“But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, Go and look out toward the sea. The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, I didn’t see anything. Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea. Then Elijah shouted, Hurry to Ahab and tell him, Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!” (1 Kings 18:42-44, NLT).
During this time of drought in our land we would do well to learn from the prophet Elijah how to effectively pray for rain.
“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:18-19, ESV).
Although the Apostle Paul tells us the when, how, who, and why of prayer in these two verses, we should consider the context in which he is giving this admonition.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV).
A superhero is a person who has extraordinary or superhuman powers and is dedicated to protecting the world from evil.
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not based on human thought. For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation from Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12, HCSB).
In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul refutes those who add or change the original message of the gospel he preached to them, particularly those who were teaching the Galatians to keep the requirements of the Mosaic law, like circumcision, to be justified before God.
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:26-28, NLT).
We often try to comfort someone who is suffering or grieving by quoting a phrase in vs. 28: “all things work together for good.” In the middle of tragic circumstances these words may provide little consolation to the one who is hurting. And the sentiment may even seem to trivialize one’s loss or grief (It’s almost like saying be happy because this bad thing happened to you.)
“Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him. when he drew near, He asked him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘I want to see!'” (Luke 18:40, HCSB).
We’re all familiar with the old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Well, that’s sort of what happens in this story.
“Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish: I called to the Lord in my distress, and He answered me” (Jonah 2:1-2, HCSB).
You probably have a quiet, peaceful place where you like to go to pray.
Jonah’s place wasn’t quiet or peaceful. He tried to run from God and ended up being thrown overboard from a ship into the ocean and swallowed by a large fish.
“And he answered them, ‘O faithless generations, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?” (Mark 9:20, ESV)
The story of Jesus healing a boy with an unclean spirit demonstrates the dilemma many Christians face when trying to live out their faith. They may find themselves become unbelieving believers!
Jesus finds some of his disciples arguing with some Jewish religious leaders and a crowd had gathered around them. A man in the crowd explains to Jesus that since childhood his son has been possessed by a demon that causes the boy to have seizures, convulsions, and not be able to talk.
Jesus’s disciples were unable to cast out the demon, so the father pleaded with Jesus to help the boy if He could.
“I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me… All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help… I am too distressed even to pray….Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious?” (Psalm 77:1-4,7-9, NLT)
Have you ever been so sick or so distressed or both that you don’t even have the will to pray?
Isn’t praying exactly what you should be doing if you are that sick or distressed?
“But Moses told the people, Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13-14, NLT)
After Pharaoh let the Israelites go, he changed his mind yet again and ordered the Egyptian army to pursue Israel. The Egyptian army caught up to the Israelites while they were camped along the shore of the Red Sea.
As the Egyptians approached, the Israelites began to grumble and complain that they regretted leaving the slavery of Egypt. This complaint was to be a common one among the Israelites over the next forty years.
But in one of the great affirmations of faith in the Bible, Moses declared in these verses his confidence that God would rescue the people of Israel from the Egyptians.
In order for God to rescue them, the Israelites needed not let the approaching Egyptian army distract them from focusing on God and His deliverance.
The psalmist also assured us that when we turn our attention to thanking and obeying God and not to worrying about impending trouble, then God will come to our rescue: “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory” (Psalm 50:14-15, NLT).
Make this your prayer in difficult times:
Don’t let my problems distract me from calling on you for help and deliverance.
I will listen for your voice and in calmness I will see your approaching deliverance and my fears will be assuaged.
Rescue me from my trouble and I will give you glory.