A Man of Prayer
1 Kings 18:30-40
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” 34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” 40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there. (NIV)
If we are to know and follow the will of God both individually and collectively, we must be people who speak with God in prayer do what He says.
Twenty-seven years ago, I was seeking God’s will for my life and ministry. I had been invited to join the staff at Temple. I really sought God and believed God gave me clear direction to move to Hattiesburg and serve God through our great church. God spoke clearly, and I obeyed. My family and I have been so blessed because of that decision.
I wish I could say that I have always sought God’s Will, and I did exactly what God told me to do. The truth is, I have sometimes thought I knew what “I” wanted to do. That is a battle we all face every day of our lives.
Are we doing things our way, or God’s way? Elijah was a man who prayed and heard from God. He had prayed that God would withhold the rain so that the people would turn to God in their crisis. In today’s passage, Elijah recognized the people were worshipping with the prophets of Baal and not the One true God.
The poor condition of the altar was a symbol of the poor condition of the spiritual condition of God’s people. Elijah called the people to come near. In their presence, he began to repair the altar. He wanted the people to see how he prepared for the sacrifice. They watched him drench the altar so that only a miracle (fire from Heaven) could light the fire.
We will see God work when we become a people of prayer, we do exactly what God says, with the purpose of bringing people to God. Take notice that Elijah prayed and asked God to respond so “that this people may know you, Oh Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
We can’t be used by God when our purpose is to bring glory to ourselves. Elijah wasn’t building his reputation, he was trusting the reputation of God. May our prayers always bring glory to God. I hope we avoid the temptation to pray selfishly. Let’s pray to advance God’s Kingdom and not our kingdom.