The Practice of Powerful Praying
Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees.
–1 Kings 18:42
Most people think the climax of 1 Kings 18 is the fire falling from heaven and consuming the sacrifice. Until recently, I thought that was the climax of the story as well. But as I studied the text, I discovered that Elijah offered two prayers on Mount Carmel. The first was his prayer for God to bring down fire to consume the sacrifice. But Elijah prayed for rain as well. “Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees. He said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look toward the sea.’ So he went up and looked and said, ‘There is nothing.’ And he said, ‘Go back’ seven times. . . . In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower” (vv. 42-43, 45). Elijah’s first prayer on Mount Carmel brought fire from heaven, but Elijah’s second prayer brought rain from heaven.
We can learn about powerful praying from Elijah’s second prayer. First, if you want to experience powerful answers to your prayer, then pray privately. Now, there are times we can pray with other people–maybe our mate, our children, or at church–but I have found that when I am praying out loud, I am so focused on what other people may be thinking that I forget I am not talking to them; I am talking to God. That is why Jesus advised when you pray, pray in private. In Matthew 6:6, He said, “When you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Now, Jesus wasn’t saying it is wrong to pray in public. There are many times Jesus prayed publicly, but the majority of time He spent praying, He was praying privately.
Second, when you pray, pray honestly. In 1 Kings 18:42, “Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees.” That verb translated “crouched” is the same verb used in 2 Kings 4:34 about Elijah stretching himself out over the boy in order to raise him from the dead. Why is this important? Because this prayer that Elijah prayed was not one of these little, nice, folded hands, “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayers. This was a crying out to God. Elijah threw himself on the ground and pleaded, “Lord, answer me. Send the rain.” I think too often we don’t ask God for what is really in our hearts because, frankly, we don’t want to ask God to do something we don’t think He can pull off. So we pray for safe things: “Lord, bless the missionaries.” Or, “Lord, bless the starving children.” Those are good prayers, but that is not praying what is in our hearts. When we come before God, we ought to pray honestly about what we want. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Do you need a raise? Ask God for it. Do you need healing? Ask God for it. Are you single and want a mate? Ask God to bring the right person into your life. Prayer is not praying what you think should be in your heart; real, honest prayer is praying for what is actually in your heart.
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.