Summary: James in teaching a lot on the subject of prayer, now brings up the great example of Elijah and some of his prayers and from which Christians are exhorted to pray with the fervency that Elijah prayed.
1. Open your bibles to James 5:17&18.
2. In a previous study we studied James 5:16. In James 5:16, James teaches that prayers can be effective and will avail much (that is have great force and provide benefits over and over again) when they are prayed with fervency and by those who are righteous.
3. After James 5:16 teaches those things about prayer, in verses 17&18, James brings up a couple of examples of Elijah to illustrate effective praying when done fervently and by a righteous man.
4. Let’s discuss the things that James says about Elijah.
I. FIRST, JAMES 5:17a, INFORMS CHRISTIANS THAT ELIJAH WAS A MAN JUST LIKE WE ARE.
1. Let’s read James 5:17a, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.”
(1) The KJV says, “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are.”
(2) James wants Christians to understand that Elijah possessed the same sorrows, joys, and other emotions that characterize human beings in every generation. Elijah was subject to the same human tendencies and had the same kind of weaknesses that are so common among us all.
2. Turn to 1 Kings 18:17&ff. From this section of scripture we will look at something that took place in life of Elijah that illustrate what James is saying about Elijah being like other human beings. We will learn that Elijah had courage, but he also had fears and human frailties and human weaknesses.
(1) In 1 Kings 18:17-40 Elijah challenged the 450 false prophets of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel to call upon their god and bring fire down from heaven and burn the sacrifice and the wood that they had made to their god [spelled with a little “g”].
(1) Let’s begin to read and make some brief comments as we read 1 Kings 18:17-40. “17 Then it happened, when Ahab [Ahab was the king of the 10 tribes of Israel that were guilty of worshipping idols.] saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20 So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. 24 Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.”
So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.” 25 Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” 26 So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. 27 And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” [Our Great God never sleeps.] 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. [The false prophets had such a warped mind!] 29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” 32 Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time; and he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35 So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.