Ever since Greg Stier spoke at the National Youth Workers Convention, I’ve been thinking about something he said. He read the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 19), about how the prophets of Baal prayed and begged their god for hours and hours for a single spark of fire on their alter. When none came, they prayed even more earnestly, even mutilating their own bodies in desperation, but still there was no answer from Baal. Finally at the end of the day it was Elijah’s turn. He calmly prepared the sacrifice, drenched everything with water and simply prayed,
“O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” (1 Kings 18:36-37)
The idea in scripture is that God IMMEDIATELY answered his prayer by sending down fire from heaven that not only burned the sacrificed bull, but also consumed the entire alter, stones, water and everything! WOW!!
Man, I pray like a wuss!
- When I pray I like to remain somewhat reserved and not pray for things that are too radical so I don’t unnecessarily get my hopes up.
- I like to pray for things I feel like I can still keep some kind of control over in case I need to help God out.
- I like to pray with 50/50 faith: “Maybe God will answer, maybe He won’t. Who knows? Let’s see what happens.”
In comparison, I observe a couple things about Elijah.
- He risked his life to be in public. He was a wanted man for being a prophet of God (1 Kings 18:9-14). There was a death wish on his head, so for him to come out from hiding was a very bold and risky action.
- He obeyed God with such confidence that he was willing to put his neck and God’s reputation on the line.
- Because of his obedience, he could boldly pray according to the will of God.
- He had no control over the outcome of his prayer or his obedience to God. For all he knew, God would use this situation to prove something else or nothing at all. He had great faith to proceed.
Here’s the number one thing I learn from Elijah’s example: Maybe I don’t always experience the power of God in my life because I rarely give Him the opportunity to do so.
I go to James 5:16 in the New Testament, a verse I memorized for the community aspect of praying for each other. However, I often overlook the second half that says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” If I want to have a prayer life that is “powerful and effective,” apparently the key ingredient to the recipe is righteousness. The obvious question I then ask myself is, “What is righteousness?” and “Do I have it?”
The Message puts it this way: “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”
That’s what I want, to be like Elijah and live right with God. I want my prayer life to be something that’s powerful to be reckoned with. I want to live a life for Him that’s bold, risky, confident, obedient and is right smack in the middle of His will.
Whew! Easier said than done.
Posted on October 25, 2006