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Why Elijah's Prayer Was Answered

INTRODUCTION: According to James 5:16-18, Elijah received answers to his prayers concerning fire from heaven and the halting and renewing of rain despite being “a man subject to like passions as we are.” The next chapter of the Old Testament record (1 Kings 19) shows the extent of these “like passions.” In this chapter, Elijah runs from the threat of the wicked Jezebel and whines to God about wanting to die because he is the only one doing anything. Yet, without doubt, Elijah received mighty answers to his bold prayers. The text before us provides insight into why these audacious prayers were answered by God. We would do well to learn from Elijah’s example.

    1. Unbelieving Prayer Tends to be Nonspecific
      1. Lord, bless my family What exactly to you want God to do?
      2. Lord, be with me today He has already promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. What are you praying for?
    2. He Must Turn Our General Requests Into Specific Ones
      1. From Lord, bless my family to Lord, help Johnny understand his math problems today; Lord, help Suzy be a witness to her friend today; Lord, help my wife (husband) be obedient to You in the commitment she/he made last Sunday.
      2. Illustration: Incident in Israel: we did not have invitations to hand out to the people because of the time constraint. It needed to be typed in Hebrew and printed; we needed it by the next day; and Israel has nothing like Kinkos and such jobs usually take a week or two. So, we prayed. I asked one of the men to pray but he only prayed generally. I prayed again, but specifically for the request. That night we just came on someone who offered to type the invitation and we were able to get it printed the next evening.
  2. HE PUT GOD ON THE SPOT BEFORE MEN (1 Kings 18:41)
    1. Elijah Told the Wicked Ahab to Get Ready Because Rain Was on the Way
    2. Illustration: This trip to Israel was truly saturated with prayer. At one point, our lost bus driver lost his wallet. After he left, we prayed for its recovery. Then, we called to tell him that we had prayed for its recovery (knowing that we were putting God on the spot). He called a few minutes later to tell us that he had found the wallet.
    3. God Likes It When We have Enough Confidence in Him to Put Him on the Spot Before the World Consider David before Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45-47)
  3. HE MADE PRAYER HIS PRIORITY (1 Kings 18:42)
    1. While Ahab Ate and Drank, Elijah Went to Pray
    2. If We Would Pray, It Must Become a Priority
      1. Prayer is pure spiritual battle and it has the difficulties of war about it. Therefore, when we are not spiritually strong, prayer will be the most unpleasant of holy tasks for us.
      2. Prayer calls down the power of God and it is the most effective work of the believer. Therefore, it is the area where the devil will most fiercely battle with the Christian.
      3. There are so many hindrances to an effective prayer life, that we must make it a priority if it is to succeed.
      4. Example: Man on trip who came from very liberal background, growing in the Lord because of the priority he gave to prayer and time with God a number of years ago.
    1. Elijah Cast Himself to the Ground and Put His Face Between His Knees
    2. God Expects Us to be Earnest in our Prayers to Him (James 5:16-17; Colossians 4:12)
    3. Illustration: Prayer on the rooftop for the people of Israel. God broke my heart. How long has it been since the Lord has been able to break you heart? How cold are you to the things of God?
    1. Elijah Sent His Servant to Look Toward the Sea for any Evidence of Coming Rain
    2. Watch and pray (Colossians 4:2-4)
    3. We Must Do More than Pray; We Must Expect Our Prayers to be Answered. We Exercise Faith by Looking for the Answers to our Prayers.
    1. Elijah Continued to Pray even after the Sixth Negative Response
    2. The Friend and the Loaves (Luke 11:5-8)
    3. To Pray and Not Faint (Luke 18:1-7)
    4. We Lose Many Treasures Because We Stop Digging a Half-Inch from the Payload
    1. All the Servant Saw was a Little Cloud like a Mans Hand
    2. Yet This was Enough to Show Elijah that the Prayer was Answered
    3. Illustration: Our visit to the traditional site where Elijah called fire from heaven. Our viewing of a small cloud from the dormitory window that looked like a finger of a hand. The comment that perhaps it was a sign of rain. The absence of rain in this time of the year. The rain we had the next night and morning. The declaration of local people that it never rained this time of year. Proof that God will still send His rains of blessing in a time of spiritual drought if we will look to Him.
    4. Faith is Acting on the Promises of God Before we can See the Results. Note: Faith is something we exercise and grow in. We cannot go from little faith to great faith in one leap. We do not expect the gangly teen to play high school football without training and exercise. So, to claim great faith before you have exercised your little faith is nothing more than foolishness. Allow yourself to grow in faith. As you exercise the faith you have, God will increase your faith.

CONCLUSION: Elijah received the answer to his prayer (1 Kings 18:45). As a result, he also received a special empowering from the Lord (1 Kings 18:46). What needs to happen in your prayer life? Will you be obedient to the Lord?