People of Prayer in the Bible: Elijah
We read in the Bible about people who prayed and wish that when we pray, God would hear and answer as God did for them. One of these people is Elijah. Elijah, according to James 5:17, “was a man subject to like passions as we are.” The Bible says that he was much like you and me in that his passions were the same as ours. This is an indication that he had faults like us, yet he still prayed and God answered. I do not believe that we can pray for all of the same things that Elijah did, but we can pray to the same God and get answers to our prayers.
1. He prayed against what he wanted and learned to trust in God.
In I Kings, we read about how Elijah tells Ahab that it will not rain but according to the Word of the Lord. Because of the famine that was caused by no rain, Elijah went and dwelt by a brook. In order to eat, he had to trust God to send ravens to feed him in the morning and evening. Later the brook dried up, and he had to trust God again when God told him to go to Jezebel’s hometown. Remember, Ahab and Jezebel wanted him dead because of the famine, so going to her hometown would take a lot of faith in God. Not only was he in Jezebel’s hometown, but also a poor widow had to provide for him. Why would someone like us pray for no rain? God told him to pray this way! This is not something that we like to pray. We usually pray for comfort and contentment rather than for circumstances that will make us to rely on God. Trusting God is one of the things that we pray for many times, but we sometimes don’t like the things that God brings into our lives to make us trust him more. Then when God brings these things into our life, we try to handle it without God’s help.
2. He prayed for something that was big.
After three and one half years of famine, Elijah met with Ahab and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. After the prophets of Baal tried to get Baal to answer their prayer, Elijah called down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice to God. After that, he killed the 450 prophets of Baal and then prayed seven more times which caused it to rain, which had not happened in three and a half years. Many times, we forget how big our God is. We think that they are things that He is incapable of doing. Our prayer life should challenge our faith in our God to do big things for us. We usually only ask God for things that WE think he is capable of doing. Remember our God made everything that we see, and we need to pray for bigger things.
3. He asked God to let him quit and die.
This may seem like an odd lesson in prayer. However, after doing the great miracle of calling fire down from heaven, Elijah asked God to just let him die because he was discouraged. I believe there are many Christians that get weary and discouraged from the trial of this life, so they ask God to take away all their problems. Usually the problems that we have are self-inflicted. The problems will not go away because we are the common denominator in all of these problems. Instead of answering Elijah’s prayer the way he wanted, God showed Elijah that He was still with him. He showed how big and powerful He was and that He was bigger than all of Elijah’s problems. He also showed him that he still had a job to do. Had God answered Elijah’s prayer, he would have died like everyone else. Instead, he got to go to heaven in a chariot of fire and a whirlwind. This is a big lesson that if God always answers our prayers the way that we want, we may miss out of some tremendous blessings in our life.
4. He taught others to pray to a big God.
At the end of Elijah’s life, he asked his servant Elisha what he wanted from God before departing to heaven. Elisha asked for a double portion of God’s power. Elijah says, “Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee.” Does our prayer life show others that they can ask God for hard things? This is a problem that we have as Christians. We do not ask God for hard things. Sometime we do not even ask Him for things that are easy for Him. How are Christians that are younger in the faith supposed to learn to have faith in God if we do not pass this on to them by our prayers? Elijah taught Elisha this principal by his faith in God. We should follow his example and do likewise.