Sunday, April 7, 2013

Synchronizing Wills

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

I would love to have an opportunity to talk to the President about a few things, as I’m sure many in our nation would.  But most likely, I’ll never get the chance, and if I did, he wouldn’t listen to what I had to say.  He has advisors, those who he trusts, that he takes his queues from.    

James 5:16-18 talks about those that God trusts, and how they have an audience with Him.  It says that those who are righteous and pray passionately get His attention much like Elijah.  Our righteousness comes from one of two sources.  It is either our own, or it is Jesus’ righteousness. 
If we accept Jesus as our Savior, He wraps us in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).  But if we choose to keep our own, we are wrapped in “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:5-7).  No unclean thing can come into the presence of God (Leviticus 22:3).  Just as your status within the government affects your audience with the President, your status in God’s family affect your audience with Him (John 9:31).

After you have received the righteousness of Christ, what does it then mean to pray fervently, passionately? What does it take to get an audience with God that “avails much”?  James gives Elijah as an example.
In 1 Kings 17-18 we read that Elijah lived in an evil time.  It was a time when God’s people worshipped idols, and turned their backs on God and God’s Word.  Ahab had become king, and did more evil than all that were before him in a time that was filled with evil rulers.  He took Jezebel, a woman whose legacy has caused her name to become synonymous with evil, as his wife.  He sat up idols, and even built one of wood with his own hands.  Under his rule, Hiel began to build back the city of Jericho, which was cursed by Joshua.  Joshua 6:26 says “Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.” Just as God had given Joshua prophecy, Heil’s firstborn son Abriam died with the building of its foundation, and his youngest son, Segub died with the setting up of the gates and the task came to a close.

But Elijah was not like the others of his day.  Elijah had a passionate love for God.  He was angered at the king’s idolatry.  He stood before Ahab and said, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” He was not speaking of a prophecy that God had given him, but pronouncing a curse on the land by the power of God before whom he stood.  James 5:16-18 contributes the lack of rain for three years and six months to Elijah’s stand before the king.  God heard Elijah, and saw his passion for God.  And when all the brooks and water had dried up, and great famine had come to the land, God sent him back to Ahab.
But Ahab didn’t just pray again and it rained.  He called Ahab to himself and had him bring the prophets of Baal to him.  There, after he had proven with signs and wonders the power of God over the prophets of Baal, he executed all of the idolatrous prophets under the command of God. 

Elijah’s prayer had purpose.  He wanted to bring back those that had wandered from God into idolatry.  He wanted to reunite them with God.  The next two verses in James 5 connect this with the words of his “effective, fervent prayer” life.  It says “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Elijah’s relationship with God was far more than strong.  It provided position with God, as a trusted servant.   In Matthew 17:3 we read that he was one of two sent back to earth to be transfigured with Jesus on the mountain.  Elijah was more than a man who believed in God.  He was a man who God could trust, who walked in God’s will, desiring that God be glorified.  God found in Elijah something so pleasing that he saw fit to not have Elijah see death, but to take him to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11).

When we become passionate about God, when we truly seek him selflessly, then we will see a powerful prayer life.  1 John 5:14-15 says “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
It can be frustrating to pray and pray for something that never comes.  We begin to doubt our position with God, and if our prayers are being heard.  But perhaps that’s not where the problem lies.  Perhaps our prayer is not in tune with God’s perfect will for us, and those around us.  Having a prayer life that “avails much” requires our will to be in sync with His.  Pray that He shows you His will.  We do not have the vision of life that God has, being the only one who can see the future as history.  His will is what we want, always, for He knows what is best for us.


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