Keep the Rain Away
Verses 17-18 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
Yesterday we talked about how the prayers of the righteous do much. James wanted to make sure they understood just how effective prayers of the righteous could be by showing an example from the Old Testament.
Elijah was a powerful figure in the life of an Israelite. These Jewish believers would not have just been reminded of the time given as an example but knew all of the story of Elijah and knew how he stood when he had to stand alone. It was easy for the Jewish people to put the prophet on a pedestal and revere him in ways that only God should be worshipped. But James makes it clear that Elijah was human just as we are.
Of all the stories James could have told about Elijah and prayer he chose this one. Why? Remember, James was trying to point out that a person who is righteous – has a right standing with God – can pray and God will hear. This story about Elijah is found in 1 Kings 17:1 and 1 Kings 18:1-2, 41-46. Elijah wasn’t a perfect man. He failed at times but he never was allowed to stay that way. God would shine His light into the darkness that Elijah was dealing with. God doesn’t leave us in the darkness either, although there are times when we wallow there instead of responding to the light of His holiness.
Elijah didn’t pray just one time for the rain to start and then wait until the time was right to pray for it to begin again. He remained in touch with God throughout this time and waited for God to say it was time to pray for the rain to start again. During this time he let God minister to him and then he was sent by God to minister to a widow and her son. After 3 years it is time for him to go back and address the wicked king, Ahab. When he finds Obadiah, who was an official in the king’s palace, to go and tell the king that he was there, Obadiah fears for his life because he is thinking that Elijah will disappear. But Elijah tells him not to fear because, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.” (1 Kings 18:15)
The Hebrew words translated ‘whom I serve’ are better translated as ‘in whose presence I stand’ and were the same words used by Moses when he talked about his time on the mountain with God. Elijah wasn’t just saying that he served God but that he was in open relationship with God. It is this understanding of the idea of a righteous man that James was pointing out through Elijah. To be righteous and have our prayers answered, we must be living as if in the very presence of God.
Making It Personal
Have you ever prayed for something for a long time? What was the results of those prayers? Can you say that you abide in the presence of God Almighty?
Making It Personal Kids
Have you ever prayed that it would rain? Did it rain? Why did God answer Elijah’s prayers?
Father, thank You for listening to our prayers and answering them. Help us continue to live in Your presence so that we know Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.