THE PREPARATION OF THE PROPHET: Part Three
ELIJAH WAS A PRAYERFUL MAN
Just as it takes time to learn how to be faithful, it also takes time for us to learn to be prayerful. Perhaps that is why I think Elijah was an older man when he began his ministry. As I look back on my early life as a Christian, I recall that being busy seemed to be more important than anything else. Although we think that it is important to be in a hurry, we find throughout life that God is not. When we pray, we often expect immediate results and when they don’t happen, we give up not realizing that God has not. I recall the story of Daniel who prayed, and he prayed earnestly, and he got discouraged because he didn’t see an immediate answer. But later, while he was visited by an angel, he was told that from the very outset when he began to pray, God had answered his prayer but because of demonic activities present in the heaven’s, Michael the Arch-angel must battle with these forces in delivering to Daniel the answer that he sought.
As we grow in this matter of faith and the practice of prayer, we are encouraged when we see answers. God in His mercy, often helps us to see them. Those answers to prayer do not always come in ways that we expect. Some- times they do. As we grow in our understanding of God’s word and the ways, that he works, we grow in our ability to pray effectively. We are told in Scripture that when we pray in the will of God, the answer to our prayer is assured. Sometimes we think that we are praying in the will of God, but the truth is, we don’t always know what that is. Sometimes we may think that God could answer in several ways, but as we persevere, sometimes over many years, we look back and see certain stages that took place as our prayer was being answered.
Jim Elliott, a missionary to South America, once said that “prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His highest willingness”. So, first, we must realize that God wants us to pray. The second thing of which we should be reminded is that God wants to answer our prayer. Praying requires faith and faithfulness. Remember we mentioned previously, that faith and faithfulness go hand in hand: So, does this matter of prayer. It takes great faith to trust the invisible God to do what is right and to do what is best. As we study the life of Elijah, we find the man who learned how to trust God in the hardest of circumstances. We emphasize the fact that Elijah was a man of like passions and that sometimes as a man he may have acted impulsively with concern for his own life. Some have criticized Elijah because he fled when Jezebel threatened his life. Was he foolish by leaving or would he have been more foolish to stay around? That, of course, is an argument from silence but sometimes when we do not have an immediate answer we act out of logic and we have no evidence from God that Elijah did wrong. Men who never face any difficulty or who never had their life threatened as Elijah did, could easily criticize and say what Elijah should have done. But Elijah was a man of like passions, even though he is one of the mightiest prophets in the Bible, he still was a man, he was a faithful man, and as we examine his life, he was a prayerful man.
Praying requires honesty. What do I mean by that? As men, we pride ourselves on being manly and strong, and when we do that, we tend to be impulsive and operate on the human level. But when we are honest about our weaknesses, it is then that we understand our need for God. Sometimes it takes great trial and difficulties to realize that something other than ourselves is needed for anything to happen. G. Campbell Morgan gave an interesting definition of prayer. He says that it means “to wish forward”. That’s all. It’s the inner desire for God to work and that desire can be expressed by words but often it is done only through inward groaning’s which God understands. And when God answers our prayer, He knows how to answer it best. It is “according to his will, and according to what He thinks we best need”. It takes time to be a prayer warrior so if you tend to be in a hurry and want fast answers, take heart. God may be answering your prayer and down the road, you will understand why it was that it took so long. It takes time, and patience, and faith to trust in the invisible God, but one author, Francis Schaeffer by name, entitled one of his books “He is here, and He is not silent”. We must remember that. Some day in God’s time if we are faithful in our Chris-tian life, we may be a prayer warrior of which none of us is deserving of such a name.
Henry Jaeger’s is a graduate of Prairie Bible Institute, Three Hills, Alberta Canada. He has been in Christian ministry for over 60 years and has pastored three churches and has published over 25 books. His purpose in writing is to help people understand the Bible and see the principles of Scripture employed in their lives. He lives in Greenville, Michigan and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. He manages two online groups: Effective Evangelistic Resource Ministries and Christians Under Construction Resource Ministries.