COME AS YOU ARE DON’T LEAVE AS YOU CAME
The Prayers of Elijah (1 Kings 18:30-46)
HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
THE PRODUCTS OF ELIJAH’S PRAYER (verses 45-46)
RAIN ON THE LAND (verse 45)
The drought was broken through the prayer of faith according to the will of God, but the ultimate goal was the removal of the spiritual drought in Israel. It was designed to turn sinners from seeking life apart from God. This is the context for the way James uses Elijah as an illustration of the effectual working of a righteous man. The Lord often waits to answer our prayers for physical needs in order to deal with our spiritual needs. It becomes the means of ending the spiritual drought in our own souls and then in our community.
STRENGTH FOR ELIJAH (verse 46)
Elijah received supernatural strength to outrun Ahab. This undoubtedly portrays the dynamic effects of living in the Word and prayer. The disciplines of Bible study and prayer (when done in faith rather than in a spirit of legalism) bring energy to a sagging spirit that often wants to give up or throw in the towel. They bring vitality into the life of the believer as we are taught in Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint.
THE LESSON FOR ELIJAH’S SERVANT
There is another effect to the praying of Elijah in this passage. It’s not mentioned in the text, but can you imagine the effect this must have had on the servant? What must this have done for his spiritual growth?
A neat illustration is found in the book, Elijah, by Howard Hendricks:
We have a lovely family in our community. The father felt God was compelling him into vocational Christian work. So he sold his business at a loss and entered the work to which the Lord had called him. And things got rather rough financially.
One night at family devotions, Timmy, the youngest of four boys, asked, “Daddy, do you think Jesus would mind if I asked Him for a shirt?” “Of course not,” answered his dad. So they wrote in their little prayer-request book, “Shirt for Timmy.” Mom added, “Size seven.” You can be sure that every night Timmy saw to it that they prayed for the shirt. For weeks they prayed for it–every night.
One day the mother received a telephone call from a Christian businessman, a clothier in downtown Dallas. He said, “I just completed our July clearance sale. Knowing that you have four boys it occurred to me that I have something you might use. Could you use some boys’ shirts?” She said, “What size?” “Size seven.” “How many do you have?” He said, “I have twelve of them.”
What would you do? Some parents would take the shirts and stuff them in the bureau drawer and make some casual comments to the child. Not this enlightened family. That night, as expected–“Don’t forget, Mommy, let’s pray for the shirt.” “We don’t have to pray for the shirt, Timmy. The Lord answered your prayer.” “He has?” “Right.” As previously arranged, brother Tommy goes out, gets the shirt, brings it in, and puts it on the table. Timmy’s eyes are like saucers. Tommy goes out, gets another shirt and brings it in. Out, back, out, back, until he has piled twelve shirts on the table, and Timmy thinks God has gone into the shirt business. There is a boy today by the name of Timmy who still believes that there is a God in heaven who is interested enough in a boy’s needs to provide a shirt. Do your kids know that? Do you know that in an affluent society?
Sometimes we have to write “No” in the answer column . . . this is just as much an answer as a yes.
While we should not look back to our experiences as the primary basis of our faith for the future, certainly such memorable experiences have a dynamic impact on our faith as they remind us of God’s faithfulness.