I've been looking through my old notes from past sermons, and prayerfully considering sharing my thoughts on those. I decided to share this, because it was something I needed to read and re-read today. These are my thoughts from a sermon from last December. It was on prayer. This is an area of my life that isn't structured as often as I'd like it to be. I often utter prayers throughout my day (which I know He still hears), but I don't spend time in complete solitude with my heart turned to Him.
Then Elijah told the people, “Enough of that—it’s my turn. Gather around.” And they gathered. He then put the altar back together for by now it was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes of Jacob, the same Jacob to whom God had said, “From now on your name is Israel.” He built the stones into the altar in honor of God. Then Elijah dug a fairly wide trench around the altar. He laid firewood on the altar, cut up the ox, put it on the wood, and said, “Fill four buckets with water and drench both the ox and the firewood.” Then he said, “Do it again,” and they did it. Then he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. The altar was drenched and the trench was filled with water.
When it was time for the sacrifice to be offered, Elijah the prophet came up and prayed, “O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I’m doing what I’m doing under your orders. Answer me, God; O answer me and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance.”
Immediately the fire of God fell and burned up the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt, and even the water in the trench.
All the people saw it happen and fell on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming, “God is the true God! God is the true God!”
Elijah told them, “Grab the Baal prophets! Don’t let one get away!”
They grabbed them. Elijah had them taken down to the Brook Kishon and they massacred the lot. -- 1 Kings 18:30-40 (The Message)
There was no doubt. When Elijah prayed, he believed. He KNEW without a doubt that God would answer. But, it seems to me that we often approach the throne uncertain of if He will answer or for that matter, even cares. It took Elijah showing the people (after their FAILED attempts at proving Baal's existence) that God is indeed God; that He answers prayers and responds to FAITH.
What can we learn from Elijah's prayer? He prepared a place -- for us, this is our hearts. We need to prepare our hearts for connecting with Him. It shows us to focus our attention on Him -- not our grocery list or cleaning plans for the day. He humbled himself before God and finally, Elijah was BOLD. He knew God would and could answer his prayer.
It has occurred to me that prayer is a growth process; a repetitive cycle of growth, if you will. Prayer begins with faith, faith grows with answered prayers, and then we pray with greater faith, and so on and so forth... We can see this example repeated throughout scripture. I can't help but think that's why we are instructed to seek first Him and His kingdom (Matthew 6:33), followed by the promise that "these things will be provided unto you."
So why do we pray? Well, it builds our faith and proves to us that God CAN! It also shows that we are conformed to His will for our life, showing dependence on Him, which is how He created us. And lastly, but certainly not least, it strengthens our relationship with Him.
What can you take away from Elijah's example? What will you do today to change your prayer life?