COME AS YOU ARE DON’T LEAVE AS YOU CAME
The Prayers of Elijah (1 Kings 18:30-46)
Elijah’s Private Prayer
(1 Kings 18:41-46)
A CONTRAST OF PERSONS (VS. 41)
It appears Ahab goes up to eat and drink totally unappreciative of the grace of God. He is a picture of hardened insensitivity from years of rejecting the Lord. For three-and-a-half years his kingdom had faced a severe drought and famine covered the land. The prophets of Baal had now been slain before his eyes and God had performed a miracle through Elijah, a prophet of the Lord. Still, God was simply not in Ahab’s thoughts. He had but one thought. “Rain is coming, the famine will pass, so now I can enjoy myself without hindrance.”On the other hand, Elijah knew his work was not done. God works through prayer and he went up to the top of the mountain to pray.
This obvious contrast is a warning to all of us. It shows what can happen to the human heart. One man is occupied with himself and his own plans. One is occupied with the Lord and His promises. May this be a warning to all of us. Our prayer life and our hunger for the Word are clear barometers of the condition of our hearts. When we continue to ignore God’s revelation and pursue our own desires and plans, it has a hardening effect on the heart (Hebrews 3:7-13; Mark 6:51-52).
THE BASIS FOR ELIJAH’S PRAYER
The basis for Elijah’s actions was, of course, the promise God made to him in 18:1. But why pray? God had said, “rain is coming.” In Matthew 6:32, warning the disciples against wrong priorities and being anxious over the details of life, the Lord said, “for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” If He knows and He cares and He has promised to meet all our needs according to His riches in glory, then why pray? I believe the answer lies in two very simple principles of the Word.
(1) Prayer is the human tool of faith that God has sovereignly chosen to translate His promises into performance. God not only ordains the end, i.e., the rain, but He also ordains the means of making the promise a reality, prayer. The second principle flows out of the first.
(2) Prayer is also one of the means God uses to draw us to Himself and to conform us to His will. Prayer reveals our dependence on the Lord and keeps us dependent and occupied with Him. This not only glorifies the Lord, but it promotes spiritual growth in us as it builds our faith and keeps us focused on Him.
Right after the Lord said, “for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things,” he also said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Then, in the next chapter, He said, “Keep on asking . . .” (Matthew 7:7). The Christian life is a life of faith and occupation with the Lord, a life of trusting and developing a relationship and commitment to God. Prayer is the hand of faith that reaches out and grasps the promises of God. It is one of the instruments God uses to mould us into His image and purposes.
THE MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE OF CARMEL
Perhaps there is an analogy here that comes out of the meaning of the name of this mountain where the contest occurred and where Elijah prayed for the rain that would bring fruitfulness to the land. As seen earlier, “Carmel” is a Hebrew word that means “a garden land, a place of fruitfulness or fertility.” It comes from Karam, “to tend vines” or Kerem, “a vineyard.”Elijah went to the place of fruitfulness. The place of fruitfulness is our prayer life if we are praying biblically.
ELIJAH’S POSITION IN PRAYER (verse. 42B)
This simply shows us Elijah prayed earnestly or fervently (James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months). He was genuine. He was not merely being religious nor was he trying to impress God by falling on his knees. Kneeling merely expressed the genuineness of his heart and was undoubtedly a position in which he could concentrate, but it gained no merit with the Lord nor was it the means of getting God to answer. A number of postures are seen used in Scripture for prayer–standing, kneeling, prostrate, the hands raised, etc. It’s not the posture that counts. It’s the heart, the attitude, the motives, the faith, and the nature of the prayer according to the will of God.
Believers are not commanded to assume any special position. We should assume a position that will allow us to think and focus on the Lord–this is what counts. If some people assumed Elijah’s position for any length of time, they might not be able to get back on their feet. They would need a tow truck.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW …