matthew Henry Commentary

Cornelius replied, “Four days ago I was praying in my house about this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man in dazzling clothes was standing in front of me. He told me, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God! Now send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.’ So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.” (Acts 10:30-33)

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