Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
James 5:17 KJV
I know.. I know…have not published a message for a while.
In fact for those who are regular readers maybe you would appreciate the work that goes into producing the series of messages over the last few months. I can spend a whole day in study, a whole day writing and weeks in research. This time I thought to change the scene a little.
The post today wants to embrace a concept which the Catholic Church still abides to, that is respecting the living and dead saints but more than not the canonization of saints is more after their deaths. However the Bible talks of living saints. This concept is slowly creeping through after the documentation and slow implementation of Vatican II.
For some the old saints of the times before the reformation have largely been forgotten yet in my researching I have come across some very bright lights in great spiritual darkness. And they point us to the great intimacy they had with God.
So what made them saints?
I sense in all the saintly examples I have researched in is the dedication to prayer. And our reading approaches a window into the prayer life of Elijah. We are confronted by his humanity First! Because he had spectacular results of prayer.
What we are told is first Elijah was a man like us. This situates us with a possibility for humanity to connect in prayer for spectacular impact for a nation. So we need to accept that God chooses and uses men and humanity as a whole.
To like passions as we are…which means that he was at the mercy of the same struggles, weaknesses, fragility, unreliability as all of us. He sinned like us. So we are now placed on the same panoramic landscape.
And he prayed earnestly…this is what marks Elijah from us all.
Prayer…sigh. I say that because our inadequacy and weakness is in this area.. We are very ready to believe and declare. Even testify. Some of us have had the privilege of preaching. Yet whilst these are demanding activities we have a discipline that we seem to have difficulty with.
At the moment we set to pray our mind races. The issues that press us come rushing in. Then there are the notification sounds of our smartphone inviting us to a easier whim. Before we know it we are in a great struggle.
Then there are physical things that happen. My main enemy is feeling tired and drowsy.
Then the main enemy we perceive is silence itself. Causing us to come face to face with a myriad of sensations of our own emptiness or of our own weakness.
I tend to wait till all this turmoil subsides before a true peace and stillness comes.
When we read James 5 we see Elijah prayed twice. He prayed for it not to rain and then 3 years later he prayed for rain.
The first prayer had personal implications for him. He was calling for national impoverishment which would being famine and great hunger. In an age of where Christian TV passes appeals for funds here we see Elijah praying for all distribution of provision to end. Not a 21st century Christian practice is it?
Then we see Elijah taken to a place where he had to trust God to eat as His own prayer and prophecy had the potential to bring starvation to him too.
The ravens came after God brought him to Cherith. Morning, noon and night the ravens came. Have you ever thought that here are three miracles here?
The ravens are in themselves a miracle. But where did the meat come from? Surely this was heavenly meat!!!
And maybe the third miracle is also the timing of their coming. Elijah did not go hungry!
Then on Carmel when he challenges that the God who answers by fire is God. The prophets of Baal cut themselves and implored, begged, desperate attempts. Here we see not only Elijah build up His altar but put water on it! His faith was so great here! It came from the hours and hours with God at Cherith. And he prayed a simple covenantal prayer and fire fell licking up even the water!
There are occasions in our lives that we need fire but we have water surrounding us. And from Carmel he prayed 7 times and prevailed because he knew God would send rain. He had heard it in prayer. He saw the smallest cloud. In prayer we see what others don’t and hear what others don’t.
So when I meditate on this I see and wonder about the prayer to close heaven and the prayer to open heaven, and ask where did this efficacy come from?
I am persuaded that Elijah won and prevailed over the tendency to weaken over his weakness, give up instead of surrender, desist from endless speaking from the human whims. He recognise the source of His prevailing in prayer had to do with placing God as His objective of devotion. His prayer was not what he said but what he loved and lived.
New testament example is found in Acts 1 when a failing group of disciples obeyed and waited in a place of prayer and 10 days later the Holy Spirit descended on them. We see that they prevailed against their own selves to place Yeshua before all. Their waiting, their patience brought a divine response!
So we could say much more but suffice to say that the struggle to sainthood is won in our will. The enemy and the world can influence but we make the choices.
When we despise the tendency to accept our weakness as our disqualifier to see it qualifies we will break through the veil into an intimate place which our devotion to prayer in denying self will bring us into a place where opening and closing heaven is our objective but knowing Him intimately is.
Sainthood is not just focussing on the achievements but the character formed by which those achievements sprang forth into the physical.
Is it not true that signs follow those who believe? Are they following us or are we following them?
What will speak more will not be what I did but what I am. And that can only come by winning over myself, my weaknesses and failings, which are obstacles to my efficacy of prayer which forms character.