The concept and terminology come from James 5:15 where it speaks of the “prayer of faith” saving the sick and allowing God to raise the person up. Here are some significant points:
1. There is such a prayer.
2. It enables definite miraculous results that would not happen without such faith (Words such as “the Lord will raise him up” and “effective prayer” are used).
3. It anticipates a particular spiritual outcome on the person being prayed for (“confess your sins…that you may be healed”).
4. It is apparently offered in the context of a godly life (“effective prayer of a righteous man avails much”).
5. Elijah’ “earnest praying” is cited as an example of such a praying person.
The most helpful and encouraging thoughts on the subject came from Charles Finney and Wesley Duewel.
Finney points out that faith is indispensable to obtaining answers (Mark 11:24), and asserts that we MUST believe the following if we are to obtain answers: (1) believe in the existence of God; and (2) that we will obtain an answer.
Then he marks out when we can pray for with absolute confidence: (1) when God has specifically promised the thing (such as salvation of children); (2) when a general promise indicates God will act (such as growing wickedness); (3) when there is a prophetic declaration (of which there are many regarding our time in history); (4) when providence so indicates (where one notices people becoming open to the gospel for example); and (5) when the Spirit excites a strong desire to pray (there are many such examples of such prayer in history). Finney accordingly says, look to Scripture and see if anything is promised, and pray accordingly with great confidence. I know God won’t violate a person’s will, but we can ask God to bring compelling conviction upon the person we are praying for, for example.
Duewel points to the following by way of summary: (1) It is prayer totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit; (2) It is a prayer totally committed to seeing God’s answer realized; (3) It is a prayer willing to believe and prevail for God’s answer in a situation that is utterly impossible; (4) It is prayer that believes regardless of feelings or emotions; (5) It is prayer convinced that it is in accord with God’s highest will; (6) It is prayer so sure of God’s will that it will not accept denial of the answer; (7) It is eager to obey God in any way He leads so as to help hasten the answer; (8) It may include prayer warfare in resisting and routing Satan; (9) It is willing to pray through every detail of the answer or victory.
“A definite request… made in definite faith, for a definite answer.”—Mountain Rain
“A heart full of God has power for the prayer of faith. Faith in God begets faith in the promise, in the promise too of an answer to prayer. Therefore, child of God, take time, take time, to bow before Him, to wait on Him to reveal Himself. Take time, and let thy soul in holy awe and worship exercise and express its faith in the Inﬁnite One, and as He imparts Himself and takes possession of thee, the prayer of faith will crown thy faith in God.”—With Christ in the School of Prayer
"In answer to the question, But why, if the answer to prayer is so positively promised, why are there such numberless unanswered prayers? we found that Christ taught us that the answer depended upon certain conditions. He spoke of faith, of perseverance, of praying in His Name, of praying in the will of God. But all these conditions were summed up in the one central one: "If ye abide in Me, ask whatsoever ye will and it shall be done unto you." It became clear that the power to pray the effectual prayer of faith depended upon the life. It is only to man given up to live as entirely in Christ and for Christ as the branch in the vine and for the vine that these promises can come true. "In that day" Christ said, " ye shall ask in My Name." It is only in a life full of the Holy Spirit that the true power to ask in Christ's Name can be known. This led to the emphasizing the truth that the ordinary Christian life cannot appropriate these promises. It needs a spiritual life altogether sound and vigorous to pray in power'. The teaching naturally led to press the need of a life of entire consecration."—The Ministry of Intercession
"There is no prayer acceptable to God, but the prayer of faith; and that this simply means, that all prayer must be offered in full confidence that God will be true to his word. What, then, is the Scriptural doctrine of the prayer of faith? Simply this, that when we pray, we must fully believe that God will be true to all that he has promised. This implies that we are ready to learn what his promises are, and to make them the basis of a sure expectation.—Prayer and its Remarkable Answers
"The prayer of faith" is the great secret of getting what we need in our personal life; what we need in our service; what we need in our work.”