The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops. [James 5:16-18a (NLT)]
The prophet Elijah told King Ahab that, until the prophet said otherwise, there would be neither rain nor dew for several years, and there wasn’t. Since Israel had been worshipping Baal, the Canaanite god of storms, this severe drought was to demonstrate to Israel who was the true God. Three dry years later, the Lord told Elijah to inform the king that there would soon be rain. The prophet told Ahab that he heard a mighty rainstorm coming and then climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel to pray. Meanwhile, his servant went to look for rain clouds over the sea; when he saw none, he returned to Elijah with the disappointing news. The old man, however, kept praying and sent his servant back to search for clouds. Back and forth the servant scurried until the seventh time, when a little cloud finally appeared. Elijah confidently warned Ahab to hurry home before the storm came. Soon the sky was heavy with storm clouds and a terrific rainstorm occurred. The drought was finally over.
What, I wonder, would have happened if Elijah hadn’t had such faith? His servant kept returning with the discouraging news of only clear skies but Elijah kept praying. What if Elijah had given up in despair after the sixth fair weather report? What kept him on his knees?
Maybe the reason Elijah didn’t give up in despair was because of God’s track record. Three years earlier, when God told the prophet to declare there would be a drought, there was. When God told Elijah that he’d be fed by ravens, he was. When God told him that a widow in Zarephath would feed him, she did and they never ran out of food. When the widow’s son died, Elijah prayed that he would come back to life, and he did. God had always proved true to His word so Elijah knew that God would provide rain when he needed it.
We probably don’t have quite the amazing history of God’s miraculous provision as Elijah, but we all have memories of times when God provided something we desperately needed: a job, money, words, healing, strength, help, patience, or guidance. When it seems as if God doesn’t hear us, when we’re tempted to give up praying, we can’t lose hope. We need to remember the many times in the past that God answered our prayers and believe it will happen again. God is always true to His promises; He will not fail.
Search for the Lord and his strength. Always seek his presence. Remember the miracles he performed, the amazing things he did and the judgments he pronounced, you descendants of Israel, his servant, you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones. [1 Chronicles 16:11-13 (GW)]
The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. [Psalm 145:13b (NLT)]