“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5.17-18
I’d like, once again, to call attention to the fact that prayer is one of God’s chosen methods of offering grace and help to His people. Prayer is the appointed means for calling down blessings from heaven! Therefore, it is no great leap of logic to say that God delights to answer prayer! Has He not said “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14.14)? Did He not tell us “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer” (1 Peter 3.12)? If we could only grab hold of the fact that our Father wants to give good gifts to His children, how mighty in prayer we might be! But as it is, we are so often weak! So let me use the account of Elijah’s prayer to encourage you (and myself) toward mighty prayer …
First of all, James reminds us that Elijah was a human being, just like you and me. There is no question, of course, that he was given a special gift and calling. He was a chosen instrument of God to rebuke kings, slay false prophets, and perform miracles. So He was no average Joe. However – and note this well – James seems to indicate that God’s amazing answers to Elijah’s prayer were not so much predicated on his status as prophet. Isn’t that what James is pointing out to us in the fifth chapter of his epistle? “Elijah was a man with a nature just like ours.” In other words, we may not all be powerful prophets, but we can all be powerful pray-ers like Elijah … because he was made of no different stuff than we are! There is no reason, James says, why we cannot pray as Elijah did!
But notice also that, though Elijah’s nature was not extraordinary, the fervency of his prayers was! Elijah “prayed earnestly.” And 1 Kings 18.41-46 gives us a picture of what fervent prayer looks like: Elijah never quit bowing his head in prayer until God answered. He believed God wanted to answer, so he was persistent. Are you persistent in prayer? Or are there areas in which you have given up on God? I remind you that earnest, fervent, persistent prayer reaps marvelous results – like rain after a forty-two month drought!
Now what is left for you to do? Seek the face of the Lord in prayer! Pray for yourself and your family. Pray for your co-workers and friends. Pray for your church family. And most of all, pray for the concerns of the kingdom of God and the advance of the gospel into our neighborhoods and the nations! Our Sunday morning prayer meetings would offer you great help in learning how to pray – even if you just began by listening to others, and praying silently to God in your own heart. So would you begin joining us on Sundays at 9am? There’s nothing like a room full of Elijah’s waiting on big answers from the Lord!