Summary: Series on men and women’s prayers in the Bible that made a difference and how prayer truly is the difference maker in our lives. I borrowed the outlines from SermonCentral Pro Contributor Tim Byrd.
Elijah: Prayer for Priority
“We have a skunk in the basement,” shrieked the caller to the police dispatcher. “How can we get it out?” The Police Dispatcher told her to “Take some bread crumbs, and put down a trail from the basement out to the back yard. Then leave the cellar door open.” Sometime later the resident called back. “Did you get rid of it?” asked the dispatcher. “No,” replied the caller. “Now I have two skunks in there!”
Have you ever found yourself in more trouble than you started? Well, that was certainly the case here, wasn’t it? It’s also the case of the person that we are studying tonight. As we continue on in our series “Prayers that make a Difference” tonight, we will be looking at the prophet Elijah.
As we come to tonight’s story, it seems that Elijah faces a tremendous amount of trouble. Before we get into the prayer of this man, let me give you some background and names you should know Ahab is the king of Israel & Samaria probably reigned during the years of 874-853 BC. With Ahab as king, Israel reached its lowest point of spiritual decay. He was a horrible king even worse than his father Omri. 18:25 says, “Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all who were before.” Ahab’s evil consisted of promoting the worship of Baal in the nation of Israel. He turned the nation away from the true God. He was also married to Jezebel who was considered to be an evil woman of that day and time. Elijah a prophet of God. We don’t know much about his life before God called him. We do know that is name means “THE LORD IS GOD”. (Pretty good name.) He was sent by God to confront Baalism and to declare to Israel that the Lord was God and there was no other. (Pretty good message)
Elijah had been sent by God to be the messenger of bad news. God had sent Elijah to the northern kingdom of Israel. Now remember Ahab is the king, and his wife is Jezebel. They were not leaders that were following the ways of the Lord. In fact, they were doing just the opposite. They were leading the people of Israel to worship the other gods of Canaan, specifically Baal and Asherah. So, Elijah comes to announce an impending doom. Because of their disobedience, a drought was coming – no rain and no dew – until he said differently.
Because of this message it made Elijah a marked man. You might think that Ahab would straighten out his act. No, this is not the case. Instead Ahab had blamed and pursued Elijah. Instead of trying to get on Elijah’s good side, he decides that this was Elijah’s fault. And somewhere in his peculiar thinking, he believes that killing Elijah would end the problem. So Elijah is in trouble, because Ahab has put out an APB (All Points Bulletin) out on him. Elijah has become Israel’s most wanted fugitive. Therefore, Lord told Elijah to leave and hide by the Brook Cherith, east of the river Jordan. While there God took care of Elijah by providing Elijah with water to drink from the brook and having the Ravens bring him bread and meat to eat. Eventually the brook dried up but God still provided for Elijah. Read 1 Kings 17:7-16. So the whole time Elijah is on the run God is making sure that he is well rested and properly taken care of. Why? Because God knew that Elijah was fixing to face one of the biggest challenges of his life.
As we can see right away Elijah shouldn’t be on the run and he shouldn’t be in trouble. After all, Ahab had no one to blame but himself. He had followed the poor example of his father. He had married poorly. And he had been a poor spiritual leader for the people, misleading them into an evil idolatry. So through scripture we know that eventually God sends Elijah back to King Ahab and there is going to be a showdown between God’s man, Elijah and the wicked King Ahab, which leads us to our passage of scripture tonight.
Read 1 Kings 18:17-39. Tonight as we look at Elijah we are going to see a man that had a mighty faith in God and who believed in prayer. Tonight we will look at 4 things: the petition, the protest, the preparation and the plea.
I. The Petition.
Read verses 18-19. The severe, three-year drought had not convinced Ahab nor Israel of Baal’s powerlessness. Ahab, rather than seeing himself as responsible, blamed the prophet for the drought. You know it always seems that the wicked always blame the believers for the trouble in the world; they never think to blame their own sins. What we see is that the prophet Elijah was not afraid to meet King Ahab; nor was he afraid to tell the king the truth. Why was he not afraid? It’s because Elijah was commanded, by God, to engineer a direct confrontation.