“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” KJV
Is all prayer “effectual”?
much-is able to do-the prayer-of the righteous-actuated, fully operating
Wycl: For the contynuel preyer of a iust man is myche worth.
Tynd: The prayer of a ryghteous man avayleth moche yf it be fervet.
Gen: for the prayer of a righteous man auaileth much, if it be feruent.
KJV: The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
ASV: The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.
ESV: The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
DRP: The fully operating prayer of a righteous person is able to accomplish much.
We can see that the effectiveness of the prayer of the righteous person is conditional on something. It only works if it is “actuated, fully working.”
Tyndale introduced the idea of fervency, “if it be fervent.” I don’t know where he got that from, since that is not in the Greek. The ASV and ESV say “as it is working,” etc. This implies, correctly, that there is a possibility that one’s prayer does not work. What makes prayer effectual, or “working”?
There are quite a few scriptures which tell us some things that cause our prayer not to work.
The Psalmist of Psalm 66 was a righteous man, but he knew that his prayers did not always work. In Psalm 66:18 he says “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
If the person praying is “doubting at all,” the prayer is not effective, James 1:6
If the one praying has unconfessed sin, he is not in fellowship with God, and is in darkness, as it says in many scripture passages such as Psalm 66:18; and in the First Epistle of John.
A married man’s prayers may be hindered if he is not treating his wife like it is layed out in 1 Peter 3:7.
Matthew 5:23,24 says “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and first go be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” This does not mention prayer specifically, but I think it applies, as God is not interested in what you are bringing to him if you are not resolving what you brother has against you.
This is not a complete list, but are some examples of what might cause prayer to not be “fully operating.”
You can download the DRP translation of James here, with footnotes.