At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near.
–1 Kings 18:36
James wrote, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (5:16). Then he pointed to the Old Testament prophet Elijah as Exhibit A of a righteous person who prayed effectively. Elijah’s fifth secret for living an extraordinary life is unleashing the power of prayer.
In 1 Kings 18, the prophets of Baal cried out and danced around the altar for six hours, but Baal did nothing for them. Contrast their antics to the way Elijah approached God. Elijah offered a simple prayer: “Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again’” (vv. 36-37). And what was the result? The fire of God fell from heaven (v. 38).
Why did God answer Elijah’s prayer instantly and dramatically? Elijah’s simple prayer reveals principles for powerful praying that will bring dramatic answers to your prayers as well.
If you want answers to your prayers, then approach God with confidence. In 1 Kings 18:36, Elijah “came near” to the altar. Elijah knew that God was about to send fire from heaven to consume the animal sacrifice, but instead of moving away from the altar, he got closer to it. By doing so, Elijah was saying, “God, I believe You are so powerful that You can consume this sacrifice without consuming me as well.” He had confidence in God. God wants us to have confidence when we come before Him in prayer. In Ephesians 3:12, Paul described the Ephesian Christians as having “boldness and confident access through faith.” Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” God wants us to come before Him confidently.
Because of my jam-packed schedule and because of security reasons, people can’t just walk in the church and come to see me. In order to come into my office, you have to have an appointment, and there needs to be an agenda to make sure it is something that I can help with. But there are four people who never need an appointment to see me: my wife, my two daughters, and my son-in-law. They can come to see me anytime they want. They can pop in to say hello, and that’s fine with me. What’s the difference? They are part of my family. I have a special relationship with them. It’s the same way in our relationship with our heavenly Father. We don’t need a preapproved agenda. We don’t need an appointment. We don’t need a pressing concern. We can come before God anytime we want and ask Him anything we want. That’s the confidence with which God wants us to approach Him.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Practice Powerful Praying” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.