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Summary: PRAYER:- What are we praying for, personal success or the desert blossoming?

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James 5:16b-18 NLT

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! 18 Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again.

How many of us want to change things or see changes brought about? — Angela, aged eight “Dear God: This is my prayer. Could you please give my brother some brains. So far he doesn’t have any.” — Debbie, aged seven: “Dear God: Please send a new baby for Mummy. The new baby you sent last week cries too much.”

A story is told about a small Oklahoma town that had two churches and one distillery. Members of both churches complained that the distillery was giving the community a bad imagine. And to make matters worse the owner of the distillery was an out spoken atheist. He didn’t believe in God one bit. The church people had tried unsuccessfully for years to shut down the distillery. So finally they decided to hold a joint Saturday night prayer meeting. They were going to ask God to intervene and settle the matter.

The church folks gathered on Saturday night and there was a horrible thunderstorm raging outside and to the delight of the church members lightening hit that old brewery and it burned to the ground.

The next morning the sermons in both churches was on the power of prayer.

But the insurance adjusters promptly notified the distillery owner that they were not going to pay for the damages because the fire was an act of God and that was an exclusion in the policy.

The distillery owner was furious and he sued both churches claiming that they had conspired with God to destroy his business. But the churches denied that they had anything to do with the cause of the fire.

The presiding judge opened the trial with theses words: “ I find one thing in this cause most perplexing-we have a situation here where the plaintiff, an atheist is professing his belief in the power of prayer, and the defendants all faithful church members are denying the very same power.”

There are so many different stories in the scriptures, where people are desperate for change, I was not certain where to go this morning, hence the stories.

Moses, (Deuteronomy 9:25 NIV) ‘I lay prostrate before the LORD those forty days and forty nights because the LORD had said he would destroy you.’

Hannah, (1 Samuel 1:10) ‘In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.’ Desperate for change in her life, wept before the Lord and He heard her and spoke through his servant Eli

Daniel, (Daniel 6:11 NIV) ‘Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.’ Well he had no end of hairy moments, not the least prayer sessions when the decree not to pray had been issued the lion’s den.

Peter, he’s in prison: (Acts 12:5) ‘So Peter was kept in prison,

In each of these cases, there was desperation. In Daniel’s case it might not have seemed like it, but this was a serious time with great problems manifesting themselves. God’s people were in great danger if they were faithful to their God, it was desperate times! Yet, despite their desperate need, they were not rushing about trying to solve the problem.

Right now we see a lot of desperation regarding ‘climate change’. I’m actually sick of the stories every single day. Now you see the efforts being made. Everyone is convinced of the need to change, until the proposed wind farm is in their back garden. Prince Charles cancels his holiday in Switzerland to save the planet. China belches out more and more pollution and we buy more and more products from them because they can produce them cheaper!

I like the understatement of James 5:17, ‘Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, ...’ Well I suppose it is only an understatement when we look at our own lack of faith. He was certainly a man whom God used in a mighty way, but at the same time he was a man who was subject to the same fears and failures as we are. It took incredible faith to proclaim the drought. (1 Kings 17:1 NIV) ‘Now 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."’

The drought brought tremendous problems, their hose-pipe ban bit much harder than not being able to clean their camels! We see he was not the most favourite person in the kingdom. Yet this story is not really what I want to focus on. I want to go to the next verse. — 18 (NLT) ‘Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again.’

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