I'm reading Bible, and i saw a sentence:

Never forget: “A righteous man’s supplication, when it is at work, has much force.”—James 5:16.

What does "when it is at work, has much force" mean? I've searched on http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/be-at-work, and see that "be at work"means "to be having an effect, usually an obvious or bad effect", so "when it is at work" will mean "your prayer receive good result", right? And can you explain to me the expression "has much force"? Thank you!

  • Just want to make sure. You understand that you can read it as "A righteous man’s supplication has much force when it is at work", right? Jan 20, 2017 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


The cool thing about the Bible is there are so many different translations. You can use a site like this one to see several different versions of the same verse at once.

The New American Standard Bible, translates it as:

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

As you can see, "when it is at work" means "effective". Alternatively, you could say "when it is in effect".

Instead of "has much force" the translation says "can accomplish much". This is saying that prayer is powerful.


James 5:16

Never forget: "A righteous man's supplication, when it is at work, has much force."

When it is put to use (when it is working or operational), it has power to make things happen. In other words, it means that if a man is praying from the bottom of his heart, this action of praying is really going to have an impact on his life—God is going to hear his prayer and respond.

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