James, the younger brother of Jesus, wrote some great stuff on prayer. His prayer hero was Elijah the Old Testament prophet. "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit." (James 5)
Imagine a prophet who prays for a drought on a whole nation? What's more, God listens. That has to take some gutsy courage. Elijah gets given the name, Troubler of Israel for good reason. However, there was method to his madness. Elijah's job, as a national prophet was to call people away from idol worship back to trusting and worshipping Yahweh. The drought wasn't the cursing of a cruel prophet. It was meant to goad them away from worshipping the false God Baal. Once idolatry had been severely dealt with at Mount Carmel, Elijah prophesied rain, and it rained again.
What James doesn't mention is that when Elijah prophesied rain, the only sign that the drought would be broken was a small cloud on the horizon, as small as a man's fist. He crouched down on the ground and prayed with impudence - I love that word! It means persistent audacity. Elijah kept sending his servant back to see if the fist-cloud was growing. He prayed until the sky grew black with clouds and it began to rain. There is no greater metaphor for revival than rain in a drought. God revived Israel through Elijah's prophetic, persistent prayer.
James encourages us though Elijah's example in a few ways:
1. We are called to pray bold and persistent prayers into the drought situations of our lives and the lives of those we know. Lets pray for God to send his rain into those situations.
2. Our prayer has power beyond our personal situations. It has national implications.
We are not to pray only for blessing on a nation. We are also to pray for righteousness.
Let's pray for a turning from idolatry and a returning to God, in our Church, State and Nation today.
3. Even if we only see a glimpse of revival as small as a fistcloud, we are called to pray into being what we see prophetically. This can seem presumptuous, but church history tells us that the promise of revival was always accompanied by prophetic and persistent prayer. Paul charged Timothy, "in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare."1 Tim 1:18 Lets pray persistently with the promises that God has spoken over us individually, as a church and as a nation.
Just one more day. Let's make the most of it.