Praying Like Elijah #16

Thursday, March 5, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

The “dispensations,” or sets of divine revelation that mankind is to believe and obey during precise time periods, change throughout time. Prayers are spoken according to God’s instructions specific to that time, so the contents of believers’ prayers vary from Genesis through Revelation. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (verse 16). There is much profit in prayer today, provided that we pray in accordance with the “Dispensation of Grace” (Ephesians 3:2—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon).

Prayer reminds us of the Scriptures applicable to the current dispensation and our life circumstances: if we pray in accordance with a former dispensation (such as God’s Word to Israel), prayer will not impact our Christian lives as God intended, thus resulting in more unbelief, disappointment, and confusion.

Two of the best prayer verses for this dispensation is what our Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6,7: “[6] Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [7] And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” What great memory verses!

We should “pray without ceasing” and “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:17,18). Regardless of circumstances, we pray “in every thing,” and we are thankful “in every thing.” Remembering God’s Word to us about those circumstances will give us His wisdom and peace in those circumstances. We need to constantly think about God’s Word to us, whether about marriage, employment, schooling, parenting, finances, illness, or whatever—Paul’s epistles say something about all of these life topics. Start by reading Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3.

Beloved, when we pray the Pauline way, we will guard ourselves from frustration and bewilderment, and our prayers will “avail much”….

Praying Like Elijah #15

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

Many precious Christians all around the world, suffering various difficult circumstances, are fervently praying for God to remove those tribulations (remember Paul?). Yet, the troubles remain (remember Paul?). They wonder, “Does God love me? Do I have enough faith? Is there unconfessed sin hindering my prayers? Am I even really saved?” Such disappointment, misery, and confusion!

Beloved, remember, prayer is talking to God in light of His Word to you. The most basic fallacy in modern-day prayer-practice and prayer-preaching is to grab God’s Word to Israel, and make it apply to us. Whether it is “the Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13), or “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do” (John 14:14), or “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19), none of these verses apply to us. God the Holy Spirit never gave us the Church the Body of Christ any such verses in Romans through Philemon. In fact, as we already saw in Paul’s epistles (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), we find God saying “No” three times to Paul’s prayer for deliverance.

Surely, God’s dealings with Israel and God’s dealings are different. In Israel’s program, calamity was a sign of disobedience and God’s punishment of it. However, when we come to this the Dispensation of Grace, problems are not something to flee. God is not mad at us; we are forgiven and accepted in Christ. We suffer trouble in this fallen creation, but we need to always be mindful that God promises to get us through our trying times, not take us out of them. In difficult circumstances, we need to repeat to Him in prayer what He told us in Scripture….

Praying Like Elijah #14

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

It is no secret that there is much suffering in this fallen world: where there is sin, sorrow is sure to follow. But, because of prayer, there does not have to be misery. My heart truly goes out to people who are suffering and hurting, and who are confused about unanswered prayers for deliverance. It is with the utmost care that we remind them to look at their problems the way the Apostle Paul finally learned to look at his “thorn in the flesh.”

Initially, Paul, assuming it was harmful, begged the Lord three times for deliverance. Verse 9 of 2 Corinthians chapter 12 says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” In other words, “Paul, I have something far better in mind for you than deliverance! You are weak but I am strong! I have already given you enough grace, an inner capacity, to handle your problem!” What was Paul’s reply? “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul finally saw the value in times of suffering. Jesus Christ’s power would bear him up. Rather than the troubles destroying him, He would use them to Paul’s advantage.

The Berean Bible student will notice, “He said unto me…,” a direct reference to God’s spoken Word. We have to see what God says to us. We find God’s Word to us about suffering in other passages such as Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:18-28, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. There are so many dear precious saints praying to escape their problems, when Jesus Christ has already said He wants to live in them in the midst of those difficulties!

Let us now see how we are to pray in difficult circumstances….

Praying Like Elijah #13

Monday, March 2, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

The ascended, risen, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ revealed the mystery to the Apostle Paul over the course of nearly 35 years. This information was completely different from what God had revealed to the Old Testament prophets, the writings Paul had studied intensely when he was lost (see Romans 16:25,26, Ephesians 3:1-12, and Colossians 1:23-27). Now that God had ushered in a new dispensation, Paul had to think differently about God. He had to quit praying according to the old divine revelation, and pray according to the new divine revelation.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, after talking about the various visions and revelations of Jesus Christ he had, Paul discusses how he was humbled: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.”

“We know not what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26b). Since there was more revelation from God coming, Paul was, in 2 Corinthians 12:8, not praying according to the new program. He was still thinking of God’s promise to deliver Israel from problems. Verse 9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” There, in that awful, vexing circumstance, Paul learned one thing—God had given the grace, the capacity, to endure it. Rather than deliverance, Jesus Christ promised inner strength, inner fortification, inner power, to bear the trouble.

Paul had to readjust his view of problems and prayer, and we will let him tell us how we should go about doing it….

Praying Like Elijah #12

Sunday, March 1, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

“Rabbi Shaul” was one of the most educated Mosaic scholars of his day. From a very early age, he had studied the Mosaic Law. Learning those Old Testament scrolls, he came to understand that whenever his people Israel suffered any sickness/plague, war, calamity, et cetera, it was divine punishment. He noted how Israel’s conversion and prayer resulted in God removing the problem.

Once “Rabbi Shaul” became “Apostle Paul,” he was intensely persecuted. To Gentiles and Jews alike, he was a renegade Jew, a peculiar fellow. Formerly a religious leader who could not stand to even hear the name “Jesus of Nazareth,” now a “religious leader” who could not stand to be silent about the name of Jesus Christ! Now that he was not preaching Judaism, Israel was after him! Now that he was preaching an illegal religion, Rome was after him! Now that he was not preaching blasphemy, Satan was after him!

We read in 2 Corinthians chapter 12: “[6] For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. [7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.”

Satan afflicted Paul with something that constantly irritated him (there is Scriptural evidence that it was likely ophthalmic in nature). Three times Paul prayed to the Lord for deliverance, and Paul was shocked to learn the Lord’s answer….

Praying Like Elijah #11

Saturday, February 28, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

All too often today prayer is reduced to mere posture and procedure—kneel at the railing, or enter your prayer closet, cross your heart, close your eyes, bow your head, use prayer beads or prayer wheels, and recite what you have read in a prayer book. Dear friends, prayer at its fundamental level is none of those things. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Are you going to stay kneeling literally every moment? Should your eyes be closed every second? Is your head to be bowed 24 hours a day, seven days a week? If prayer is kneeling, closing eyes, and bowing heads, then yes, yes, and yes. The truth is, prayer in the Bible is not some formalistic practice, so no, no, and no!

When barren Hannah prayed to the LORD, she told the priest Eli, “I have poured out my soul before the LORD(1 Samuel 1:15). David wrote to Israel, “Ye people, pour out your heart before him (Psalm 62:8). Romans 10:10 says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” The “heart,” our soul, our innermost being, is that which we use to believe God’s Word. Prayer is speaking to God what is in our hearts, and if we have studied and believed our Bible, then we will be speaking to God what He told us. Again, this is consistent view of prayer, regardless of dispensation.

Brethren, we are to be constantly reminding ourselves of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Meditate on these things” (1 Timothy 4:15). Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7). Day in and day out, we should be thinking about God’s Word to us, reminding ourselves of what He said to us. This is Pauline prayer. This is answered prayer….

Our special edition 125th Bible Q&A: “Should we observe the Lord’s Supper?

Praying Like Elijah #10

Friday, February 27, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

Romans 1:8-12, 1 Corinthians 1:4-8, Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:3-11, Colossians 1:3-12, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:3-5, and Philemon 4-6 are all instances of how the Apostle Paul prayed for other Christians. The Berean Bible student will study and consider them, and adjust his or her prayer life accordingly.

Firstly, Paul thanked God for other believers. He constantly reminded himself that he was not alone in the Christian ambassadorship. Other people were in the world also suffering for Jesus Christ’s sake, but God’s grace was working in them and so it would work in him in spite of the opposition. He was continually mindful that, as an apostle, God had  commissioned him to take care of the Church the Body of Christ. The grace saints in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica, and in other cities and regions, they were his fruit. It was important that he thus constantly remind himself of God’s Word to him and them, that he see that God’s will for him be accomplished regarding them!

Secondly, Paul prayed that these Christians grow spiritually. He did not want them to be “babes in Christ,” but fully mature sons of God! The Apostle wanted them to “come unto the knowledge of truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He wanted them to understand the doctrines of grace as he had come to know them from Jesus Christ Himself. He prayed that God’s grace would work mightily in them to produce the life of Jesus Christ in and through them! He wanted them to understand God’s power, that the power of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, would work in them when they would believe those grace doctrines.

Let us study Pauline prayer in greater detail….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?