“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 land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:17-18
Elijah was able to stop the rain with his prayers and later pray again for the rains to resume, remembered here in James. This was the Mount Carmel prayer battle with the 800 prophets of Baal and Asherah in I Kings 18. Right after this great faith victory, which ended with Elijah slaying all of the prophets, Jezebel sought Elijah’s life. At this point Elijah fled to the wilderness in fear and asked God to kill him. Where had his great faith gone? The same place it goes for any Christian who turns his eyes from God and onto himself. Elijah had a nature just like ours but was able to accomplish this miraculous event by praying in God’s will and with faith and James indicates we can do the same. Earlier in the book James makes clear that if we ask amiss from his will for our own purposes we will not receive anything from God (James 4:3) but if we walk close to the Father and ascertain His will our prayers can accomplish much.
I experienced the power of prayer a few years ago when I almost died of pneumonia. I was amazed at how many people came up to me after I recovered and told me they were praying for me. My home church even gave an unusual special prayer before the Sunday morning message due to the fact that my pastor had just visited me in the hospital and was told the dire straits I was in. At one point I was not expected to live but I pulled through thanks to these prayers and the grace of God.
Despite this experience I still have moments in the wilderness, like Elijah, were I look to myself to face down a problem instead of praying to God in faith. What a waste. Do you have a health problem, a family problem or concerned about the way the world is going? Then pray in faith! God does not promise to give us our desires in every case, and we should always pray that God’s will be done but I believe we miss many opportunities to utilize earnest prayer to accomplish God’s will in our life. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”. James 5:16