Daily Devotion | Day 300
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:17-18, NKJV).
Elijah is an interesting character in the Scriptures. As we noted in one of our earlier messages, Elijah is one of only two people in the Bible (the other being Enoch) who did not experience death. God took him to heaven alive (2 Kings 2:11). According to angel Gabriel’s prophecy, John the Baptist was to prepare the way of the Lord “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:13-17). When Jesus was transformed on the mountain, Elijah (and Moses) appeared and talked with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).
In today’s opening Bible passage, James presents Elijah to Christians as an example of effective prayer life. James had many options to choose from, but the Holy Spirit inspired him to focus on Elijah. Our purpose today is to understand that we all have been endowed by God with enormous potential, and that through a fervent prayer life, we can develop and unleash this potential for the glory of God and for the benefit of the Church, society and individuals (including ourselves).
James starts by telling us that Elijah was a man like us. This point is crucial. James is aware that Elijah was noted for astonishing miraculous deeds. James knows that people can easily distance themselves from Elijah with the objection, “Well, that was Elijah. He was special, but I am not. God gave him great power, but I don’t have that kind of power. So, don’t expect me to do anything close to what Elijah did.” To dispel this (false) belief, James puts it on the record that Elijah was a man like us.
After getting rid of this mental obstacle, he says that Elijah prayed fervently that there would be no rain in Israel and he prevailed. For three and a half years there was no rain in Israel. To put things in context, let’s hear from Elijah himself: “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). When the three and half years were over, Elijah prayed again and the heavens gave rain (1 Kings 18:41-45).
James’ point is that God has blessed each one of us with enormous potential to accomplish marvelous deeds. Elijah knew his potential and put it to work. His secret was fervent prayer. Through prayer we too can tap into our God-given potential and unleash it for His glory. What often gets in our way is that we’re happy to place others on a pedestal while we underestimate our own greatness. In most cases, it’s been drilled into our consciousness that we’re a bunch of miserable sinners and weaklings incapable of great feat.
From our mother’s womb we’re labeled as corrupt sinners who are under condemnation by default. Even when we grow up to believe in Christ, it doesn’t stop. We’re taught prayers, songs and rituals which reinforce the idea that we’re fundamentally weak and corrupt.
Consequently, we’ve come to believe (falsely) that extraordinary/miraculous deeds are beyond our reach. Where they occur, they’re reserved for a select few who are the exception to the norm. In so doing, we have unconsciously buried our potential to rise beyond the limitations of the flesh and enjoy what our good Father has graciously given us. If we’re going to walk with God, we need to adopt a worldview that is consistent with the Bible.
Elijah was a man like you. The Lord has endowed you with the ability to make the seemingly impossible, possible (Matthew 17:20). Believe God’s word and discover what can happen when you pray fervently.
Grace and peace be yours in Christ Jesus. Amen.
For further study: 1 Kings 18:20-40 and Acts 4:23-31