COME AS YOU ARE DON’T LEAVE AS YOU CAME
The Prayers of Elijah (1 Kings 18:30-46)
The Confrontation on Mount Carmel (Scene 6)
This study in 1 Kings 18 is extremely relevant. This is evident by the promises and principles of:
1 Timothy 2:1-8, I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
2 Chronicles 7:14, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Psalm 33:12, Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Proverbs 14:34, Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
… and by the national decay, we have witnessed in our nation over the past 30 years. We have seen our nation slide into the gutter of secular humanism and its sidekick–gross immorality. While there are still thousands of believers in our nation and “in God, we trust” is still on our coins, we are no longer a nation whose God is the Lord, not in the biblical sense.
Instead, we worship at the altar of a modern Baal with a strange mixture of idols consisting of materialism, secularism, ecumenicalism, and New Age mysticism. For most people today, even if they believe in God, He is not a real issue in their lives and a large portion of the population does not believe in absolutes. Recent surveys show this is true even with many who profess to be Christians. Though confessing some kind of faith in God, many live as practical atheists. Many are caught up in one of the cults or even in the occult.
What is desperately needed in our society today are more men and women who, like Elijah, can have an Elijah-like impact on this society. Elijah was used to turning the hearts of the people back to the Lord (18:37). But what was so special about this man? James reminds us that he was a man of like passions with us, but then James goes on to show that the thing that made him effective in his day of spiritual and moral decadence was his prayer life.
In the next section of chapter 18, verses 30-46, we get a glimpse of Elijah as a man of prayer. In this section, we see:
- (a) Elijah’s preparation for prayer in verses 30-35;
- (b) his public prayer and its results–fire from heaven, hearts returned to the Lord, and the Baal prophets removed in verses 36-40; and
- (c) his private prayer and its results: rain from heaven and special strength in verses 41-46.
Elijah’s influence was primarily felt in the northern kingdom, not the southern kingdom. His ministry was to the north. Likewise, we all have our own areas of influence and places of impact. This varies with each one of us, but faith, faithfulness, integrity, and effectual prayer can tremendously increase our capacity for influence, wherever that happens to be.
Do you want a pattern for your prayer life? Do you want to effectively change your life and increase the effectiveness of your prayer life and your impact? Then, absorb the details of this passage and claim the promise of James 5. James, the Lord’s half brother, was nicknamed “Camel Knees” because of the calluses that developed on his knees from long hours in prayer. Well, who do you suppose God used to turn James into such a man of prayer? It was probably none other than Elijah.
For the size of the epistle, James says more about prayer than any other New Testament book. Over 14 verses in James are devoted specifically to prayer or principles of prayer. Compare 1:5-8, 3:9-10, 4:2-3 (actually everything in between is related), and 5:13-18. This is equivalent to about 15 per cent of the book.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW …