Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Praying Elijah-like Prayer

I've had the subject of prayer on my mind recently, so I started rereading Andrew Murray's classic, With Christ in the School of Prayer. If you've never read it, it's worth the time. I'm doing one chapter a day for thirty days, and it's already made me more intentional about my position when I'm praying, as well as the fervency of my prayers. 

To my surprise, the subject of prayer has come up repeatedly since I started on Murray's book. Sunday, we received a prayer card tucked inside the bulletin. I didn't even notice it until the pastor called attention to it. "What's the one thing you've been praying for that you would like to have a 100% guarantee that God would answer? The one thing you're most concerned about. Write that down on the prayer card and stick it in your Bible." 

Like most people, I have things that concern me deeply. I wrote my top concern on the card.

Our pastor went on to preach about Elijah's prayer. His sermon was so meaningful to me, that I'm sharing my notes.

He reminded us that Elijah was just a common, average man who prayed a huge prayer and it didn't rain for three and a half years. As James tells us, the "effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." (James 5:16) 

Elijah, he said, had a place to pray, (on the mountain) and a posture for prayer. He bowed down with his head between his knees. Elijah assumed a position of humility before God. I don't always prayed on my knees, but that's been my posture more often lately. Urgent prayer needs an urgently humble position.

Elijah also persevered in prayer. He sent his servant to look for a cloud seven times before he saw it. When there was no cloud, Elijah kept praying until there was one.

He had a plan of prayer. He had a specific prayer need (rain) and he didn't stop his prayers until the rain came. Finally, Elijah had a presupposition in prayer. He already knew what God intended to do. He kept praying until God did it.

The pastor invited us to come to the altar with our prayer needs, get on our knees and pray, then leave the cards there. The church staff would meet together to pray over the cards the next day. Nearly everyone in the worship center came forward. It was one of the sweetest moments in church I've ever experienced.

On my knees in the midst of hundreds of other people on their knees, I approached God with my need and left it with Him, along with my card. When I walked back to my seat, I wiped away tears with a firm certainty that God had heard my prayer and would deal with my need.

I've thought about that a lot since Sunday. The response made one thing clear. We all have an area of concern in desperate need of God's divine intervention. 

Why, then, do we not have answered prayer in proportion to our perceived need? Why, then, do we not see Elijah-style answered prayer?

One reason for unanswered prayer might be that we worship the not-so-great me instead of the Great I AM.

In this country, we depend (at least in part) upon ourselves and our ability to meet our own needs. It's when we recognize that we are powerless to meet our need, and that only God is big enough to do it, that we become desperate enough for Elijah-like prayer. 

This is not the case in some places in the world, where believers have neither the luxury nor the safety we have. They are much more desperate, pray with more determined fervor, and see many more dramatic answers to prayer.

Today, let's do what my pastor suggested. Think of that one need that transcends all others. The need of desperation. Write it down, date it, and get in your position of desperate humility and take it to the Lord. Stop trying to solve it yourself. Leave your need with the Lord and do the least American thing possible. 

Wait. Simply wait for God to move. 

Don't try to figure it out. Don't try to solve your problem. Don't doubt that God can handle it. Don't doubt that He will. Just wait.

I've prayed many prayers of desperation over the years. God's answered all of them. It hasn't always been the way I expected or the way I wanted, but they've all been answered in His way with what was best.

Are you burdened? Are you loaded down with worry and concern? Today, take those concerns and needs to the Lord in prayer and leave them with Him. He's big enough to handle all your troubles, and mine, and do what needs to be done.

"The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit." James 5:16-18 nasb

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: The Greenhouse: Where Fantasy Meets Reality
Here's the link to the prayer list: The Prayer List
#prayer #Elijah #unansweredprayer #disciple