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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

A Word from James: Earnestly

by Marilynn Chadwick

Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly... (James 5:17 NIV)

Elijah prayed earnestly. The phrase "prayed earnestly” comes from two words meaning "to pray" and "prayer." Elijah "prayed with prayer." This unusual expression indicates intensity. Elijah prayed hard. He got results. When Elijah prayed, things happened.

Elijah prayed that God would give a wake-up call to the unfaithful, Baal-worshiping children of Israel by withholding rain from their land. God answered Elijah's prayer and it didn't rain for three and a half years! Then, he had a show-down with four hundred demonized prophets of Baal in what has been called the “Super Bowl of faith.” Afterwards, Elijah prayed that God would restore rain to the land, and it began to pour!

The stories of Elijah's prayer exploits are some of my favorites—he’s become one of my mentors in prayer. James reminds us that Elijah was ordinary. But his prayers were anything but. “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:17).

What were the “Elijah factors” that gave super-power to his prayers? For starters, whenever Elijah heard the “word of the Lord," he obeyed. Even if that meant hiding in a brook and receiving his food from ravens (1 Kings 17:2-6).

What’s more, he had great courage to stand alone against the prophets of Baal and the wayward Israelites (1 Kings 18:20-40). And when Elijah fell into despair after hearing of Queen Jezebel's murderous threats, he sought the Lord (1 Kings 19).

When Elijah broke, he knew where to run. He ran to God.

In short, Elijah was a powerful man of prayer because he heard and obeyed the voice of the Lord. This kind of intimacy with God is available to each of us. Elijah was human just like us. But he prayed earnestly. Will we?

Lord, forgive my limp and shallow prayers. Sometimes I pray like I don't expect an answer and wouldn't recognize one if it hit me between the eyes. Your Word has jolted me into an audacious prayer life. Help me to watch and listen for your voice. Elijah prayed big and bold. I commit today to listen to your Word like Elijah did. Make me quick to obey your voice…no matter what obstacles I may face!

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