“At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’”
[1 Kings 18:36-37]
As a young Christian I used to attend exciting prayers meetings at Cliff College, where we prayed that God would move among us in power. One of the prayers we often prayed was “Lord, send the fire,” and sing fervently, “God of Elijah send the fire.” Our God is a consuming fire and it is not wrong to pray a prayer like this, but as I searched the Scriptures I discovered that Elijah never asked God to send the fire. Elijah expected fire because his challenge to the prophets of Baal was, “…the God who answers by fire, He is God [verse 24]. God did answer to Elijah’s prayer and in response to his prayer God sent fire. I would like to suggest three reasons why Elijah’s prayer was so swiftly answered?
He prayed on the basis of his relationship with God. He had a clear conscience. He was a faithful servant of God who had acted in faith and done what the Lord had told him to do. What Elijah had done was not his own thinking or idea. Spurgeon said of this verse, “Go you to the mercy-seat with this as one of your arguments, ‘Lord, I have done according to thy word’.”
He prayed on the basis of God’s promise. Elijah highlights the character of God – He is a God who keeps His promises! God had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Israel and Elijah was reminding God of His covenant promise. A powerful way to pray is to remind God of His promises, and to claim His promises.
He prayed that God would be honoured. He desired that God would be known as God and as a result the people would repent and turn back to Him.
It is hardly surprising that God sent the fire when Elijah prayed. He had been faithful, prayed on the basis of what God had said, and desired God’s honour to be upheld.
Why do you think it was important that Elijah prayed out of a relationship of obedience and faithfulness to God?
Why is it important that we pray on the basis of the promises that God has given us?
Why is it always God’s honour and reputation that is most important when we pray?