Elijah's Preparation For Prayer And Prayer
“IX-THE PRAYER ON MOUNT CARMEL
We have already had three remarkable instances, in Elijah’s history, of the efficacy of the fervent prayer of the righteous man. First, “He prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” Secondly, he prayed for the restoration of the widow’s son, and the child was restored to life. Thirdly, he prayed for the answer by fire to consume the sacrifice, and to decide the controversy with Baal and his priests. And now we have him praying again, and the heaven gives rain, and the land once more brings forth her fruit. Let us here learn the blessing of walking with God, and conversing with the Keeper of Israel by continual prayer.
1 Kings, 18:41-46.
The fire has borne its testimony; the waters now speak. In how many and various ways does our gracious God testify of Himself, that He is the living God of providence. This also, is done in answer to the prayer of Elijah.
Here is, I. The preparation for prayer; II. The prayer itself;
I. We are to imagine ourselves at the foot of Mount Carmel, in the plain below, where the prophets of Baal were slain. Those idolatrous priests have fallen by the hand of Elijah and his new followers, and their blood is mingled with the brook Kishon; and praise redounds to God, who is holy in all His ways, and who is glorified by the overthrow of His enemies, as well as by the hallelujahs of His friends.
Three and a half years had the heavens been shut up from yielding a drop of water to the thirsty land of Israel. What an appearance must the face of the country now have presented! All vegetation parched and burnt up; man and beast reduced to skeletons, and all flesh faded like the grass. They who had now become believers in God must have been filled with unusual terror. They had attained to the knowledge of Him amidst the thunders of His judgments; He had appeared as in flames of fire.
Even for the sake of these poor trembling sheep, our prophet was heartily desirous that his Lord and God should again show His goodness and loving-kindness. He longed earnestly, that for the glory of God and the people’s good the brazen skies should now dissolve in abundance of rain, and the season of famine and distress terminate. For this purpose it was necessary that Elijah should speak to God. The prayer of faith was to him what the staff was to Moses, with which he divided the Red Sea, and struck the water from the flinty rock.
II. When Elijah had wrestled awhile with God in the depth of self-abasement and poverty of spirit, in a manner which perhaps few of us know from experience-for all believers do not tread in a path of such a deep and thorough humiliation-he said unto his servant,, “Go up now,” that is, to the declivity of the mountain, “and look towards the sea!” He placed him, as it were, on the watch-tower, to look out and inform him when his prayer was beginning to be answered by a sign of rain becoming visible in the distant horizon. He came back, and said, “I see nothing.” But it is a matter of daily experience, that help does not appear at the first cry, nor is the harvest reaped the moment after the sowing time of prayer. This is certainly not agreeable to flesh and blood; but spiritually considered, it is very salutary. What would be the consequences, if God’s treasures were always open to us at our first knocking? Should we not then seem to be rulers and commanders in the city of God and forget our dependent condition? Should we not be in danger of making an idol out of our prayer, as the Israelites made of the brazen serpent, and think it is our prayer that effects all: that in it we possess a secret charm, a divine rod, or a legal claim upon the bounty of God? We should soon become self-sufficient. Therefore our gracious God does not always appear to hearken to the first cry, but lets us generally stand awhile at the door, so that once and again we are obliged to say, “I see nothing.” We ought to reflect a little, and become deeply conscious that we have , in reality, nothing to claim, but that all is unmerited favor. If we make our first approach to His footstool in the character of just persons, He keeps us back until we feel that we are poor sinners, unworthy petitioners; and are ready to say, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their Master’s table.” Such is His method.
O, it stimulated the prophet’s ardor-it animated him to wrestle the more earnestly with God-it made him still, less and less in his own eyes, and drew forth deeper and deeper sighs from his contrite soul. How would his fervor in prayer thus augment from one minute to another! To obtain a speedy hearing is much more agreeable to our natural feelings, but waiting long is far more beneficial for us. Those are the most blessed spots on the face of the earth where prayer is wont to be made with the greatest fervency and perseverance. During this process of persevering prayer our corrupt nature receives the most painful and deadly blows; the heart is then most thoroughly broken up, and prepared for the good seed of the word; the remains of self-love are then demolished the most effectually; the chambers of imagery are then most properly cleansed; the foundation of truth in the soul is laid deep, and when the answer comes at length, how great is the joy!”
-From Elijah by F. W. Krummacher (1796-1868) Published by Summit Books MI, USA Reprinted 1977 Pages 138-148