Praying Like Elijah #11

Saturday, February 28, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

All too often today prayer is reduced to mere posture and procedure—kneel at the railing, or enter your prayer closet, cross your heart, close your eyes, bow your head, use prayer beads or prayer wheels, and recite what you have read in a prayer book. Dear friends, prayer at its fundamental level is none of those things. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Are you going to stay kneeling literally every moment? Should your eyes be closed every second? Is your head to be bowed 24 hours a day, seven days a week? If prayer is kneeling, closing eyes, and bowing heads, then yes, yes, and yes. The truth is, prayer in the Bible is not some formalistic practice, so no, no, and no!

When barren Hannah prayed to the LORD, she told the priest Eli, “I have poured out my soul before the LORD(1 Samuel 1:15). David wrote to Israel, “Ye people, pour out your heart before him (Psalm 62:8). Romans 10:10 says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” The “heart,” our soul, our innermost being, is that which we use to believe God’s Word. Prayer is speaking to God what is in our hearts, and if we have studied and believed our Bible, then we will be speaking to God what He told us. Again, this is consistent view of prayer, regardless of dispensation.

Brethren, we are to be constantly reminding ourselves of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Meditate on these things” (1 Timothy 4:15). Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7). Day in and day out, we should be thinking about God’s Word to us, reminding ourselves of what He said to us. This is Pauline prayer. This is answered prayer….

Our special edition 125th Bible Q&A: “Should we observe the Lord’s Supper?

Praying Like Elijah #10

Friday, February 27, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

Romans 1:8-12, 1 Corinthians 1:4-8, Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:3-11, Colossians 1:3-12, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:3-5, and Philemon 4-6 are all instances of how the Apostle Paul prayed for other Christians. The Berean Bible student will study and consider them, and adjust his or her prayer life accordingly.

Firstly, Paul thanked God for other believers. He constantly reminded himself that he was not alone in the Christian ambassadorship. Other people were in the world also suffering for Jesus Christ’s sake, but God’s grace was working in them and so it would work in him in spite of the opposition. He was continually mindful that, as an apostle, God had  commissioned him to take care of the Church the Body of Christ. The grace saints in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica, and in other cities and regions, they were his fruit. It was important that he thus constantly remind himself of God’s Word to him and them, that he see that God’s will for him be accomplished regarding them!

Secondly, Paul prayed that these Christians grow spiritually. He did not want them to be “babes in Christ,” but fully mature sons of God! The Apostle wanted them to “come unto the knowledge of truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He wanted them to understand the doctrines of grace as he had come to know them from Jesus Christ Himself. He prayed that God’s grace would work mightily in them to produce the life of Jesus Christ in and through them! He wanted them to understand God’s power, that the power of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, would work in them when they would believe those grace doctrines.

Let us study Pauline prayer in greater detail….

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Praying Like Elijah #9

Thursday, February 26, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

Elijah could no more make God bring in a global flood as in the days of Noah, than we can make God fulfill Israel’s verses in our Dispensation of Grace. As Elijah recognized the dispensational boundary between his day and Noah’s day, so we acknowledge the dispensational boundary between Elijah’s day and our day. As a friend and coworker in the ministry always says, “We have never been big enough a day in our lives to make God do something He is not doing.”

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). “Continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Certainly, prayer is a vital part of Christian living, but unfortunately, too many believers pray like Israel or like heathen. There rarely is any genuine Christian prayer, so there rarely is any answered prayer!

So, if we are not to pray like Israel, and not to pray like heathen, how then should we to pray? Just as Elijah let God’s spokesman to him, Moses, teach him how to pray, we turn to God’s spokesman to us, Paul, and let him teach us how to pray. However the Holy Spirit prayed for us through Paul, how Paul prayed in the Holy Spirit for us, is how the Holy Spirit will pray for other Christians through us, how we ought to pray in the Holy Spirit.

Friends, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, make it so plain what God is doing today. His will has been clearly revealed, and we are to study those books and make it our will to pray that His will be accomplished. We are not making God doing anything, but rather reminding ourselves of what He already said He would do….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did David’s father Jesse have seven or eight sons?

Praying Like Elijah #8

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

Once, I spoke with a dear Christian woman who was confused about prayer. She was surprised to learn that the so-called “Lord’s Prayer” had nothing to do with us in the Dispensation of Grace. Yes, strange as it sounds, a prayer that 99.9 percent of Christendom has repeated, and still repeats, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over as though it affects us, is actually a prayer that has nothing to do with what God is doing today! While many use that prayer as a model prayer, they have not studied their Bibles to learn there are four model prayers especially for the Body of Christ.

When a Christian comes to understand dispensational Bible study, his or her prayer life falls apart. It happened to me, and many others I know. They learn that they were either praying like Israel (the “Lord’s Prayer”) or praying like heathen (mindless, repetitious, man-made prescribed prayers). It will be a happy day in the lives of millions of Christians when they learn that God’s spokesman to them is the Apostle Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). They will save themselves years upon years, yea decades, of confusion, heartache, and disappointment. (Still, the vast majority of professing Christians rebel at dispensational Bible study, refusing to break their erroneous prayer habits because that would contradict long-held tradition.)

Beloved, it bears repeating—prayer is designed to be a response of God’s Word to you. Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, are God’s Word to you, so if you are unfamiliar with God’s Word to you, you will be praying apart from God’s will. You will not see God work because you will not know what He is doing. Indeed, dispensational Bible study revolutionizes your Bible understanding and your prayer life….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the ‘mystery’ of Colossians 1:27?

Praying Like Elijah #7

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

Elijah believed God’s Word to him. He had a dispensational view of the Scriptures: he did not “name and claim” for Israel verses that God had not spoken to or about Israel. Elijah’s prayer life was patterned after God’s Word to the nation Israel, of which he was a member. There was pagan idolatry in Israel; Deuteronomy 11:16,17 predicted that God would shut up the heaven and prevent rain from watering Israel’s crops; and Elijah’s will was to pray in perfect accordance with JEHOVAH’S will. Elijah was not disappointed because He did not try to make God do something He never said He would do. If only the average church member could take to heart and practice the integrity with which Elijah handled the Holy Bible.

Prayer meetings and prayer requests prove most people are asking God to do something He never said He would do for us. No wonder there are so many unanswered prayers! People are grabbing Israel’s verses, promises God made to Israel, and making as though those verses are to or about us. Preachers talk about literally raising the dead as Jesus did; or literally laying hands on sick people as Jesus did and having them miraculously recover without medical intervention; or God miraculously adding zeros to the end of our bank accounts as He did with Abraham, Isaac, Job, and King Solomon; or God sending angels to protect us as He did with the apostles, the kingdom of Judah, and Peter.

Dear friends, unanswered prayer is not because God is unable or uninterested. Remember, we cannot limit God but we cannot force Him, either. Still, God is God, and He can limit Himself. If He says He is not going to do something, we would be unwise to think that we were God by making Him do what we want….

Praying Like Elijah #6

Monday, February 23, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

When God made the covenant of Law with Israel at Sinai, Moses made it very clear to them that they had to obey all of God’s commandments to receive His blessings (Exodus 19:3-6). If they broke that contract, He judged them, not to get even but to reform them (which reformation they usually refused). According to chapter 20, verses 1-6, the first two of the Ten Commandments forbade Israel from worshipping and serving other gods, and from making graven (carved) images. During the reign of evil Ahab, Elijah prayed for a drought because that is what God said He would do in the case of Israel’s idolatry. A drought came and lasted 3½ years (cf. today’s Scripture; Luke 4:25,26).

What if Elijah had prayed for a global flood? That would have certainly gotten Ahab’s attention! After all, did God not promise in Genesis chapter 6 that He would flood the world because of its wickedness? Certainly. Why did Elijah not behave like today’s “name-it-and-claim-it” proponents, grabbing random verses, ripping them from their contexts, attempting to make God grant his selfish desires?

Firstly, Elijah recognized the dispensational boundary between Genesis chapter 9 and his day. God was not dealing with Israel on the basis of the promises He had made to Noah and his contemporaries. Genesis chapter 6 was not God’s Word to or about Israel. However, Deuteronomy was God’s Word to and about Israel, and because Deuteronomy was in God’s will for Israel, Elijah prayed in accordance with it. Secondly, God promised never to flood the world again (Genesis 9:8-17). Had Elijah not recognized these two facts, had Elijah not recognized God’s Word to him (as a member of the nation Israel), his prayer would have gone unanswered and he would have been disappointed and confused.

This corrected view of Elijah’s prayer thus adjusts our view of prayer….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What happened to the Gentiles of Acts 10?

Praying Like Elijah #5

Sunday, February 22, 2015

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17 KJV).

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

With idolatrous Ahab and Jezebel leading Israel, Baal (devil) worship infiltrated the northern 10 Jewish tribes. The seventeenth chapter of 1 Kings states that Elijah the prophet confronted Ahab, and told him that it would not rain for some time. Over 600 years earlier, JEHOVAH had warned Israel through Moses that, if the nation embraced heathen religion (idolatry), a drought was imminent and Israel’s crops would fail (Deuteronomy 11:16,17). Elijah simply prayed in line with what God was doing with Israel concerning the Mosaic Law—if Israel failed to keep the Law, if she worshipped and served other gods, she would be cursed of the one true God.

The drought came, just as Elijah prayed and Moses predicted. It affected Elijah, but God miraculously took care of him using ravens and a poor widow woman (1 Kings 17:2-24). By the time chapter 18 opens, it is “the third year” of the drought. God instructs Elijah to go to Ahab and say on His behalf, “I will send rain upon the earth” (verse 1). There is a “sore [severe] famine” in the land, but God says that it is coming to an end. Ahab does not repent at God’s Word through Elijah (unbelieving Ahab is ignorant of Deuteronomy 11:16,17). Instead of confessing his sin of idolatry, or encouraging Israel to do likewise, Ahab searches desperately for food for the horses and mules, that all the beasts not die (verse 5). Ironically, Ahab, guilty of corrupting Israel, even asked Elijah in verse 17, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?”

While we must now break away from the story of Elijah, Ahab, and Jezebel (you can read the resolution in 1 Kings chapters 18-21), we will return to the subject of unanswered prayer, its cause and cure….

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