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. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
The Bible tells us that Elijah was just as human as any of us, yet when he prayed – God responded. What caused this man’s prayers to be so powerful?
I. ELIJAH’S PRAYERS WERE EFFECTIVE BECAUSE HE WAS IN THE WILL OF GOD
What does it mean to be in the will of God? There are at least two very important aspects:
A. Our Relationship with God Must Be Right (see yesterday’s study)
B. Our Requests of God Must Be Right
Elijah lived during a time when the nation of Israel was very sinful. Their king was a wicked man named Ahab who was married to a wicked woman named Jezebel. Consider what the Bible says about the leadership of Ahab and Jezebel. “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.” (1 Kings 16:30) As wicked as Ahab was, the Bible seems to indicate that his wife was even worse. Jezebel was not a Jew, but a Gentile from the country of Sidon or Phoenicia. During her time as Queen of Israel she promoted the idolatrous worship of a god called Baal whom many believed controlled the weather and thus the productivity of the land. In other words, in order to be prosperous, one needed to appease Baal. Many were willing to go to any extent to gain favor with this god which often included the offering up of their children as human sacrifices.
In an attempt to purge the worship of Baal from His people, God confronted this sinful worship head-on. “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.’ (1 Kings 17:1) Ahab knew that Elijah was a prophet of God and that what he said was from the LORD. Elijah’s prayers were powerful because he was in the center of God’s will.
According to Christ, the foundation of our prayers should be for God’s will to be done and for His name to be glorified. “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10) Prayer is not about getting earth’s will done in heaven, but getting heaven’s will done here on earth.
One of my favorite stories concerning the power of prayer involves a man named George Muller. It has been said that Mueller often read scripture on his knees. In other words, George Mueller carefully examined the Word of God in order to discover the will of God and once he discovered it, he prayed in faith for that will to be done. As a result, God often answered Mueller’s prayers in miraculous ways.