When was the last time you read the Old Testament? Not just skimmed over it and appreciated it from a historical perspective, but really sunk your teeth in or dug in your heels and sought revelation? I had always thought the OT was a dry chronology of ancient people, only vaguely applicable to my life. How wrong I have been. Over the last few weeks, I have blown away by the rich life lessons I've found in the OT.
One particular story that has had my attention for awhile involves Elijah. We all know the story of how Elijah built the altar in the contest with the prophets of Baal; he called down fire from God, which consumed the sacrifice. If you will read on to the next few verses, there's an equally amazing story that follows. It concerns the ending of a drought that had plagued the land for three-and-a-half years as a result of Elijah's dealings with King Ahab. (I'll probably talk about the ending of the drought in my next post, but for now, my focus is on how it started.)
Can you imagine you, yourself, praying to God and expecting to change the course of nature? (I will actually be doing this up until my wedding day - No rain, Lord, please!) That is exactly what Elijah did. In response to King Ahab's hardness of heart, he prayed that drought/famine would overtake the land.
For 3.5 years, not a drop fell.
Okay, so let's be real. All of these sorts of "miraculous" stories in the Bible seem super amazing and we marvel at them. We think, "That was them. They had some special gifting. Things don't work like that now." But, should these stories really be so surprising to us? After reading James 5:17, I think not.
Here's what it says: "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years."
WOW. Right? I have had that scripture in the back of my mind for about 18 months now, and it is finally starting to sink in. Elijah didn't have some special line to God. Of course, he was a prophet, but like James said, "He was a man just like us." In the next sentence, James explains how Elijah got such amazing results: "He prayed earnestly..." It doesn't say he had such powerful results because "He was a prophet" or because God pointed his divine scepter at him and granted him special power or because it was the year 214. It was simply because, “He prayed earnestly.”
Some days I breathe only a few sentences to God before closing my eyes to sleep. How tragic.
How much power could we see in our daily lives, how much could we accomplish in the Kingdom of God and the lives of others, if only we would follow in the footsteps of Elijah and earnestly pray? I want to find out.
Oh, how I want to be a woman of earnest prayers. God help me.