Summary: Learn the key to answered prayer
Praying Like Elijah
Rebuilding a Broken Church Culture Part 8
James 5:17-18 11-15-2015
Summary: Prayer is powerful and effective (not a contradiction with God’s sovereign plan), and powerful prayer is accessible to us because Elijah was subject to the same human weakness as we are But God responded to His prayers because 1) he was righteous, 2) he prayed earnestly, and 3) he prayed for what God wanted to do. Ask God to burden your heart with some great thing He wants to accomplish through your prayers.
James 5:12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned. 13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the weary person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
Man I hate it when this guy comes. Look at him, standing there in that ridiculous camel hair outfit with the leather belt – what a … weird-o. I have to listen to him, because his prophecies always come true, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good. Every single time it’s rebuke, judgment, death, destruction. Now here he is again. Just listen - $100 says his message isn’t going to be positive and encouraging.
“What do you got this time, Elijah? Spit it out.”
1 Kings 17:1 Elijah … 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.”
Oh great – a drought. Not one drip of rain or even dew for the next 3.5 years. Fantastic – thanks Elijah. Do you see what I mean about him?
Like I said – his prophecies always come true, although…I’m really not all that worried about this one. You see, Elijah is a prophet of Yahweh. But I think Yahweh might be a little out of his element on this one, because Baal is the god of rain. And we’ve got hundreds of loyal prophets of Baal – I think we’ll be fine.
Well, now what do you do if you were Elijah? The passage in 1 Kings doesn’t tell us, but James does.
James 5:17 Elijah… prayed earnestly that it would not rain
That was Elijah’s prayer request at prayer group the next Sunday: “My request is that it wouldn’t rain – since I just announced to the king that there will be a drought – since I just announced to the king that God said there will be a drought.”
In this closing section of the book James is teaching us how to restore a broken church culture. And most of what he has to say is about prayer - prayer for physical and spiritual restoration. It starts with praying for yourself in verse 13. Next, you need to be prayed for in verses 14-15. And then in verse 16 we pray for one another. We serve a God who likes to give His blessings in response to the intercession of His people.
Prayer is Powerful
So, pray for yourself, pray for others, ask others to pray for you – pray, pray, pray. And that is exactly what we see throughout the New Testament – pray at all times, be devoted to prayer, pray without ceasing, above all, always keep on praying for all the saints. So much emphasis on prayer. So why don’t we pray more than we do? Why do we struggle so much with prayer? I think the biggest reason is this: we don’t think it works. We just don’t really believe it does much of anything.
James anticipates that problem, so look what he says at the end of verse 16.