Now, when I originally planned out the Super series, I intended on relating the story of Elijah and connecting him to Flash based on the way he outruns a chariot at the end of 1 Kings 18. But the Lord led me in a different direction with this lesson. Instead, I'd like to focus on what happened just before that.
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. -- James 5:17-18
It didn't rain for three and a half years after Elijah prayed! That's one long drought. Then he prays again and down comes the rain. Could you imagine being able to pray like that? We all know that God hears and sees everything, but doesn't it seem like some people in the Bible have a direct line to God? Like they've got some sort of celestial red phone they can pick up and call in miracles? It would be nice to know where to find one of those. What was so special about Elijah? Ready for the answer?
Nothing. Look at that passage above one more time. Elijah was a man just like us. He didn't have a red line. He wasn't super holy. He was just like us. So what can we learn from the way he prayed? Here's some things I've picked up from Bible studies and sermons over the years. Take a look at 1 Kings 18:41-45. Here are five things we can learn from the way this regular guy prayed.
- Pray with Faith - And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain." (1 Kings 18:41) At this point, Elijah hadn't even prayed for rain. Nobody else seemed to know it was going to rain. The rain cloud hadn't even formed yet. So how could Elijah have heard rain? He believed so strongly that God would answer, that he could literally hear it coming. When you pray, do you have that kind of faith? Can you see with the eyes of faith? Do you believe firmly that God can do what you're asking?
- Pray with Humility - So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. (1 Kings 18:42) Elijah's not in some cozy church with cushioned kneelers. He's up on a mountain. With rocks and stuff. Look at his posture when he prays. He gets down on the ground with the rocks and sticks his face between his knees when he prays. It's a posture of humility. It's a posture that says, "God you are in charge and I am just your servant." Remember that when you pray, you are not issuing orders to God. He's not your pet or genie. You are a servant making a request of your King. A child making a request of your Father.
- Pray with Persistence - "Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. And he went up and looked. "There is nothing there," he said. Seven times Elijah said, "Go back." (1 Kings 18:43) Elijah prayed for rain. And nothing happened. So he prayed again. And nothing happened. It wasn't until he had prayed seven times that he sees any sort of answer. For whatever reason, God's timing wasn't the same as Elijah's timing here. Elijah kept praying til he saw something happening. When you pray, do you pray once and quit? Or do you keep praying until God answers? Pray like Elijah. Pray until God answers or clearly tells you no.
- Pray with Submission - After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land." (1 Kings 18:1) Elijah wasn't asking for selfish stuff here. He was asking God to do something God already said He would do! He was praying in line with God's will. This is what Jesus was talking about when He taught us to pray Your kingdom come, Your will be done. It's ok to pray for things you want. But do you take time to pray in line with what you know God wants? Do you take time to pray that God would help you share the gospel with the people in your life? Do you pray that God would help you to be a peacemaker when there is family drama? Do you pray in submission to God's will?
- Pray Watchfully - The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea." So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.'" (1 Kings 18:44) As mentioned before, Elijah didn't stop praying until God answered. But notice that he wasn't waiting around to find out. He was checking. He had his servant watching for the clouds. He was keeping his eyes open to see what God would do. When you pray, do you watch? Often I pray and forget. But then I miss out on the excitement when God answers because I don't even notice. I may even miss out on the opportunities God is providing in response to my prayer. When we pray, we need to keep our eyes open for what God might be doing. Next time you pray for so and so to get saved, start paying attention for moments that God provides for you to share the gospel. Pray watchfully.
Elijah was just an ordinary man. He loved God and sought to live for him, but he was ordinary like you and I. Prayer is an incredibly powerful thing. It's not a magic wand that can order God around, but it's a conversation with your Heavenly Father who loves you. Put some of these tips from Elijah into practice. Who knows, they may improve your prayer life. Let me know what happens!