"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." James 5:16b-18
First, to both people that probably read this blog (like my Mom...and maybe one friend that my Mom has badgered to death with the "you would really enjoy some of my son's writings" spiel), I want to apologize for being the least caring and least conscientious blogger in the history of the blogosphere. Sometimes I am good for a blog a week - sometimes it's a blog a month. Truth is, though, I confess to my stress level being around negative 42 when I am not popping them out every week. I will, however, try to do better - for both of my faithful readers.
Now, on to things somewhat more pressing....
I don't feel much like Elijah at all.
When I read what James wrote nearly 2,000 years ago, I almost pass out at the gall. James says (it seems to me rather flippantly - though I know it's not flippant because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit) that Elijah was a man just like us. More specifically, Elijah was a man just like me. I'm not one for overreaction (normally), but this literally has my head spinning because there is no part of me that thinks that me and Elijah are "just like" each other. Ok....we do have in common that we are human, and that we are males. Past that.......I'm still thinking........still thinking.....nope, nada.
So, after James drops this little gem on me the other morning, I decide to take a look at how me and Elijah might stack up....which required me to make a left in my Bible and move back a few centuries into the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures (aka The Old Testament). My travels took me to 1 Kings 17 where I am introduced to Elijah. Here is how we are introduced to Elijah:
"Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, 'As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."
Well, that is screaming negative numbers on the "me and Elijah are just alike" meter. I have never prayed with that kind of faith and authority in all my life. And even if I had, I probably wouldn't tell anyone - let alone announce it to the King of Israel like Elijah did. Maybe if I keep reading, I will find some other things in common.
Nope, it gets worse.
1. Elijah goes and lives by a brook where ravens feed him every day because God said so. I am nothing like that.
2. Elijah then gets commanded by God to have a widow from outside Israel provide for him. I am nothing like that either.
3. The widow's son dies, and Elijah prays and asks God to raise him back to life. I have never prayed anything so bold.
4. Elijah challenges more than 800 false prophets to meet him on Mount Carmel. I just gave the bully my lunch money.
5. Elijah prays a prayer to call fire down from heaven to show those false prophets whose God is God. I would need a diaper.
6. Elijah gets threatened right after that by a lady who says she is going to kill him - so he gets depressed and scared. What?
I have never prayed those kinds of prayers, never taken those kinds of steps of faith, never acted with such courage for the glory of God. I am nothing like Elijah....until he freaks out. He gets scared, depressed even - tells God he wants to die. He says he has had enough.
Man, I don't even think I have reacted like that - even in some of my most stressful times. What at first seemed too ridiculous to be true (that me and Elijah are alike) - well, it may not be that far fetched. Elijah is a man - just a man. His strength and his power come only from God.
Thus, James says - "Elijah was a man just like us." Just like us, he needed God for everything. Just like us, he had to deal with the struggle of life. Just like us, his strength was only a testimony to the grace of God in his life.
But James wants us to understand more about our similarity to Elijah than just identifying with his weaknesses. James says that Elijah prayed and the miraculous happened - so, since we are like Elijah, if we will pray with the same faith and earnestness then God can/will do the miraculous on our behalf. But Elijah's praying was not for his own benefit - it was for the glory of God, as ours must be.
I have no idea how to really pray like that...but the last few days have put in me a desire to learn. Hope it does for you too.