Just A Man (Just A Minute #110)

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. (1 Kings 17:1)

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. (James 5:17)

If all we knew about Elijah came from the passages in 1 & 2 Kings we could easily come to some wrong conclusions. One of those would probably be that his power in prayer is way out of our reach.

Few prophets in the Bible come close to having as many recorded answers to prayer as this rough preacher from Gilead. His unusual level of confidence in God's will often expressed itself in persistent prayers . . . with miraculous results. At other times one prayer is all it took for a remarkable divine response.

Only once in these chapters does the Lord pull back the curtain on an embarrassing event in the prophet's life. Aren't we all a bit shocked to see Elijah's terror and depression at a woman's threats, especially after he singlehandedly shamed and eliminated hundreds of religious fanatics? At any rate, since he bounces back fairly quickly after the Lord's personal counseling session, we are tempted to dismiss it as just a freak moment of weakness.

If so, we are wrong.

Many centuries after Elijah was swooped up in the chariot of fire, God chose to shine the spotlight back on His bold prayer warrior. It almost seems like He wanted to make something clear. James was chosen for the job, and at the end of his epistle, he made some brief but important comments about Elijah.

Every serious believer will feel the spiritual jolt as James' words pull the rug of excuses out from under a feeble prayer life.

First, we find that Elijah's abrupt march into Ahab's presence and his devastating announcement were no mere whim or sudden outburst. They came after a season of earnest prayer. The rugged Tishbite had been stirred in prayer for months, maybe years, before being sent to face the treacherous king. With sadness he watched Ahab follow the example of idolatrous Jeroboam, and began to pray. His dismay grew deeper as he heard the news of the royal wedding with the wicked foreigner, Jezebel. So did his prayer. Finally, when the tsunami of false prophets began to enter the land of Israel, his pleas became incessant. “Jehovah God, how can You let this happen? Please do something!”
And He did.

But perhaps even more significant is how clearly the Holy Spirit insists that Elijah was just a weak and vulnerable sinner like me. The phrase, “a man subject to like passions” slams the door on any lame reason I might give for a powerless prayer life. God is saying, “Stop thinking Elijah was a superior person.”

He was just a man, just an ordinary man.

We are not weak in prayer because of inferior opportunities or limited access to God. Rather, we refuse to be earnest in prayer. We let ourselves be too easily distracted or postpone our intercession for a more comfortable moment. We are erratic, or quit altogether, when circumstances turn sour.

Shame on us! We live in special days . . . days that need prayer warriors like Elijah.

Dear Father, forgive me for making excuses. Drive me to my knees. Give me a hunger for spiritual power and don't let me be satisfied until You are glorified through answers to prayer. Amen.