Paul encouraged continual prayer. (1 Thess. 5:17) Some seem to think if we ask something from God and He doesn’t answer promptly, it must not have been His will and they cease praying. James observed, “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17-18) The common interpretation is that Elijah prayed one day and it stopped raining for 3.5 years; then he prayed again and it rained. Let’s look at the account James referenced, “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’ ” (1 Kings 17:1) “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.’ ” (1 Kings 18:1) “And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.’ So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. ‘Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked. ‘There is nothing there,’ he said. Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’ The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell king Ahab, “Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.” ‘ Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.” (1 Kings 18:41-45)
God told Elijah there would be a draught for years and he told king Ahab. Afterwards, Elijah was sent to various places to survive the drought. During the third year God told Elijah He was sending rain. We are not told how long Elijah prayed, or what constituted “earnest” prayer as James records. There were no results until the seventh prayer, when a cloud the size of a mans hand was seen over the sea. At this Elijah went and reported heavy rain to Ahab. Since Elijah prayed earnestly for rain to come, James says he prayed for drought as well. Is it possible that Elijah was praying for drought all the while God was providing for Him during the drought? Is it possible Elijah woke each morning praying, Lord, you said there will be drought, so stop the rain today?
Yeshua gave instruction, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up….And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1,7-8) When God reveals His will to us we should pray for it as long as the Spirit leads. Though revival has come at times, we must pray for it until the Lord returns. If we have no faith, we may as well stop praying, as words count for nothing, only faith.
James was right, Elijah was a man like us who prayed earnestly according to God’s will and his prayers were answered. Why does God want agreement among men with His will – because He is God. When we look to Yeshua, He encourages us to continue to pray according to God’s will and leading, until we are told to pray in another direction. My son was a prodigal and I was ready to pray till my last breath for his return, it only took about ten years. My friend’s daughter is a prodigal and we have only been praying five years for her return. Will you let faith arise and sustain prayer until the Lord comes?