I was introduced to the term floobydust by Bob, a gray-haired analog engineer, as we prepared to power a circuit board for the first time. I’d followed his scribbled schematics in wiring the sockets and soldering the components. Now we faced the moment of truth to determine if the smoke would remain in the parts. If the smoke wafted from an electronic device said device became toast, engineering-speak for worthless. Considering that the combined cost of the parts on the circuit board was double my annual salary, my stress level soared to a new high.

Bob performed a few incantations with a volt meter and seemed satisfied that our test would not become a lab-evacuation event. I reached for the power switch only to have him push my hand away. “Not yet! We have to sprinkle the floobydust.”

He bowed his head and wiggled the digits of his gnarled hands above the circuit for a few seconds. He stared through his thick bifocals and nodded. “Ok, go!”

Whew! No smoke. No flames. And no projectiles from exploded parts. The floobydust must have worked, right?


If we are not careful and intentional in our walk with God our prayers can become floobydust. You know how it goes. The church has a big event planned, and all hands scurry to bring the preparations together. As the clock winds down to the start time some person suggests, “People, we really ought to pray about this!” And the crew ceases the pandemonium to gather for a “just in case” quickie prayer.

Or a person faces a time of crisis and after all resources and wisdom have been exhausted he finally opts to pray. “Nothing else has worked so I might as well pray.”

Like my mentor’s floobydust prayer can become more of a good luck charm than a spiritual pursuit. Is that the intention behind God’s invitation to pray? Is prayer like the fire axe waiting behind the glass in the hallway for emergency use only?

James, the half-brother of Jesus, became a leader in the first church and in his book described the kind of prayer we need to practice.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:16 NASB

My first question after reading that verse is, “What is effective prayer?” The word effective in the Greek looks much like our word energy and is used in many other verses. Consider this subset where the word is translated as work or works.

There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
1 Corinthians 12:6 NASB

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
1 Corinthians 12:11

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
Ephesians 3:21

for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure
Philippians 2:13

For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
Colossians 1:29

For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13

Could effective praying be my act of faith in connecting to the Power Source who is always at work? In asking Him to work in my situation and especially in my heart to make me more like Him? In desiring to think like He does and take actions that honor Him?


That seems to be a deep and focused practice compared to tossing up a few words when I remember to pray or when panic has permeated my bubble.

Effective prayer is all-in praying. It’s counting on my prayer reaching God with my willingness to submit to His will weaving my words together. It is prayer that believes there is nothing else but connecting to God that makes sense. It is building a relationship that grows stronger in good circumstances and bad.

The Bible has many examples of determined and sincere prayers. Effective prayers. Some are short. Others not so much. Get out your Bible and investigate for yourself. Then put away the floobydust.

  • Moses (Exodus 32:9-14)
  • Hannah (1 Samuel 1:9-11)
  • Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)
  • Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:1-11)
  • David (Psalm 51:1-19)
  • Solomon (1 Kings 3:6-9)
  • Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:14-19)
  • Jonah (Jonah 2:1-10)
  • Peter (Matthew 14:30)
  • The Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)
  • Jesus (John 17:1-26, Mark 14:35-36)

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