7th August 2011

Prayer

“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. And he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
James 5:17-18 (NIV UK)

Do you sometimes feel that your prayers go no farther than the ceiling? Do you wonder whether God is even listening? The truth is, God hears and treasures every word of your prayers, and he answers them all in his perfect wisdom and his perfect love for you.

The apostle James wants us to know that our prayers are just as effective as any of the great heroes of faithfulness in the Bible—including Elijah.  Well, be honest, it is a little hard to believe that Elijah was really a human being just like us. He was the most renowned prophet in the Bible. God used him in some of greatest and most well-known miracles! He called down fire from heaven, multiplied oil and flour; he even raised the dead. How could our prayers possibly match those of a powerful man of God like Elijah?

The truth is, Elijah really was a man just like us. Remember, in between some of those astounding miracles Elijah could also be frustrated, lonely, depressed, angry, plagued with self-doubt and even wishing he were dead: “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life… He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors’” (1 Kings 19:3-4).  Pretty close to home, isn’t it? This episode in Elijah’s life ended on Mount Horeb, where God sent a wind, an earthquake and a fire. But God didn’t meet Elijah in any of those. God met him instead in a still, small, voice.

We often think that God is not with us unless we are doing so-called “great” things for God. We worry that God won’t hear our prayers unless they are strong enough, loud enough, convincing enough. But here’s what we need to remember: We are not alone. When we pray, it isn’t just us praying, it’s Jesus praying in us, with and for us. Read this passage in John 14:20 with me: Jesus said, “On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

We are never alone. Jesus is in us and we are in him and he is in the Father. In fact, as Paul tells us, Jesus is our life: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:4). He represents us before the Father. He substitutes for us before the Father, he is our all in all, our beginning and our end. Jesus takes our weak, puny and often misguided prayers, and redeems them, offering up his perfect prayers to God in our place and on our behalf. He never leaves nor forsakes us, as he said.

Elijah, you see, after all was a man just like us, and God heard his prayers, not because of some supposed righteousness of Elijah’s, but because God is in the business of redemption and salvation. He hears your prayers because Christ is in you and you are in Christ, and that does not depend on you. It’s something he did because he loves you. It isn’t about so-called great and powerful things, it’s about love, and God loves you with a love that will never end. You can count on it.

Prayer
Holy Father, how wonderful to know that you are in our prayers, making them acceptable, making them work. In our troubles you are with us, and in our joys you are with us. Help us always to remember that we are so close, that you are in us through Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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