I Kings 16:29-224; 17:1-19:18
“And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.’ 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.” ~I Kings 18:41-42
Someone once made a study of all the promises that God has made in the Bible, and came up with a total of 7,474. That’s a lot of promises! Now some of those promises are general in nature. Others are specific; ones that we can appropriate in response to specific needs. Whatever the case, one thing we know about God: He makes promises—and he fulfills them!
Yet we have a part to play in securing God’s promises for our lives, because even though his promises are sure, they are not automatic. Often, there is a gap between God’s promise and its fulfillment, and that gap can be closed only through our prayers.
That’s the truth we observe with Elijah in I Kings 18:41-46. God had sent Elijah to pronounce drought against King Ahab and Israel because of the sin—a severe drought of three and a half years. Then in I Kings 18:1, God is ready to call off the drought, so he commands Elijah to go present himself to the king. So Elijah announces to Ahab that the time has come for God to end Israel’s punishment by sending rain: “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” (I Kings 18:41) “Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.” (I Kings 18:44)
Now here is a powerful point to this story that might be easy to overlook: Not only did Elijah proclaim God’s promise concerning rain, he then obtained God’s promise of rain in prayer. Elijah did some major power praying to procure God’s promise. Notice seven actions:
- Elijah separated himself to pray. “So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel.” (I Kings 18:42)
- Elijah took a posture of humility. “He bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.” (I Kings 18:42)
- Elijah expected results. “Go and look toward the sea.” (I Kings 18:43, compare James 1:6-7)
- Elijah persisted. “Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back’” and look for rain. (I Kings 18:43)
- Elijah acted upon his prayer in faith. “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.’” (I Kings 18:44)
- Elijah’s praying produced results. “And there was a great rain.” (I Kings 18:45, compare with James 5:16.)
- Elijah’s prayer produced empowerment. “The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to Jezreel.” (I Kings 18:46)
Could it be that Elijah’s story is there to remind us that this is what we should experience in prayer? No doubt about it! In fact, we are told in James 5:17-18 that the drought began because Elijah prayed and the rains returned after three and a half years of drought because he prayed. Then James adds that Elijah was a man just like us, who just happened to pray earnestly.
The implication from this is that we too can become powerful people for God—if we pray. And if we are to pray those Elijah-like prayers that are “powerful and effective” (James 5:16), we must understand how to link our prayers with God’s promises, and then start doing some major power praying to procure those promises.
Think about it: Power praying is simply obtaining what God has already provided.
“Our prayer pleases God because he has commanded it, made promises, and given form to our prayer. For that reason, he is pleased with our prayer, he requires it and delights in it, because he promises, commands, and shapes it…Then he says, ‘I will hear.’ It is not only guaranteed, but it is already actually obtained.” ~Martin Luther