1 Kings 18:41-46
And Elijah said to Ahab, Get you up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.…
There are certain characteristics in Elijah's prayer which we must notice as we pass, because they should form part of all true prayer.
I. IT WAS BASED ON THE PROMISE OF GOD. God's promises are given, not to restrain, but to incite to prayer. They show the direction in which we may ask, and the extent to which we may expect an answer. They are the mould into which we may pour our fervid spirits without fear. They are the signed cheque, made payable to order, which we must endorse and present for payment. Though the Bible be crowded with golden promises from board to board, yet will they be inoperative until we turn them into prayer. We are content to pray, though we are as ignorant of the philosophy of the modus operandi of prayer, as we are of any natural law. We find it no dreamy reverie or sweet sentimentality, but a practical living force.
II. IT WAS DEFINITE. This is where so many prayers fail. They are shot like arrows into the air. They are like letters which require no answer, because they ask for nothing. They are like the firing by artillery in a mimic fight, when only gunpowder is employed. This is why they are so wanting in power and interest.
III. IT WAS EARNEST. "Elijah prayed earnestly." This is the testimony of the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle James. It was the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man, which availeth much.
IV. ELIJAH'S PRAYER WAS HUMBLE. "He cast himself down on the ground, and put his face between his knees." We scarcely recognize him, he seems to have lost his identity. Our only plea with God is the merit and blood of our great High Priest. It becomes us to be humble.
V. IT WAS FULL OF EXPECXTANT FAITH. "Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them: and ye shall have them." Faith is the indispensable condition of all true prayer. It is the gift of the Holy Ghost. It thrives by exercise. It grows strong by feeding on the promises: the Word of God is its natural food. It beat strongly in Elijah's heart.
VI. IT WAS VERY PERSEVERING. He said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." And he went up, and looked, and said, "There is nothing." How often have we sent the lad of eager desire to scan the horizon! — and how often has he returned with the answer, There is nothing! There is no tear of penitence in those hard eyes. There is no symptom of amendment in that wild life. There is no sign of deliverance in these sore perplexities. There is nothing. And because there is nothing when we have just begun to pray, we leave off praying. We leave the mountain brow. We do not know that God's answer is even then upon the way. Not so with Elijah. "And he said, Go again seven times." Not unfrequently our Father grants our prayer, and labels the answer for us; but He keeps it back, that we may be led on to a point of intensity, which shall bless our spirits for ever, and from which we shall never recede.
VII. AND THE PRAYER WAS ABUNDANTLY ANSWERED. For weeks and months before, the sun had been gathering up from lake and river, from sea and ocean, the drops of mist, drawing them as clouds in coronets of glory around himself; and now the gale was bearing them rapidly towards the thirsty land of Israel. Presently the lad, from his tower of observation, beheld on the horizon a tiny cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, scudding across the sky. No more was needed to convince an Oriental that rain was near. It was, and is, the certain precursor of a sudden hurricane of wind and rain. "More things are wrought by prayer than this world wots of." Why should not we learn and practise his secret? It is certainly within the reach of us all. Then we too might bring from heaven spiritual blessings, which should make the parched places of the church and the world rejoice and blossom as the rose.
(F. B. Meyer, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.