Summary: God acts when man pray. The asking is critical to the task at hand. We are not dealing with a reluctant Father, but a God who is willing to respond. Prayer accomplishes God’s will.
The Necessity of Prayer
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.
Elijah was a great prophet. He was probably the prophet that has experienced the most miracles in his life. Yet when James talked about him, he did not mention the many supernatural feats that Elijah has done. He talked about his praying.
Elijah was known as a man who prays. This is quite amazing. Even though Elijah has seen many miracles, he did not take for granted that God will always do His work without man having to pray. In fact, the Bible says he prays earnestly.
Sometimes, we wonder why the need to pray, when God can do His work so well. Since God is sovereign, do my prayer really matter all that much? Isn’t God going to do what He wants anyway? Most people believe that, but we do not to admit it. We feel that even if we do not pray, things will be fine. That is why most do not feel a need to pray.
Can my prayers actually change things? Can God’s will on earth be frustrated or not accomplished if I don’t pray? Does God need me to pray or does He just want me to pray?
We want to look at Elijah’s experience today, and understand why the Lord wants us to pray.
17Elijah…prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
We read in 1 Kings 18 the account when Elijah prayed for rain and it came.
The first truth we understand here is that God acts in response to our prayers.
This is the truth revealed to us in the Scriptures. This is God’s promise to us. He wants us to pray and He says He will listen and response.
And that was the case we see 1 Kings 17-18. Elijah prayed and rain came.
God acts when His people pray. God has chosen to work through people. Jesus chose 12 disciples to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth. God wants His will to be done, but He wants to do it through you. He wants the world to be saved and He calls you to be His ambassadors, to preach the Gospel. He wants people to have an abundant life - to have joy, hope and peace in life, and so He asks us to pray. When we pray, God acts.
God works in response to our prayer. God is sovereign and all-powerful. He can do what He wants, yet God has chosen to do things in response to our prayer.
James 4:2 “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” John Wesley says, "God does nothing on the earth save in answer to believing prayer."
If that is true, then we can afford to lose some sleep in order to pray. We can stop the things we are doing and spend time praying. Why, because God acts in response to our prayers.
DADDY, I CAN’T
A father and his young son were trimming the garden of their home. Right in the middle of the lawn there laid a big stone. The father tells the son, “Johnny, roll this stone out of the lawn.”
Little Johnny tried very, very hard to roll the stone out, but trying as much as he could, he did not manage to move it. After many tries, in despair the child cried out, “Dad, I can’t. I can’t roll it out!”
The father, who has been standing beside and watching, said, “Son, I saw that you have been trying very hard to move the stone. But you have forgotten one thing. If you do that, you will be able to succeed.”
The child asked, “What’s that?” With a smile, the father replied, “Can’t you see that I’m standing here next to you? I am willing and able to help you roll the stone, yet you did not ask me to give you a hand. Ask me and you will see what will happen.”
The child replied, “OK dad, help me roll the stone out!
Now, both father and child put their hands to work and together they rolled it out of the lawn in no time. And in delight, little Johnny cried out, “Daddy, we did it! We did it!”
That ASKING is critical to the success of the task at hand.
God asks us to pray, not because He does not know our needs and He needs us to inform Him. God wants us to understand our need of Him. It is only in this way – praying – that man understand he is weak and in need of God’s help.