Heartfelt Prayer to God

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Be encouraged to pour your heart out to God in heartfelt prayer.

Sometimes we get caught up in the logistics of prayer.

We may read books on the subject, formulate strategies, utilize journals, and/or create calendars and it’s possible to get hung up on the particulars. This post examines God’s invitation and desire for us to pour out our hearts to Him.

The truth is, this outpouring doesn’t always follow a neatly curated formula, occur in the confines of a specified time frame, or align with our predetermined objectives. 

Please don’t misunderstand… I’m in no way implying any of these things to be negative, or that there is not immense potential benefit from each one of them! I’ve read many books that have enriched my prayer life that I recommend frequently to others. I’ve also engaged in disciplines that have been very beneficial to me.

I’ve also created my own strategies that have fostered depth and intimacy during my devotional times, and I love to journal

Every one of the above has had a powerful effect on my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and I’d love to share these things with you! 

That’s a different topic for another day, however. Today we focus on the condition of our hearts as we come before the Lord. 

During Jesus’ ministry on Earth, He had harsh words for the religious elite who approached Him with prideful hearts. (See Mt. 23) Jesus made it very clear that He is not impressed by outward appearance, fancy words, or vain repetitions! 

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16  written in front of flowers

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16, NKJV).

We’re going to dissect this verse word for word to understand exactly what it means.

My attention perked up as I read the word, effective.

I don’t know about you, but I want my prayers to be effective! 

The foundational criterion for effectiveness is to come in the name of Jesus. According to Hebrews 4:16, He is our great high priest and because of who we are in Him, we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence!” This is why we end our prayers, “In Jesus name”. It’s solely by His merit we can approach our holy God. It’s not the kind of prayer you offer or good work you’ve done that results in effectiveness, We are able to come because of who we are in Christ Jesus.

As we proceed in James 5:16, we’re met with a second adjective that captured my attention. 

The effective, fervent prayer.

According to dictionary.com, fervent means, having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, enthusiasm; ardent.

This definition adds depth to our understanding as intense feelings and passion are emphasized.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man.

The type of prayer offered has been described, and now this verse describes the person praying.      

If reading the description “righteous” resulted in even a hint of inadequacy, prepare to be encouraged!      

According to Strong’s concordance, the literal meaning of righteous in this verse is, “by implication, innocent, holy.”    

If I can anticipate what you may be thinking: “Wait a minute, Jen, I thought you said I’d be encouraged?! I’m far from innocent and holy! Maybe I’m not included in this description?”    

If you’ve surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus and are born again, you are most certainly innocent and holy! Not because of anything you’ve done right, but because you’re rightly related to Christ!

Therein lies the beauty of our identity in Christ. Every Holy Spirit-indwelled follower of Jesus has been declared righteous. Some people misinterpret this verse to mean a righteous man must be a pastor, a church leader, a deacon – or someone who “appears” to do lots of good things and appears to be strong in his or her walk with Christ. Wrong! Our righteousness is not reliant on our performance, and we could never attain this on our own.    

Every time we bow before our Father God, we’re seen as righteous and loved with more passion and zeal than we can fathom.    

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.    

We don’t commonly use the word avails in our language today, so let’s look again at Strong’s concordance to see exactly what our prayers do, according to James 5:16.    

If you were encouraged by the literal meaning of righteous, hold onto your hat as you read this definition!      

Avails literally means, to have (or exercise) force (literally or figuratively).    

There’s much power in prayer. In fact, I don’t know if we could ever wrap our minds around the tremendous force behind it. Don’t let the enemy tempt you to believe the lies that God doesn’t hear, see, or care about you.      

Picture of a woman praying and pouring out her heart to God

Examples of prayers from Scripture    

Different types of prayer include (but certainly are not limited to):

There are several accounts in the Bible of people intentionally pulling away in order to be alone and spend time with the Lord. An example that immediately comes to mind is when Jesus went off alone to pray. There’s more than one account of Him doing this, and each time I read one of them I reflect on the powerful example of Jesus making this a priority. I’m reminded of my own desperate need to pull away and be alone with Him for the same reason in my life. (See Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12, Matthew 26:36)    

Occasions of spontaneous prayer are also recorded in Scripture. One example is when God’s people broke out in praise and danced before Him in Exodus 15:20. Miriam took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went with her, dancing as they celebrated the Lord’s deliverance.      

I’m also reminded of Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1:13-15 when she was praying in her heart. Though her lips were moving, her voice wasn’t heard. Eli actually thought she was drunk as he watched her! Her voice may not have been heard by any person, but make no mistake – the Lord heard the loud cries that never escaped the confines of her human heart.      

Psalm 51 contains an example of confession and repentance as King David laments his sin and makes a plea for forgiveness.      

We see intercessory prayer when Abraham interceded for the people’s lives in Sodom in Genesis 18.    

An outpouring of gratitude is displayed throughout the Book of Psalms.    

My heart is moved every time I read when Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to remove the thorn from his flesh.      

One common factor from each example above is that their prayers were fervent. The individuals came boldly with unguarded emotion! These proclamations of God’s children were not made half-heartedly or in the midst of distraction. They also didn’t care what other people thought of them.      

From a loud cry of worship to a whispered prayer muttered, we see a beautiful blend of raw emotion, vulnerability, and humility in each example.    

Prayer is meant for an audience of One.      

Many women have shared with me their anxious thoughts and feelings of insecurity regarding praying in front of other people. My advice to them is always the same – remember your prayer is for an audience of One. Focus on Him alone and not having the right words, and allow your prayer to flow from your heart.

If anyone has any negative, critical, or judgemental thoughts towards you in response, that’s on them, and not your burden to take on. For your own sake, try and omit their opinions from your perspective and focus.    

Pray at all times.    

Pray at all times. Clock tower at sunset

Consider the following Bible verses regarding when and how we pray      

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NIV) The New King James Version of this verse reads, “Pray without ceasing”.        

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).      

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).      

God desires us to keep Him at the forefront of our minds throughout the day and communicate with Him as we go about our day!      

I’m trying to put this into practice more in my life. I recognize times when I’ve compartmentalized the time I spend with the Lord and neglected to communicate with Him throughout my day. I don’t want to pray in the morning and then not think about or communicate with Him for the remainder of my day. A long or short prayer is not the issue – it’s maintaining dialogue with Him!  

It’s possible to go through our day in a posture of prayer and worship.        

We need to be cautious with our frame of mind so we don’t turn it into a performance-driven mentality! Achieving the goal of talking with Jesus throughout the day is not a matter of determining: “I need to pray more!” And God forbid we become critical of ourselves and think in a self-condemning manner that we don’t pray enough! Our primary motive to pray without ceasing should be out of our love for Jesus which results in us wanting to talk with Him all day long, not because we have to, but because we get to.      

Maintaining ongoing dialog with Him increases our intimacy in our relationship and helps anchor our lives to our Source.

This includes when our circumstances are going well, and also during difficult times. Whether the sun is shining, or when a storm of life is overwhelming us to the point it becomes hard to breathe.      

He is our very present help in times of trouble. The place of prayer is irrelevant; you can call out to Him regardless of your location or situation! His eye is always on you, and there is never one moment you’re not on His mind. This is true for everyone in this whole world; He is omniscient!      

I’ve also experienced the reality that sometimes when life is seemingly smooth sailing, I tend to think about and pray less throughout my day, but when hardship and suffering come I’m more mindful to pray more frequently during the day.      

I further develop this idea in the YouTube video below in a compelling analogy, and I encourage you to watch.      

Prayer is a two-way line of communication.      

Sometimes when we talk to Jesus we get so focused on what we want to say, how we’d like to say it, what we need, and what we desire, that we forget to stop and listen!      

Ever know someone who only calls when she needs something, then rattles on and on and on and on and we can’t even get a word in edgewise? Then an abrupt, “Well, I gotta go!” is followed by, a click.      

I have to wonder if God ever feels this way.    

The God of the universe desires to speak to us. Let’s commit to having a posture before Him that’s similar to Samuel when he said, “Speak, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10, NIV).      Oh that you and I would be intentional to quiet ourselves before our Lord Jesus with our Bible open in eager anticipation to hear from Him.    

When our oldest son was a newborn, I remember rocking him to sleep one night and reflecting on my intense love for him. My mind started to wander and I began to think about him growing up. I remember thinking to myself, I hope when Matthew gets older he doesn’t come home or call me only when he needs something from me… I hope he will want to be around me often and that we always have a very close relationship.    

In that pitch-black room as I rocked my precious baby, the Holy Spirit intercepted my thought process. I felt conviction cover me like a blanket as I felt Him impress on me at that moment, “That’s exactly how you’ve been in your relationship with me.”    

My heart sank, as I knew that to be true. My approach when I prayed was as though the Lord was my bellboy in heaven, and I made contact with Him only when I needed or wanted something, and when it was convenient for me. My self-centered approach was obvious. As a brand new mom, my heavenly Father seized my attention, and I went to bed heavy-hearted. The next morning was not only the beginning of a new day but also a turning point in my approach to and relationship with the Lord.

God already knows everything we need, without us telling Him. He also knows our heart desires and our deep longings on behalf of our loved ones. More than those things, He’s aware of our every motive, intention, and emotion – to the depth of our hearts.

Pour out your whole heart to Almighty God.

pin with woman praying

Humbly, confidently, and fervently offer your powerful prayers in expectation of powerful results!

FREE Prayer Journal Template

Related posts on heartfelt prayer to God:

Bible Lesson on Prayer for Adults

35 Psalms of Prayer and Praise Written by King David

Praise and Prayer

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