James 5:17 ~ "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth."
We look at the men and women of the Scriptures and see the great achievements and amazing communion they enjoyed with God. God spoke to Moses face to face (see Exodus 33:11). Abraham was considered God's friend (see Isaiah 41:8). David was that man who was after God's own heart (see Acts 13:22).
And then there was Elijah.
The premier prophet of Israel. Along with Moses, he was the companion of Christ on the mountain of transfiguration. The man who stood against the false prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven. This prophet, Elijah, was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, separated from his companion, Elisha, by the burning chariots of God. Even John the Baptist was called the "Elijah who was to come." This Old Testament prophet appears in the Scriptures as a bulwark of a man, a resounding saint that stands firmly entrenched in his absolute trust in God Almighty.
And then James tells us that "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours." Literally, Elijah was just as human as you and I. For all the moments of opportunity to serve the Lord and see God do amazing things, Elijah was still a sinner saved by grace. It is hard for us to imagine that the prophet was anything like us, but the truth is--there is only one who is good and that is God alone (see Mark 10:18). The rest of the world, including the great saints of God, are still just like us.
There are three words that tell us much of Elijah's connection with God: "and he prayed." There are several times that we see the prophet crying out to the Lord in prayer. He prayed for the widow's son in 1 Kings 17:20, "And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?" He prayed on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18:36, "And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, 'O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.'" He prayed while hiding in the cave (see 1 Kings 19:9-18).
And, from our text above, we know that he prayed that it should stop raining--and it did.
But why were Elijah's prayers so effective? The text just before our text for today will tell us: "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16). And that's the key... the prayer of a righteous person.
But how can Elijah be considered a righteous person if he is a person just like us? We know ourselves, see ourselves in truth, and know that there is nothing of great righteousness in us. In fact, does not the Scriptures teach that there are none righteous, no, not one (see Romans 3:10). How, then, can there be any effective and powerful prayers?
The answer is--Elijah believed God. Just as it was spoken of Abraham, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness" (Romans 4:3). Elijah believed in God, which moved him to believe God, to take God at His word, trusting His promises and living in obedience to the Lord. If you believe in Christ, do you also believe Him? It is necessary in order to pray. Doubting does not produce a prayerful life (see James 1:6).
John tells us in 1 John 5:14-15, "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."
One of the droughts of the church in this modern era is prayer. And one of the prime reasons why God's people don't pray is a lack of confidence in prayer. But, beloved, you, too, can pray--even as Elijah prayed and saw God move according to His promises. Elijah prayed in confidence because he faithfully trusted what God had said. And you, my friend, can do the same.
In His Grace,
From the Mountains to the Sea
Every step we take on this journey called life ought to be used for greater understanding. I've lived from the mountains to the sea, and this blog is my personal thoughts and observations with a desire for Biblical understanding. Welcome.