Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. - James 5:17
When we look to the Bible, we see story after story of God coming through for His people with miraculous, specific, answers to prayer when they need it most. When we look to our world and our own lives, we see spaces where we need God to act to bring about seemingly impossible solutions.
You are reading this right now, preparing yourself to pray today, because you want to see God move! We are living through a moment in history where the brokenness of our world is before our eyes, and those of us who previously felt safe in our comfort have been deeply unsettled by circumstances we cannot control. We worship the God of the Bible, and pray today to the same listening and attentive God who answered Elijah’s prayers.
The scripture above comes at the end of the book of James, in his closing exhortation to respond to various types of circumstances and feelings with prayer. He writes, if you’re in trouble - pray. If you’re happy, sing songs of praise. If you’re ill, call the elders to pray. Because, ‘the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.’ Meaning: be encouraged that your prayers have great power to actually affect things - and not only affect things, but positively so - in the way you hope and intend!
Then, James uses this example of Elijah.
Three reasons to be encouraged today as you pray:
Elijah was a human being, like you.
If you’re anything like me, because the Bible is a collection of ancient texts; differences in culture and time can sometimes make characters like Elijah start to feel ‘other-worldly’. Almost, less real in some sense. As iconic Old Testament figures, the details of their lives are so far removed from us that we can forget the simple truth that they were like us. We share the same human nature as Elijah, and our prayers can be just as powerful and effective.
If 2020 so far has left you feeling more aware of the limitations of your humanness, you are not alone. Elijah had all the same human limitations, and God heard his prayers and did the God thing only He could do.
Your prayers being answered does not depend on your Godlikeness, but God’s Godness. It should be obvious - but we forget.
Ask God today: Are there prayers I’m holding off praying because I believe a lie about who I need to be first?!
Are there prayers I’m holding off praying for any reason!?
2. Elijah did not stop the rain, he prayed earnestly.
To pray earnestly is to pray as if you take your prayers seriously. There are problems in our world which we cannot solve, there are things in our own lives we cannot make happen, and we get to choose how we respond. We can freak out because of the impossibility of what is before us; we can scramble and fuss and fret for solutions of our own making, or we can get on our knees and pray as if it really might make a difference. In the immense seriousness of everything going on around us, we can’t fix everything, but we can choose to take prayer seriously.
Reflect: Do you take your prayers seriously? If yes, do you pray as if you do? If not, ask God to transform your mind and raise your expectations as you pray today!
3. His specific prayers were answered.
Sometimes God will answer prayers in ways you don’t expect or desire. But sometimes He will answer your specific prayer in exactly the way you ask. Sometimes we’re afraid to pray specifically in case we’re somehow not allowed to, or in case we’re disappointed, or out of some sense that we just need to let God do whatever He wants to do in our lives - but all the way through the Bible we see God responding to very specific prayers of His people. Praying specifically and recording these prayers sets God up to be praised when He answers. The more specific prayers you pray and record, the more you will notice God at work, and the more stories you will collect of God answering your prayers.
Assess: What am I praying for during these 40 days? Are my prayers specific? Can I make them more so?
Record and pray specific prayers today, with a humble heart, ready to see God answer however He wills. And then prepare to fill in the blanks.
(Your name) was a man/woman with a nature like ours, yet he/she prayed earnestly that ________________ and....