The Details of You

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

God has a plan. He never does things randomly, but he always does them redemptively. Every project he begins he brings to a completion befitting his glorious sovereign plan for the ages—which includes you.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 6:11-13

Then the Lord gave this message to Solomon: “Concerning this Temple you are building, if you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. I will live among the Israelites and will never abandon my people Israel.”

As you read 1 Kings 6, you could pick any verse in the chapter, save for those I have selected as our devotional focus, and you will encounter details about the construction of the temple. This is a chapter that an architect or a builder might enjoy, but the endless accounting of the building materials that were used in this project are mind-numbing for ordinary people like you and me. And this isn’t the first place in the Bible, nor will it be the last place, that we will be treated to the architectural minutiae of buildings belonging to God.

When Moses constructed the tabernacle, we were treated to the details. Between Exodus 25-31, pick a verse, any verse, and you will get more information on the construction of the tabernacle, its furnishings and the priestly garments that you will know what to do with. But those details mattered to God, who told Moses, “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” (Exodus 25:40)

When we go to the end of the Bible, we are again invited into the architectural details of the heavenly Jerusalem—and this place we will call our eternal home is beautiful beyond words:

The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. (Revelations 21:19-21)

I am not even sure what some of those precious materials are, but my guess is the stunning wonder of the place will cause my jaw to drop in amazement. And then John the Revelator adds this word at the end of his description:

But I saw no temple in the heavenly Jerusalem, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21:22)

So why is God so enamored with the details? Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the writers of scripture to include the minutiae of the building projects. Well, there are probably more reasons than I understand, but at the top of the list is the fact that God is preparing a place where he can dwell with us forever. As the Lord told Moses, “make it according to the pattern I gave you,” and as he showed John, “I will be the temple,” God is giving exacting attention to the place where you and I live forever.

In light of that, there are several things we learn about God as we consider his concern over how things get done:

  1. God is a God of details. He is orderly and purposeful; creative and organically artistic. What that means, among other things, is that he hovers over the chaos, as he did by his Spirit over the formlessness of creation in Genesis 1, and forth brings order, purpose and beauty out of it. And if he did that for the larger creation, he will do that for even the smallest features of his creation—you and me.
  2. God has a plan. He never does things randomly, but he always does them redemptively. Every project he begins he brings to a completion befitting his glorious sovereign plan for the ages—which includes you and me.
  3. You are God’s building. You are God’s temple. The Apostle Paul said, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) The implication of Paul’s context is that God cares about the details of how you are being built as his dwelling place. He is not pleased when his temple—you—are violated with unholy things, and he is pleased when you are edified with holy and eternal things. As he reminded Solomon, he is working on you because he plans to make his home with you and in you.

Why the details; why does God fixate on the minutiae of his buildings; why does he include these “laborious” accounts so often in scripture? Because he has you in mind. He cares about the details of you. He is watching over you, constructing you and has great plans for you that will be lovingly displayed throughout all eternity.

When you are getting bogged down in the details, just read yourself into the description. Just as God worked on the details of the tabernacle, and the temple, and is working on the details of the New Jerusalem, God is also just as committed to working out the details of you.

Going Deeper With God: Re-read this 1 Kings 6 in this light, that it is about you. Take a moment to celebrate God’s plans for your life.

We Are Part of God’s Plan, But We Are Not The Plan

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

We are not God’s plan, we are a part of it. We are baton-passers! And while we might think that God owes us everything we want to do for him in this life, there is something far more important and much more satisfying that we should seek to do: in our leg of the race, run strongly and pass the baton well. Ultimately, when we do that well, God wins—and that is our best victory!

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 5:3-5,29-34

“My father, David, was not able to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord his God because of the many wars waged against him by surrounding nations. He could not build until the Lord gave him victory over all his enemies. But now the Lord my God has given me peace on every side; I have no enemies, and all is well. So I am planning to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God, just as he had instructed my father, David. For the Lord told him, ‘Your son, whom I will place on your throne, will build the Temple to honor my name.’”

Of course, we are the apple of God’s eye. (Psalm 17:8) Of course, God loves each and every one of us as if there were only one of us—a paraphrase of St. Augustine, who wrote, “You are good and all-powerful, caring for each one of us as though the only one in your care.” Of course, God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives, cares for even the minute details of what we want and need (Matthew 6:25-34) and unleashes his power in us “to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Yes, those are true, and then some! God is a gracious, generous Father to those who call on his name and live according to his Word and have accepted his Son by faith as Savior and Lord. And that is more than we deserve by a million miles and infinitely beyond what we can absorb.

Yet it is important that you keep all of these wonderful realities of belonging to God as his favored child in the right perspective. Me, too! We are not the be all to end all of God’s plan for the ages. We are a part of God’s plan, but we are not the plan. Why is that important to know? I will get to that in a moment, but first, let’s root that thought in what Solomon said in the passage above.

Solomon was now firmly established as king over Israel, and his reign was considered as the Golden Age of Israel. The nation had expanded its borders, power, wealth, and influence, and now it was at peace. No other country wanted to take them on; every king wanted to be Solomon’s friend. That included a good man by the name of King Hiram, who reigned in Lebanon. He had been a friend to Solomon’s father, King David. Now Hiram sent Solomon a message of congratulations through his ambassadors (I Kings 5:1) and Solomon responded with a request for lumber from the forests of Lebanon to build the temple in Jerusalem. He wanted to use beams and paneling from the famed cedars in Hiram’s forests. Ultimately, Hiram became a key partner in the architectural wonder that Jerusalem became under Solomon’s rule. (1 Kings 5:10,12, 18, 1 Kings 9:14, 27, 1 Kings 10:11, 22)

But Solomon said something very insightful in his initial response to Hiram’s congratulatory message that we would be wise to understand and apply to our own hopes, dreams and plans:

My father, David, could not build until the Lord gave him victory over all his enemies. But now the Lord my God has given me peace on every side; I have no enemies, and all is well. So I am planning to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God, just as he had instructed my father, David. (1 Kings 5:3-5)

David desperately wanted to build the temple in Jerusalem out of his deep love for God and gratitude for all that he had done. But God said no. It would be David’s son who would build it. He had other important assignments for David, but building a beautiful temple wasn’t one of them. You see, the temple wasn’t about David; it was about God. And God’s sovereign plan would be fulfilled over time, after David’s life had ended. What God assigned David in his lifetime would lead to what God would assign Solomon in his lifetime. David had a race to run, and when he finished it, it wasn’t the finish line, it was a baton pass to Solomon, who, as he got to the end of his leg of the race, would then pass it to his son.

How is this important for us? Simply this: We are not God’s plan, we are a part of it. We are baton-passers! And while we might think that God owes us everything we want to do for him in this life, there is something far more important and much more satisfying that we should seek to do: in our leg of the race, run strongly and pass the baton well, because the Kingdom of God is built and advanced over the millennia.

Our culture has conditioned us to think it all must happen now; that we are the “be all to end all.” We are not. There is something far better: to be a part of what will be celebrated without end in the eternal kingdom. So as you think about what you want from God, or want to do for God, remember that the Father who holds you as the apple of his eye has called you to run your leg of the race in such a way that you can give the runner who will take the baton from you a “leg up” in his or her part of the race.

Ultimately, when we run strongly and pass the baton well, God wins—and that is our best victory!

Going Deeper With God: Begin with meditating on Paul’s words, “Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it.” (1 Corinthians 3:10) Then when you ask God for what you want and need, today, also ask him for how you can use your day to advance his eternal kingdom in the next generation.

What A Guy!

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

God will not likely give you all that he gave Solomon in the same amounts, but he desires to give you more wisdom, knowledge and impact than you have and more than you expect. So boldly ask for it, then ruthlessly align your life to nurture what the Lord provides.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 4:29-34

God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else… His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.

In the previous chapter, God told Solomon that he would grant him any wish, and Solomon wisely asked for wisdom to rule well. And we are told, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.” (1 Samuel 3:10)

As a result, the Lord not only granted Solomon’s wish, he promised to give him all the things lesser than human beings usually ask for instead: “I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.” (1 Samuel 3:12-13)

Now we see God’s promise for Solomon’s noble request played out in 1 Kings 4. The Lord opens his treasury of kingdom favors and begins to rain them down upon the king. He gets a mind like no other—an overflowing reservoir of brilliance; he gets fame—important people from around the world begin to seek him out; he gets the ability to shape the thoughts of mankind through song writing, scientific observation, and leadership philosophy. What a guy!

So where did all that come from? Solomon was just a primitive man in an ancient, albeit developing country. He didn’t go to college, He grew up under a flawed father whose kingly reign was consumed with warfare externally and conflict management internally. When did Solomon find the time and place to become so brilliant?

Or course, we know it came from the Lord. That is the best way to grow brilliant, powerful, famous and rich. And there is certainly nothing wrong with any of those, if they come through the blessings of God’s rich grace. But Solomon had to give effort to what God granted. We know from Ecclesiastes 1:13 that Solomon of himself, “I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens.” Perhaps it all came easy for him—we don’t really know. For sure, the good life that his father turned over to him didn’t hurt; it was conducive to intellectual growth. But for certain, Solomon leveraged what he had and who he was to produce what God had provided.

Maybe we will never be as comparatively wise and wealthy as Solomon—that’s not likely. But I do believe that God desires to loan us healthy measures of those same things—wisdom, knowledge and influence—if we humbly ask him and be passionately committed to nurturing them. Doubt what I am saying? Well, take wisdom for example. James 1:4 says that if you allow both the good and especially the bad in life to shape you by persevering through them, then “perseverance will finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. So then, if you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Of course down the road, Solomon stumbled because he didn’t nurture the internal character that made him so blessable, but for a time, he had it all. Again, God will not likely give you all that he gave Solomon in the same amounts, but he desires to give you more wisdom, knowledge and impact than you have and more than you expect.

So ask for it, then ruthlessly align your life to nurture what the Lord provides. Who knows, maybe people will begin to seek you out for your Solomon-like mind. It is possible, you know!

Going Deeper With God: Do you lack wisdom (or knowledge or influence)? Then ask…and get ready to apply yourself to nurture what God will give you.

What Would You Ask God For?

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Greater than all the good things we might want from this world, the best thing is something not of this world: a life that pleases God. And when we dedicate ourselves to offering up a life that makes the Lord happy, his promise is to bless us with a happy life. Really! Scripture promises, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 3: 5-9

That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne. Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

If you could ask God for anything, what would that be? Riches? Fame? Power? Those would certainly be tempting. At least they would for me. But there is something far better than wealth, celebrity and position, and in fact, without it, those are at best, short-lived, perhaps even squandered, and at worst, misused to our detriment.

I am talking about wisdom, of course. Wisdom is the ability to discern good from bad, the discipline to choose right from wrong, and the practice of putting truth into practice in every day life, in matters great and small. And wisdom at its most noble, most impacting and most enduring comes from God.

Solomon could have asked for anything else—wealth, power and fame—but he asked that God would grant him the wisdom to lead the people over whom God had placed him. Now presumably, since God asked, he would have given Solomon those things. But Solomon asked for wisdom instead, and the Lord was impressed with his request.

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. (1 Samuel 3:10)

Greater than all the good things we might want from this world, the best is something not of this world: To please God. For when we sincerely desire that which pleases him, God happily blesses us with his abundance as well:

So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Samuel 3:11-14)

Solomon could have asked for anything, he chose wisdom. Good choice! That is a pretty good pattern for us to follow. Ask for the things that please God, he may just give you the things that please you.

Going Deeper With God: What are you asking for in prayer? Make sure you are sincerely asking for the things that please him. He has said that when we “delight in him, he will give us our heart’s desires.” (Psalm 37:4)

Man Up!

ThanksLivingThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Gender is under assault in our culture: manhood is emasculated, femininity ridiculed or clownishly sexualized, and childhood obliterated. Christians need to stand against that demonic doctrine by offering living proof of the Creator’s brilliance in designing us male and female, and by giving our children the path to grow into biblical manhood or womanhood in loving, protecting, nurturing, stable homes where God’s Word is honored.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 2:1-4

When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. “I am about to go the way of all the earth. So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’”

Most of the commentaries you read on 1 Kings 2:2 skip over the line, “act like a man.” There are likely many reasons for ignoring it, but in the modern era where great energy is expended and demands are made to neutralize gender difference, my guess is one of those reasons is that pastors and theologians want to avoid any hint of political incorrectness.

But if God is unchanging—which I believe, and the Word of God is true—which I believe, and if scripture speaks with relevance, sensitivity, grace and fairness to every age and culture, including ours—which I believe, then what about this line? Did God through King David just tell the king-elect, Solomon, to “man up”? Yes he did! The Apostle Paul said similarly in 1 Corinthians 16:13,

Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong.

Now if you use a modern thought-for-thought translation of the Bible, like the NIV or the NLT, which I think are wonderful options for reading God’s Word, they leave out the phrase, “act like a man.” As an aside, that is why it is not a bad idea when you study a passage to compare translations, like the ESV or the HCSB, which are excellent word-for-word translations (see https://www.biblegateway.com as an excellent online option for side-by-side Bible translations). But the point I want to make is that in the Greek text, the word for man is there—it is andridzomahee, which most definitely refers to masculinity.

So does the Bible recognize gender differences? Yes—God made us male and female, and we are to celebrate God’s design. No matter what a our crazy culture insists on today (believe me, it will be different tomorrow, and worse!), God’s Word is unchanging, perfect in all its way, and will lead us to “prosper in all you do and wherever you go,” as David said to Solomon. God has built in to humanity differences that are existential. If you don’t believe me, just hang out with me while my little grandsons are at my home. Boys are very different, intrinsically, from the little girls my wife and I brought into this world.

But does the Bible promote male superiority? Not a chance. You will never find that in scripture, including here, and if you do, you are fundamentally misreading God’s Word—and that misreading is a grievous error. It just so happens that in the two instances I’ve quoted where men are told to “act like a man,” the conversations happen to be with men. If the speakers were talking to women, they would say, “now act like a woman.” Similarly in scripture, sometimes people that are being childish are called out for “acting like a child” or “acting like an infant.” Nothing more is meant to be read into the author’s words. Simply put, men are called to biblical manliness in the sense that they are to courageously and confidently pursue the mission that God has assigned them. That is what it means to “man up.”

So what were David and Paul saying to the male listeners standing before them at that moment? Simply this: the walk of faith to which you are called is not for the feint of heart, so be courageous; put on your big boy pants and do the right thing. If you do, God will bless you. If you don’t, you are going to get run over. If you won’t, then get out of the way.

We are at a time in our culture where maleness is being emasculated, femininity is either put down or clownishly sexualized and childhood is being obliterated. As Christians, we need to stand against that demonic doctrine by offering living proof of the Creator’s brilliance in designing us male and female and then giving us the path to grow into biblical manhood or womanhood through the process of childhood in loving, protecting, nurturing homes that honor God’s Word. We will be going against the grain if we live out this orthodoxy, but it will be the only way to save our kids and our culture. And it will take from us, male and female, what both David and Paul called forth:

Now man up!

Yes, man up, and put mature courage on display before a watching world!

Going Deeper With God: The best witness to God’s design in a culture that has “exchanged the glory of God” for caricatures of the divine design (Romans 1:23) is to display through your daily life God’s ideal for human beings. Today, with God’s help, being living proof of an all-wise Creator.

The Beauty of Being Unfriended

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

True friends are willing to get “unfriended.” You see, friends don’t let friends violate God’s law without saying something. An old Jewish proverbs says, “A friend is someone who warns you.” We desperately need a revival of those kinds of accountable relationships today, because many of our friends are being lured into dangerous living by the deceitfulness of sin—and while there are plenty of people to cheer them on,  few are willing to warn them. For the love of God, and for the right reasons, quit being afraid of being unfriend!

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Kings 1:5,-

About that time David’s son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, began boasting, “I will make myself king.” So he provided himself with chariots and charioteers and recruited fifty men to run in front of him… Adonijah took Joab son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest into his confidence, and they agreed to help him become king. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and David’s personal bodyguard refused to support Adonijah. Adonijah went to the Stone of Zoheleth near the spring of En-rogel, where he sacrificed sheep, cattle, and fattened calves. He invited all his brothers—the other sons of King David—and all the royal officials of Judah. But he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the king’s bodyguard or his brother Solomon.

Nathan, Benaiah and Solomon got unfriended! They were blackballed, excluded from the group, not invited to the party. And that was okay. In fact, they wore their unpopularity like a badge of honor. And it was just that—a badge of honor—because to go along with Adonijah’s plan would have been to bless what God was about to curse.

Adonijah was King David’s son. He was popular, had movie star looks, and the popular support of both high-ranking officials and run of the mill citizens.

Now Adonijah’s father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, “Why are you doing that?” Adonijah had been born next after Absalom, and he was very handsome. (1 Kings 1:6)

He was the obvious choice to replace the aging David. Worst of all, Adonijah believed his own press, and came up with a shameless scheme to promote himself. And he had plenty of cheerleaders to encourage him along the way.

Epic fail! In one of the biggest upsets in the history of elections, the newly self-minted “king” was immediately dethroned when David learned of his son’s rebellion and instead coronated the rightful replacement to the throne, Solomon. And the “unfirended” ones, Nathan, Benaiah and Solomon, were now looking pretty good, while those who had supported Adonijah—some pretty powerful people—were now looking pretty foolish. As a matter of fact, those who cheered him on in his sin now shared in his sin—an enduring lesson we ought to take to heart.

We worry too much about getting friends—and keeping them. Not that friends are unimportant, but in this day of social media where being “friended” is everything, we have begun to worship unthinkingly at the altar of popularity. We stress over what people might think of us, of being labeled as a hater, and Lord forbid, of being “unfriended.”

And all the while, many of our so-called friends are steering their lives right into a ditch, but we don’t say anything to warn them off. A person with whom we are connected posts photos of themselves engaged in questionable behavior, or uses vile language or proudly announces they are now in a lifestyle that has been declared sin in the immutable Word of God, and we say nothing. In fact, some who know better will actually fawn all over them with “I am so proud of you” or “you gotta be true to who you are,” which is, in reality, tacit approval of our friend’s sin.

Friends don’t let friends violate God’s law without saying something. An old Jewish proverb says, “A friend is someone who warns you.” We desperately need a revival of that kind of true friendship today, because many of our friends, cheered on by the crowd, are being lured into dangerous living by the deceitfulness of sin.

Now I am not promoting that you go out of your way to be a buzz-kill, but there is a point when you need to say something. You need to risk being unpopular, of being labeled, or being “unfriended.” I am not suggesting you do that publically. Watch your motives. Go in love—and in private. But for the love of God, be a friend.

True friends are willing to be “unfriended.”

Going Deeper With God: Ask the Lord to help you love enough to confront your friends lovingly when they are drifting into behavior that God cannot bless. Remember, a friend is someone who warns you.

Power Praying

Reflect:
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:

  1. 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)
  2. Elijah took a posture of humility. “He bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.” (I Kings 18:42)
  3. Elijah expected results. “Go and look toward the sea.” (I Kings 18:43, compare James 1:6-7)
  4. Elijah persisted. “Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back’” and look for rain. (I Kings 18:43)
  5. 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)
  6. Elijah’s praying produced results. “And there was a great rain.” (I Kings 18:45, compare with James 5:16.)
  7. 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

Reflect and Apply: Before you pray today, take a moment to reflect on I John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”