James 5:16 in the King James reads, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." God is more likely to answer your prayer if you ask "fervently."  When you are having a casual conversation with your wife or husband, you might allow the television to distract you or a phone call to interrupt you.  But if you are asking for something that to you is very important, you probably turn off the television and refuse to answer the phone so there are no distractions. It must be difficult for God to think your request is serious when your mind wanders, or you refuse to set aside a special time to talk to him about it apart from ringing phones and other demands, or when you fall asleep!  

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened" (Luke 11:9-10).  The words for ask, seek and knock are in the present tense, which in the Greek language denote continual action:  Keep on asking, seeking and knocking.  So don't quit praying just because your prayer isn't answered on the first request. 

I'm convinced that we don't pray big enough.  Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him" (Mark 11:23).  One of the reasons our church has been blessed so much by God is that our elders have been bold.  They have a slogan, "We are going to try something so big that if God isn't in it, it will fail."  We've tried a lot of big things, and some of them have failed!  But more often than not, God has blessed those audacious requests, and we've seen some mighty big answers to prayer.  

From "When God Answers Prayer" by Bob Russell, with Rusty Russell. Available Aug. 5, 2003,Howard Publishing.

About the Author: At just 22 years of age, Bob Russell became the Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Thirty-five years later, that small congregation of 120 members has become one of the largest churches in America, with 17,000 people attending the three worship services every weekend. An accomplished author, Bob has written over a dozen books. He also has a weekly column in The Lookout , a magazine printed by Standard Publishing. A highly respected speaker, Bob is heard weekly on The Living Word, a nationally syndicated radio program.