This following post is adapted from Ps Phil's Pringle's message on Sun 13th August, at the C3 Oxford Falls 10am service. Watch the service here.
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:16-18 (NKJV)
The power of prayer should never be underestimated. Like breathing, prayer is essential to living a fruitful life. When we make prayer a consistent habit we find we don’t have time for other less desirable habits. These verses in James reflect how prayer fills any gap of our inadequacies. Elijah’s prayers broke a 3.5-year drought. Our fervent prayers can do likewise in our lives. We cannot pray without something happening.
Elijah was the most powerful prophet. And he was a man of prayer. Yet as James states, he was a man with our nature. We too can pray mighty drought-breaking prayers. There are prayers that stop things occurring and others that release things. There is an invisible spiritual world all around us. Prayer enters this invisible world causing its light to shine into ours. We will never be greater than our prayer life. We cannot be powerful if we don’t connect with the power source: God
Gifts get activated through prayer. We invoke God into all we do when we pray. The only way we can truly draw near to God is through prayer. Prayer strengthens our relationship with God. If you’re suffering at present, reach out to the Lord in prayer.
We’re a global church of Christians who are dependent upon God, not our pastors. This dependency on God comes as a result of prayer. Prayer is both individual but there’s also power in collective prayer. Be praying in your Connect Groups and come along to the Tuesday night Prayer Meeting. God is looking for men and women who pray. Great movements in the history of the church have occurred as a result of men and women who pray.
God’s greatest strategy is the ‘seed process’ but it’s a process that takes time. Prayer plants and waters the seed.
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
Israel was experiencing a severe drought. Elijah challenged the 400 prophets of Baal in a ‘fire’ contest (1 Kings 18:16-40) to determine whose deity was really in charge of Israel. Elijah was full of faith and knowing they would fail, encouraged the 400 to call down their god to burn the altar that had been erected for the contest. After about eight hours of crying out to their god, Elijah called a halt, rebuilt the altar, and repeatedly soaked it in water. Remember, they were experiencing drought so water was a most precious commodity. [When you need more of something in your life pour it out generously]
Elijah prayed by firstly acknowledging God as God of Israel and secondly, admitting he was merely his servant. And then he boldly prayed God would answer his prayer to demonstrate He was indeed God of Israel by setting the altar ablaze. Immediately, heaven opened and fire shot down onto the altar and consumed it.
The prophets of Baal all bowed to Jezebel. On hearing her prophets had been humiliated and slain she put a contract out for Elijah to be killed. He was terrified and fled, soon after leaving Elisha, his servant behind. We can only do the Christian life together. Often, men especially, when circumstances go against us, we retreat into our caves by ourselves (like Elijah did). This isn’t healthy nor the best approach. God is a communal being and we’re made in His image and can only achieve our full potential in community. But God didn’t give up on Elijah even though Elijah had given up on himself.
The prayer of faith doesn’t take no for an answer as we read in James above. The prayer of faith is fervent; it doesn’t give up. Elijah prayed for rain not once, now twice but seven times before his servant saw a small grey cloud in the distance. It was the beginning of the answer, so he sent his servant away to inform the king to hitch up his chariot before the deluge of rain came.
Prayer is the way we forge into our futures. Effective, fervent prayer avails much.
Something to talk about:
- Share among each other what gets in the way of you praying and discuss ways to encourage daily prayer.
- Encourage each other with stories of answered prayers.
- Spend some time as a group praying for one another.