Prayer That Gets Answered
A devotional by Dana McNeely
Sitting cross-legged on the floor with the other eight-year-olds, I watched as the Sunday School teacher placed cutout figures on the felt board. Menacing soldiers held spears at the ready. Pagan-looking priests surrounded an altar. A king and a queen, dressed in purple robes and golden crowns, carried rich gifts for an idol. A white-bearded man, out-of-place in worn shepherd’s garb, pointed an accusing finger at the king.
I loved that exciting story—Elijah fed by ravens, the widow and her son sustained by the never-ending flour and oil, the boy raised from the dead, the fire from heaven, and after three and a half years of drought—RAIN!
Elijah was as staunch and unflinching as any action-adventure hero. And when he prayed, God answered—in miraculous, awe-inspiring ways. I’m inspired by his dramatic spiritual victories, but I’m just an ordinary person—flawed, selfish, and often cranky. How can I expect my prayers to have the kind of impact Elijah’s did?
Comparing yourself to another person’s success is never helpful. Praying down fire from heaven isn’t God’s plan for me, but he’s made clear I should pray for family, friends, enemies, leaders, the poor, the sick, and others he brings to mind. I should ask the Lord to make me a better person and thank Him for everything.
Despite his heroic persona, James 1:5 tells us “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!”
Earnest Prayer and An Obedient Life
Notice that James says Elijah prayed “earnestly,” There was some quality to the manner of Elijah’s prayer that was especially sweet to God’s ear. The dictionary defines “earnest” as sincere and intense, steady, committed, wholehearted, fervent, deeply felt. Elijah demonstrated all these qualities in his life as well as his prayer.
While others worshiped idols, Elijah proclaimed himself the Lord’s man. He told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”
Elijah lived his life strictly by God’s revealed will. God said, “Go east and hide by Kerith Brook,” and Elijah went. “Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring.” No problem.
“Dwell with the widow woman in Zarephath.” Done.
When God told Elijah to show himself to Ahab, Elijah went. He didn’t shrink from that unpleasant duty, even though the king had been seeking him with evil intentions for three years. Elijah was the Lord’s servant. He was all in.
Prayer That Gets Answered
“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” – Kings 18:36, 37 (NLT)
· At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah ‘came near’ to the altar—though he was expecting an answer by fire! What faith in God’s power and protection!
· Elijah wasn’t afraid to remind Yahweh of His covenant with the nation of Israel, boldly addressing Him as “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, Israel.” For us today, a covenant relationship is the privilege of a believer to plead that relationship, to remind God that we are set apart for Him because of the blood of Jesus.
· Elijah’s first request was to glorify God: “Let it be known that you are God.” His second was that the people would know the Lord and come into a right relationship with Him.
The prayer on Mount Carmel reveals Elijah’s strong faith and his life’s purpose—to serve God, glorify his name, and bring people to Him. This is the kind of prayer that gets answered.
For further thought:
Do you ever feel you’ve made a mess of things and have no right to bail you out?
Here’s hope for you. The Bible says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” ~Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)
God wants to answer your prayers too. Don’t be afraid to seek Him!
Other posts about the prophet Elijah ~ Love in the Time of Drought, In the Waiting Room, A Widow, a Prophet, and Provision from God, An Intersection of Time and Eternity, and Ways to Handle Drought, and On the Mountaintop.
Inspired by the Bible story of Elijah and the widow’s son, Dana McNeely wondered why the prophet had come to stay with these two. Who were they? What was their life, before? And how did the boy change after dying, seeing the other world … and coming back?
Dana began research for her novel, “Rain,” which tells the story of the three-and-a-half-year drought from the boy’s perspective.
No stranger to drought, Dana lives in an Arizona oasis with her hubby the constant gardener, two good dogs, an antisocial cat, and migrating butterflies. She writes biblical fiction, cozy mysteries, and has written for magazines and newspapers. Her short story “Death in the Butterfly Garden” appears in SoWest: Killer Nights (2017).
Connect with Dana on Facebook, Twitter, or DanaMcNeely.com