You may be familiar with Elijah’s prayer in the book of 1 Kings 18 when he powerfully called on the name of the Lord on Mount Carmel. This amazing prophet and messenger from God actually prayed two times on the same mountain. The first time he prayed on Mount Carmel, God sent fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:38). The second time he prayed, God sent rain (1 Kings 18:44-45).
Let’s take a look at each of these prayers of Elijah, and discover what powerful lessons we can take away from these prayers.
Elijah’s Prayer: Praying for Fire
When Elijah first prayed for fire on Mount Carmel, it was because the people of Israel had turned away from God and were worshiping false gods, particularly the false god of Baal (1 Kings 18:18). Elijah set out to remind the people that the Lord is the One True God. He proposed that the people of Israel, along with the prophets of Baal, gather together on Mount Carmel and pray to their god. Elijah would pray to the God of Israel. The god who answered by sending fire from heaven would be declared the true God.
This seemed like a good idea to everyone, so they gathered on Mount Carmel to call out to their god. The prophets of Baal went first. They cried out in vain to their god, who apparently must have been sleeping while they were praying (1 Kings 18:27). After the prophets of Baal prayed, prophesied, and called out to their god with no response, Elijah prayed a simple and sincere prayer to God.
Here is Elijah’s prayer:
“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. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”1 Kings 18:36-37
As soon as Elijah prayed, the Lord answered–and fire fell from heaven! You can read the entire story of Elijah at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18:16-46.
Powerful Lessons from Elijah’s Prayer
Here are some powerful truths we can gain from Elijah’s prayer:
1. “You are God”
Many of the people of Israel had forgotten God, and conformed to the ways of the neighboring peoples around them who worshiped Baal. King Ahab, who was king of Israel, did the most evil in the eyes of the Lord by marrying Jezebel and worshiping Baal (1 Kings 16:30-31). The people of Israel desperately needed to be reminded that God is the One True God.
We may not live in a foreign land that worships Baal, but we are surrounded by the negative influences in our society that seek to pull us away from serving the Lord wholeheartedly. We can stand firm in our faith like Elijah, even if we seem to be the only ones living for God. May others know by our example that the Lord is God!
The people of Israel desperately needed to be reminded that God is the one true God.
2. Elijah’s Prayer: “I am your servant”
Elijah was one of the last prophets left at that time, since King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had put many of the prophets of the Lord to death (1 Kings 19:10). Elijah felt all alone in his journey as a prophet, but he faithfully continued as a servant of the Lord. When we are faced with opposition and hardship because of our faith, how should we respond? We can ask the Lord to ignite our faith as we continue to faithfully serve God in our lives each day.
3. “Answer me, Lord”
Elijah boldly asked the Lord to answer him and hear his prayer. When we pray boldly before God, we can pray with expectancy–knowing that God always hears our prayers. He may not always answer us in the way we may think, but we can confidently know and trust that our great God knows exactly what we need.
4. “So people will know you are God”
Elijah not only prayed for his own benefit, but for the people who were watching him on Mount Carmel. When we pray mightily to God, others around us will hear about the mighty wonders God will perform in our lives. We never know how our lives, prayers, and personal testimonies will reveal the truth of God to those around us, or even turn others back to the heart of God.
After Elijah prayed, fire fell from heaven and consumed the altar and sacrifice Elijah made on Mount Carmel.
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. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”1 Kings 18:38-39
When we pray bold prayers before God, miracles can happen! The book of James also highlights Elijah’s bold faith and mentions that he was a mere man who was used mightily by God (James 5:17-18). The truth is, we don’t have to have amazing faith or be a super-prophet to pray with power and boldness. The same God who lives within us was with Elijah, and God used him in a powerful way to move heaven and earth–and he can do the same with us!
Elijah’s Prayer: Praying for Rain
After God powerfully revealed himself through Elijah’s prayer in 1 Kings 18:36, Elijah climbed the top of Mount Carmel for the second time and bent down to the ground with his face between his knees (1 Kings 18:42). The first time Elijah prayed on Mount Carmel, he was in the presence of many people (1 Kings 18:24, 38). The second time he prayed on Mount Carmel, he was by himself, positioning himself prostrate before the Lord.
There are times when we will pray in groups, and then there are times when we will pray alone in our own prayer closets, or “war rooms”. God hears our prayers in both settings. Elijah prayed for rain because there had been a drought in the land for about three years (1 Kings 17:1).
As Elijah prayed for rain, he asked his servant to look expectantly towards the sea to observe if there were any rain clouds. At first, there was nothing (1 Kings 18:43). Seven times Elijah instructed his servant to go back to see if there were any signs of rain. On the seventh time, the servant reported that there was a cloud as small as a man’s hand (1 Kings 18:44). That was enough for Elijah to tell King Ahab to hitch his chariot, because the rain was coming. Sure enough, heavy rain poured on the land (1 Kings 18:45).
Lessons from Elijah’s Prayer: Be Persistent
Elijah had faith and persisted in prayer–even when there were signs of drought all around him. Through his perseverance, God displayed his glory and power in his provision of rain. Do you feel like you are in a “drought” season and are in need of God’s provision of rain? Don’t give up, have faith, and continue to pray. God knows exactly what you need, and will provide your needs in his perfect timing.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Romans 12:12
When Elijah Prayed for fire, God displayed his glory and revealed that he is the One True God. When Elijah prayed for rain, God displayed his power and provision. When Elijah prayed for fire, God answered immediately (1 Kings 18:38). When Elijah prayed for rain, God did not answer right away, but Elijah persisted in prayer, and waited expectantly for God to answer.
What have you been praying for lately? Are you praying for “fire” (God’s glory to be revealed), or are you praying for “rain” (God’s power and provision in your life)? There are times when God will answer our prayers immediately, and there will be times when God will not answer our prayers right away. God knows what we need, and his timing is always perfect. May Elijah’s prayers give us encouragement as we seek the Lord each day and trust that he hears our prayers!
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