“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! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.” – James 5:17-18.
As Christians, we believe in the power of prayer, but we don’t always live like we fully realize what powerful praying can accomplish. James chooses to end his letter by talking about the power of prayer. He reminds his readers in James 5:16 that the “…earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” He illustrates that point by using the example of Elijah. Elijah prayed and it did not rain in Israel for three and a half years. “Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” (1 Kings 17:1)
One of the reasons that we often do not pray powerful prayers is that we do not really feel like powerful people. We fail to ask God to do the impossible because we figure that we are unworthy to make such a request. But either was Elijah. Notice that James 5:17 says, “Elijah was as human as we are.” Elijah was not some super saint that never had any problems. Yes, Elijah saw God do some amazing miracles through him. However, it is important to remember that Elijah was only human, he possessed our same limitations. He was human, just like us. Elijah prayed that it would not rain, and it did not rain for three and a half years. Elijah prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. The drought ended and the rain brought life and abundance back to the land. This is the product of prayer.
The Lord had told Elijah that he was about to send rain on the earth. However, God did not do so until Elijah had prayed. We experience this truth in our own lives. God declares His will and then waits for us to act in obedience to it. Instead of working around us, He will often wait for us to cooperate with Him by prayer first before the answer is given. Elijah needed to know that the rain was coming, but that did not excuse him from the earnest prayer that would release it.
There is incredible power and potential in prayer. The power of prayer isn’t in the words you utter. Nor is it about when or how you pray. Prayer can be defined as talking to God, but it is much more than that.
Through prayer, we invite the God of the universe into a situation and into our lives. Prayer changes things, but even more, prayer changes us. Through prayer, we have the opportunity to reach our full potential in Christ. The disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1) As we grow in our prayer life, we become more alive and more engaged with what God is doing. None of us are perfect at prayer, but as we take steps to grow spiritually in our prayer life, the impact is incredible.
- What are some of the key things this sermon series has taught you about prayer?
- The prayer of the righteous is powerfully effective, we should be motivated to pray. Agree or disagree and why?