James now gives us an example of the type of righteous person and effective prayer we should mimic in our lives. He uses Elijah of all the people in the Bible he could have used. I pondered why he would have used Elijah and so I went through and reread the story of Elijah in 1st Kings chapter 17 through 19. There’s some very interesting things that we can take from this story.
From all that we read in the Bible Elijah was not very well known before he came into the king’s court in 1st Kings chapter 17. This is the first mention we have of him in the Bible. So we don’t know if he was a well-known prophet or if this announcement before the King was at the beginning of his prophetic Ministry. In either case the appearance before the King was very bold.
What would you say to God if he told you to go before the president of the United States and tell him that it would not rain until you said so? You’ll notice in 1st Kings 17 1 that a time frame is not given. Sometimes I wonder if Elijah even knew how long the rain would be stopped. If it was me I think I would argue with God for a little while and everytime God would say back to me tht he wiuld take care if thhe details I should just give the message. There are many timmes God asks us to give someone a word of encouragemet or rebuke. If you are a preacher or teacher hopefuly you allow God to dircet your words. In any if these cases, it is imperative we say what God wants us to say and then leave the rest to him. His word will not return void! (Isaiah 55:11).
It would have been a scary thing try to get before the president and it was just as difficult to get in front of a king. It was worrisomoe because Ahab was not following God ly counsell at the tiime. But somehow Elijah was able to get there and pronounce this word of judgement for all the kingdom. One of the boldest acts in the whole Bible by a prophet. It ranks right up there with Moses going to pharaoh and Nathan going to David. Elijah was bold and we need to be bold as well. We should never shy away from giving a word when God asks us to, no matter how difficut that word is.
Right after Elijah gives this word God tells him to go hide by the brook Kidron and the Ravens will bring food to him. Once again Elijah has to trust God completely because as you know ravens typically are birds that eat any food they come across. They are not gatherers. But God can direct anything in our lives and Elijah trusted God. Notice that Elijah does not pray that God will provide for him. God tells him that he would provide. We worry so much about our provision and God is always there ready to provide for us.
We are not told how long he is there by the river but without any rain the brook evenntually dries up. God directs Elijah to go to a widow of all people and she would provide for him. What would you think if God told you to go to someone who had no provider. Widows were typically alone and rarely were taken care of. Think of the poorest people you come across. If God told you to go to them for provision, would you trust Him to foolow through, or would you have a tendancy to seek out other means? This sounds like a crazy thing for God to say but we know he’s always doing with his best.
1st Kings 17 9 through 24 tell the story of Elijah with the widow, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with. The widow only has enough for one cake to be baked and then they will starve. Elijah does what we might see as a very selfish statement – He tells her that if she will give him the cake first she will be blessed. The faith if the widow is tried and she follows the prophet’s words and her provision never fails her. Somehow the flour and the water lasts and lasts and lasts, even though it look like only one cake would be left. Through a simple act of faith the widow is rewarded immensely. I have to ask myself If I would have given someone the last morsel of food I have. Quitae an act of faith oo th2e widow’s part.
After a while the widow’s son dies and Elijah brings him back to life by the power of God. So Elijah did not go to the Widow to be provided for. He went to the widow so she would be provided for but God had a bigger plan. Not only did the widow get the provision she needed, but her son lived and he would become her provider. fFrom death to life – that is God’s way!
We never know what God will do if we are just obedient. God can do anything through our obedience. It may look like a simple thing that we are doing and sometimes it may look like a selfish thing that we are doing but God will provide. I’m sure Elijah, because he did have similar passions as we do, was very questioning on going to the widow. I amm also sure he gave praise to God once this was done.
1st Kings chapter 18 we see God tell Elijah to go and face Ahab. At the tiime Ahab is out for his blood because Ahap thiinks Elijah is the one who is troubling Israel. He doesn’t realize that he is the one causing he trouble. Ahab wants to get Elijah to pray the rain will start again. Jezebel had ordered the destruction of all of the prophets of God, but Obadiah the prophet stays faithful to God. He brought Elijah to the king and Elijah told the king it was he is the real trouble. Another very bold satement! Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to prove that God was the one true God
This is a wonderful story and I’m not going to recount the whole thing to you. In 1st Kings 18:21-40 we read of the challenge and the fact that the prophets of Baal, 400 in number, could not call fire down on the altar as much as they tried. But Elijah, with one simple prayer, brought fire down that lapped up even the rocks and the water that Elijah drenched altar with. Then Elijah killed all 400 of the prophets of Baal and told Ahab it would now rain. Three years had passed annd it was time. We read the account in versus 45 to 49 of the rain coming and Elijah on foot going faster than Ahab in his chariot.
We have the right to challenge those who are of a different faith. Our God is able to do things that other gods cannot do and we should do whatever we can to show them how powerful our God is. There is nothing that compares to him and he can still do these things today if we have the faith that Elijah had. Remember he was a man of like passions and he was passionate about his God.
But then in chapter 19 we see another way that Elijah is similar to us. He was challenged by Jezebel, who said that she would destroy him, and Elijah just went into hiding and wished he was dead. Depression set in even after this great victory and Elijah became afraid and worried. Isn’t it funny how after a great victory we can fall into a place where we wonder if God will provide. We see this over and over again in the Bible. And it’s true in our lives as well. We must guard against the ups and downs of our Christian walk and do everything we can to keep it on a steady level. The only way to do that is to keep our eyes on him and our ears open.
God then directs Elijah to go to the mountain. Eijah goes too themountainn and hides inn a cleft in the rocks. This is one of my favorite portions of scripture. First God asks Elijah “What are you doing here?” I believe the emphasis is on the word here. Why is he hiding in this place? What is he doing for God just being there? Eijah complains that he is the only one left who is faithful to God. And then he sends a storm and a fire an earthquake. Elijah look for God in each one of these things but could not find him. Don’t we seem to look for God in the middle of troubling events in our lives? We pray when we have troubles going on? We listen for his voice to tell us what to do when we are in difficult circumstances? Then when all of this is done there’s a still small voice.
That is usually how God will speak to us. And so often the world around us drowns out that still small voice and we do not hear what God has to say to us. The earthquakes and the storms and the fire of life is to overwhelming and we concentrate on them instead of listening for God. And wth that still small voice God ask Elijah once again “What are you doing here?”. I believe the emphasis this time is on the word doing. The question centers on the fact that Elijah was afraid and had run away from his duties.When the storms of life come, do we takke them as an opportunity to minster to others through our testimony, or wo we wallow and stew about our difficulties? Elijah once again complains he’s the only one left but God says there is 7000 more that are faithful and he’s not alone in seeking out the Lord.
Always realize that you are never alone. There are people out there who will support you and help you if you just call for help. Know that there are others who will support you and take care of you through their prayers in the quest to the Lord. He loves you and will never abandon you.
When you are having difficult times James says we must remember these types of people in our lives. I pray that the example of Elijah will be one that will bless you day after day they as go to prayer for those around you. Pray with effectiveness and stay righteous before God. If this happens your prayers will avail much, just like Elijah’s did!