Praying Like Elijah #18

Saturday, March 7, 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?

Some have erroneously concluded that unless we use the same words Elijah used, we will not see results from God. The greater fallacy, however, is to mix our Dispensation of Grace with Israel’s Dispensation of Law. While we can pray for God to demonstrate Himself as when He did with Israel (signs, miracles, wonders), God will not do it because He never said it to us. As we saw “long ago,” God hearkened to Elijah because he was quoting Scripture that applied to him. Elijah valued (believed) God’s Word, he wanted God’s will accomplished, and because he prayed for God to do what He had already said He would do, Elijah saw God’s response!

What is God’s will in this the Dispensation of Grace? “[God our Saviour] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Today, God wants lost people to trust Jesus Christ (Paul’s Gospel; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4) to be saved from a devil’s hell, and He wants saved people to trust His Word to them (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon; Romans 11:13) to be saved from a devil’s lifestyle!

Firstly, we should pray for lost people to be saved from their sins by trusting Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as the sufficient payment for their sins. Secondly, we need to pray for fellow Christians to learn how to understand and enjoy the Bible. Thus, we will be motivated to share the Gospel of Grace with lost people, and share dispensational Bible truths with Christians. God wants law-abiding leaders and citizens, godly husbands and fathers, virtuous wives and mothers, obedient children, hardworking employees, benevolent employers, and faithful saints who maintain the local assembly. Beloved, honestly, we Christians need to quit wasting our time praying denominational prayers and we need to start praying for these things!

Just imagine such transformation….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should Christians participate in yoga?

Praying Like Elijah #17

Friday, March 6, 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?

Friend, have you ever wondered why, even after people pray for angelic protection (citing Psalm 91:11,12), they are injured or killed in some accident? Or, why the sick die after they are anointed with “holy oil” and prayed over for healing (quoting James 5:13-15)? Or, why people pray for God to send them “miracle checks” in the mail to pay their outrageous bills (citing Deuteronomy 8:18), and they receive no such checks? Why prayers for vehicles, spouses, houses, job promotions, et cetera, usually never come about? (Unfortunately, these precious people lack dispensational Bible study, the key to Bible understanding, and desperately seeking a resolution to the confusion, they fall prey to “ministry” shams and scams.)

Paul’s epistles never mention guardian angels. Angels have no ministry to us: they do not serve us as they did Israel. Paul and his ministry companions suffered a variety of problems. No “guardian angels” rescued Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:22-27 (a passage replete with stonings, beatings, shipwrecks, ambushes, imprisonments, hunger, thirst, weariness, painfulness, poverty, nakedness, and cold)! After experiencing this partial listing of problems, Paul’s life ended… with evil Emperor Nero beheading him!

The Apostle’s extensive abuse and excessive torture endured over his 30 years of travelling, he undoubtedly had health issues (massive scar tissue, maiming, maybe broken bones and/or lameness). Some of his “infirmities” are in 2 Corinthians 12:10 and Galatians 4:13-15. How did Paul ever survive those hardships? How did he not give up? It was God’s grace working in him. He remembered God’s grace was sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). God’s grace was sufficient for ill Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23) and sick Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), and for the poor Macedonian Christians (2 Corinthians 8:1,2). This grace is sufficient for us too, and we are mindful of it when praying in our circumstances, good and bad….

Praying Like Elijah #16

Thursday, March 5, 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?

The “dispensations,” or sets of divine revelation that mankind is to believe and obey during precise time periods, change throughout time. Prayers are spoken according to God’s instructions specific to that time, so the contents of believers’ prayers vary from Genesis through Revelation. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (verse 16). There is much profit in prayer today, provided that we pray in accordance with the “Dispensation of Grace” (Ephesians 3:2—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon).

Prayer reminds us of the Scriptures applicable to the current dispensation and our life circumstances: if we pray in accordance with a former dispensation (such as God’s Word to Israel), prayer will not impact our Christian lives as God intended, thus resulting in more unbelief, disappointment, and confusion.

Two of the best prayer verses for this dispensation is what our Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6,7: “[6] Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [7] And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” What great memory verses!

We should “pray without ceasing” and “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:17,18). Regardless of circumstances, we pray “in every thing,” and we are thankful “in every thing.” Remembering God’s Word to us about those circumstances will give us His wisdom and peace in those circumstances. We need to constantly think about God’s Word to us, whether about marriage, employment, schooling, parenting, finances, illness, or whatever—Paul’s epistles say something about all of these life topics. Start by reading Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3.

Beloved, when we pray the Pauline way, we will guard ourselves from frustration and bewilderment, and our prayers will “avail much”….

Praying Like Elijah #15

Wednesday, March 4, 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?

Many precious Christians all around the world, suffering various difficult circumstances, are fervently praying for God to remove those tribulations (remember Paul?). Yet, the troubles remain (remember Paul?). They wonder, “Does God love me? Do I have enough faith? Is there unconfessed sin hindering my prayers? Am I even really saved?” Such disappointment, misery, and confusion!

Beloved, remember, prayer is talking to God in light of His Word to you. The most basic fallacy in modern-day prayer-practice and prayer-preaching is to grab God’s Word to Israel, and make it apply to us. Whether it is “the Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13), or “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do” (John 14:14), or “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19), none of these verses apply to us. God the Holy Spirit never gave us the Church the Body of Christ any such verses in Romans through Philemon. In fact, as we already saw in Paul’s epistles (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), we find God saying “No” three times to Paul’s prayer for deliverance.

Surely, God’s dealings with Israel and God’s dealings are different. In Israel’s program, calamity was a sign of disobedience and God’s punishment of it. However, when we come to this the Dispensation of Grace, problems are not something to flee. God is not mad at us; we are forgiven and accepted in Christ. We suffer trouble in this fallen creation, but we need to always be mindful that God promises to get us through our trying times, not take us out of them. In difficult circumstances, we need to repeat to Him in prayer what He told us in Scripture….

Praying Like Elijah #14

Tuesday, March 3, 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?

It is no secret that there is much suffering in this fallen world: where there is sin, sorrow is sure to follow. But, because of prayer, there does not have to be misery. My heart truly goes out to people who are suffering and hurting, and who are confused about unanswered prayers for deliverance. It is with the utmost care that we remind them to look at their problems the way the Apostle Paul finally learned to look at his “thorn in the flesh.”

Initially, Paul, assuming it was harmful, begged the Lord three times for deliverance. Verse 9 of 2 Corinthians chapter 12 says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” In other words, “Paul, I have something far better in mind for you than deliverance! You are weak but I am strong! I have already given you enough grace, an inner capacity, to handle your problem!” What was Paul’s reply? “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul finally saw the value in times of suffering. Jesus Christ’s power would bear him up. Rather than the troubles destroying him, He would use them to Paul’s advantage.

The Berean Bible student will notice, “He said unto me…,” a direct reference to God’s spoken Word. We have to see what God says to us. We find God’s Word to us about suffering in other passages such as Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:18-28, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. There are so many dear precious saints praying to escape their problems, when Jesus Christ has already said He wants to live in them in the midst of those difficulties!

Let us now see how we are to pray in difficult circumstances….

Praying Like Elijah #13

Monday, March 2, 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?

The ascended, risen, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ revealed the mystery to the Apostle Paul over the course of nearly 35 years. This information was completely different from what God had revealed to the Old Testament prophets, the writings Paul had studied intensely when he was lost (see Romans 16:25,26, Ephesians 3:1-12, and Colossians 1:23-27). Now that God had ushered in a new dispensation, Paul had to think differently about God. He had to quit praying according to the old divine revelation, and pray according to the new divine revelation.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, after talking about the various visions and revelations of Jesus Christ he had, Paul discusses how he was humbled: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.”

“We know not what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26b). Since there was more revelation from God coming, Paul was, in 2 Corinthians 12:8, not praying according to the new program. He was still thinking of God’s promise to deliver Israel from problems. Verse 9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” There, in that awful, vexing circumstance, Paul learned one thing—God had given the grace, the capacity, to endure it. Rather than deliverance, Jesus Christ promised inner strength, inner fortification, inner power, to bear the trouble.

Paul had to readjust his view of problems and prayer, and we will let him tell us how we should go about doing it….

Praying Like Elijah #12

Sunday, March 1, 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?

“Rabbi Shaul” was one of the most educated Mosaic scholars of his day. From a very early age, he had studied the Mosaic Law. Learning those Old Testament scrolls, he came to understand that whenever his people Israel suffered any sickness/plague, war, calamity, et cetera, it was divine punishment. He noted how Israel’s conversion and prayer resulted in God removing the problem.

Once “Rabbi Shaul” became “Apostle Paul,” he was intensely persecuted. To Gentiles and Jews alike, he was a renegade Jew, a peculiar fellow. Formerly a religious leader who could not stand to even hear the name “Jesus of Nazareth,” now a “religious leader” who could not stand to be silent about the name of Jesus Christ! Now that he was not preaching Judaism, Israel was after him! Now that he was preaching an illegal religion, Rome was after him! Now that he was not preaching blasphemy, Satan was after him!

We read in 2 Corinthians chapter 12: “[6] For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. [7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.”

Satan afflicted Paul with something that constantly irritated him (there is Scriptural evidence that it was likely ophthalmic in nature). Three times Paul prayed to the Lord for deliverance, and Paul was shocked to learn the Lord’s answer….