Ive been thinking about prayer today and wondering what james meant when he wrote, 'the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.' (James 5:16) I imagine the collective quantity of prayer going up to God at the moment is extraordinarily high and that is surely a good thing. But is God hearing my prayer and am I righteous enough for my prayers to make an effective difference?
Daniel prays a prayer that reveals something of his humilty before God despite being noted as, 'a man of high esteem' by a messanger from God Himself. (Dan 10:19) He prays, 'O my God, incline your ear and hear! Open your eyes and see our desolations.' He follows this with, 'for we are not presenting our supplications before you on account of any merits of our own, but on account of your great compassion'. (Dan 9:18)
Daniel had a special friendship with, and understanding of, God that was developed and honed over many years in exile in Babylon. And he certainly knew how to pray! But there is a sense in Daniel's prayer above that he is truly and deeply humble before the Lord; there is no arogance, no presuposition of bias, no expectation of divine favouritism . Only humilty and honesty from this man of faith.
I do think we should pray, especially at times like these. Indeed, God expects us to. But C.S Lewis says something very important when he writes,'as long as a man is thinking of God as the opposite party in a sort of bargain, or thinking of claims or counter-claims between himself and God, he is not yet in right relation to Him. He cannot get into the right relation until he has discovered the fact of our bankrupcy'. (C.S Lewis, Christian Behaviour,1943). In the light of this I suggest we throw ourselves on the mercy of our loving father and trust in his righteousness alone.