- Perilous Times Will Come – First Edition
- Solid Preparation for an Uncertain Future-Part One
- Solid Preparations for an Uncertain Future-Part Two
- No Accidents in God’s Plan
- The Elijah Option
- On Becoming Children
- Government Amateur Hour
- How to Adapt to the Unthinkable
- Survival Preparations According to Scripture
- I Like the Depression
- Fasting as a Means to Spiritual Power
- Omnous Warnings
- Does Preparing for Perilous Times Demonstrate a Lack of Faith?
- Who Is That Woman and Why is She Screaming?
- Never Quit!
- Be Advised, and Be Wise!
- The Most Critical Element in Prayer
- Watchman, What of the Night?
- The Hour is Upon Us!
- Delivered from What?
- Open Doors for Overcomers
- What Difference Can One Person Make?
- Are You Ready for Legalized Persecution?
- Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth-Part One
- Thanksgiving in Perilous Times
- Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth-Part Two
- Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth-Part Three
- Christ Reigns in the Midst of His Enemies
- Biblical Standards and Divine Institutions
- Spiritual Warfare in Heavenly Places
- Beware of the Billionaire Preppers
- We Serve a God Who Hears
Perilous Times Primer #5
The Elijah Option
- We pray from insubordinate lives. Elijah was a man totally surrendered to the will of God. We like to keep most of our lives, decisions, and actions off limits to God. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psa 66:18).
- Most of our prayers violate the most fundamental principle of spiritual power. Paul tells us that “faith works through love” (Gal 5:6), and that whatever is done apart from love “profits me nothing” (1Co 13:3b). Yet, our prayers are mostly for ourselves—an extension of self-centered lives. Have you ever noticed that in the model prayer Jesus gave (Mat 6:9-13), the pronouns are all plural and inclusive? “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures [desires]” (Jam 4:3).
- When we pray, we do not pray in the realm of true faith. All too often, our praying is only expressing a wish on our part, not a confident request from the Father. “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Mat 21:22). “But he must ask in faith without any doubting … for that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord” (Jam 1:6-7).
- Perhaps one of our greatest limitations in prayer is that we speak before we listen to what our heavenly Father has to say to us in His Word and by His Spirit. “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (Jam 1:19). “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Joh 15:7).
1. The prayer for drought, 1Ki 17:1–7. Behind this prayer (see Jam 5:17 again), we can discover both a key to powerful praying, and the underlying prayer on which the three recorded prayers stand. First, what motivated Elijah to pray this specific request? The answer is that Elijah had learned to listen to the voice of God. Behind Elijah’s request was God’s command. He was familiar with the warning in Deu 28:15–23, that if Israel forsook God and His Word, they would be under His curse, and “The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze … The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust” (1Ki 17:24–25). Elijah simply prayed for the Word of God to be fulfilled.
Secondly, we need to ask what Elijah’s motive was. What did he hope to gain by this request? Here, I think we see the unrecorded prayer on which all his other prayers were based. Elijah was praying for divine discipline on the nation, which would lead to repentance and restoration. Like his fellow prophet of a later time, Elijah knew that only severe hardship could awaken the spiritual eyes of Israel. Under the lash of God’s scourge, at last the nation would cry out to God, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:12–13). Behind his prayer for drought, Elijah was praying for national revival. Perhaps this is the course that America will have to take to forsake our materialistic idolatry and turn to the God who made us great and prosperous.
2. The prayer for the widow’s son, 1Ki 17:8-24. As the story moves on, Elijah is instructed to go to Zarephath, to reside with a widow there. God demonstrates His power to provide plenty in the midst of poverty by multiplying the flour and oil that the widow had. He can do the same for you and me today! Then, apparent calamity strikes, and the widow’s only son dies. The widow reacts in her grief by saying, “Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?” (1Ki 17:18b). Elijah does not respond to this strange outburst, but takes the boy to his room, and prays for his life to be restored. God hears his prayer, and the boy is brought to his mother, who responds, “Now by this I know that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth” (1Ki 17:24).
Consider a question. What does this short vignette have to do with the rest of the story? I believe it is quite significant. The woman’s story is a miniature of Israel’s story. When Elijah came, she was preparing to die (1Ki 17:12). But the presence of the prophet and the miracle of God’s sustaining grace, gave her hope. The death of her son, however, put her spiritual condition and relationship to God in a personal light. It brought her to conviction regarding her own sin. She previously referred to the Lord as “the Lord your God” (1Ki 17:12), indicating a lack of personal faith. Her words, “What have I to do with you, O man of God?” (1Ki 17:18) are a plea for help, based on a close relationship, and so Jesus understood them in Mary’s request at His first miracle (Joh 2:4). After the boy is restored to life, she responds in faith, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth.” (1Ki 17:24) In time, the nation would respond in much the same way (1Ki 18:39), and revival would break out in the nation.
3. The prayer for rain, 1Ki 18:1-46. The contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal is one of the classic stories of the Bible. The record illustrates the vast difference between living faith and dead religion. Whereas the false prophets rely on their own efforts, fervency, and fanaticism, Elijah is a perfect portrait of simple faith. When he mocks them (1Ki 18:27), they cut themselves, as many in false religions do today around the world. But still there is no answer. Look at the poise of the prophet! No loud crying, no frantic raving (as we see in so many churches today). His prayer is marked by quiet faith.
His rebuilding of the altar (1Ki 18:31) with twelve stones (representing the tribes of Israel), at a time when the nation was divided, shows his refusal to acknowledge division among God’s people. His dowsing of the altar and sacrifice with water demonstrates a desire to show that what is impossible for man is possible for God Almighty (Mar 10:27). He times it at the hour of the evening sacrifice when the daily sacrifice looked to the cross of Jesus Christ. According to the Law of Moses, every day a lamb was to be sacrificed in the morning, and again every evening (Exo 29:38–46). Jesus was put on the cross at 9 a.m. (the third hour from 6 a.m., Mar 15:25) and died at 3 p.m. (the ninth hour, Mat 27:46–50). After the fire of God fell, the people shouted, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” (1Ki 18:39). This was the beginning of national revival. Elijah then slew the false prophets, followed by his prayer for rain (1Ki 18:41–46). Again, God demonstrates that He works through small instruments (Zec 4:6, Zec 4:10), in the form of a small cloud. Yet, Elijah sees with the eye of faith (2Co 5:7) and proclaims the coming storm. His ultimate prayer has been answered (national revival); therefore, his assurance that the disciplinary drought is over, and God’s blessings will fall again on the nation.
4. The underlying prayer for revival. As I indicated at the beginning of point one above, the implied prayer of Elijah was for the revival of his people. He prayed for the rain to stop that discipline might restore Israel to humility (see Deu 8:2). His prayer for the widow’s son to be restored was a foretaste of what God would do for His people (see Eph 5:14). And the prayer for rain to be restored demonstrated God’s sure blessings on those who return to Him in faith and surrender (see Heb 6:9–12).
Here is the challenge for believers living in today’s apostate time! What could one believer do who is unconditionally surrendered to God, if they were to take the promise of 2Ch 7:14 seriously? We are all beginning to learn that our elected representatives refuse to hear our voices. Why do we continue to waste time on them? Let us begin to lift up our voices to Almighty God, who has promised both to hear and answer our prayers—if we rightly approach Him (Psa 66:18; 1Pe 3:8–12). As James has reminded us (Jam 5:16b–17a) “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly …”