Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things (fenced in and hidden), which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).”
Jeremiah 33: 3
“No voice of prayer to Thee can rise,
But swift as light Thy love replies;
Not always what we ask, indeed,
But, O most kind! What most we need!”
H. M. Kimball
Today’s Study Text:
“And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he may see.’”
II Kings 6: 17
The God of Dothan – Part 7
“And Elisha Prayed”
“Open my eyes, that I may see, glimpses of truth Thou has for me.”
Clara H. Scott
Have I at times felt like my eyes were not able to “see” what God really wanted me to “see”?
When I pray, have I ever asked God, “Dear Father, please open my eyes so I can see what it is You want me to see”?
“Connection with God, which is the reason for any spiritual practice, begins with changing our focus from ourselves and our problems to God and His sufficiency and changing our pace from hurried and distracted to deliberate and focused.”
Keri Wyatt Kent
“The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God’s eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard or read the story of Elisha, trapped in Dothan by the Syrian army, only to have the hosts of heaven show up to rescue him. This is the way this story was planted in my mind.
However, much to my surprise, as we have studied this moving incident, a time where heaven touched earth on behalf of one of God’s beloved children, as we all are I might add, I’ve found that truth is truly found in the details laid out in II Kings 6. Our text today is a perfect example for the main point I had assumed, was that Elisha asked God to open his helper’s eyes so he could see what Elisha saw.
But there are some crucial details which have given new meaning to me. What we find is that this wasn’t some random event that just happened. In fact, there’s more to this story than what meets the eye, as least with one quick glance. So for the next few days, please stick with me as we dig deeper into God’s message for us in II Kings 6: 17.
The first vital point that caught my attention happens to be the three words which are found at the beginning of the passage – “And Elisha prayed.” This was not an activity that Elisha did after all other attempts had failed. He didn’t call “Dothan 911” first. He prayed – first – before he did anything else.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, because as you know, I haven’t met Elisha – in person. But after studying about this man of God, I have a feeling that Elisha was in the habit of going to God, first, about everything. Lost his car keys, ask God first to help him find them. Has a child whose decision making appears selfish and flawed, talk to God immediately about the problem. A marriage is cracking up – notify God of the need, even before you get counseling. God first! This was the way Elisha operated. And if there’s one important lesson we can learn it is this: if we want to be called “women and men of God” like Elisha, prayer goes to the top of our list of daily activities. As E. M. Bounds calls it, “Daily prayer for daily needs.” And I’ll add, whatever those needs are – from the very simple to the most complex. I also find encouragement in the words of instruction from Pastor R. A. Torrey who noted, “When we feel least like praying is the time when we most need to pray.” Just think of Elisha with his assistant in a complete panic, probably looking for some place where he could hide and rather than trying to calm the young man, “There, there, things aren’t as bad as they seem,” Elisha says, “Let’s pray.” It almost seems out of place when you have an entire army nearly at your front door, with their swords readied to draw blood. But when you are God’s person, where else would you go? Who else would you talk to? How else would you act? I love to hear Elvis Presley sing the old-time hymn, “Where Could I Go But to the Lord.” I think each of us can especially relate to the chorus which touches the tender spots in all our lives: “Where could I go, oh where could I go, seeking a refuge for my soul, needing a friend to save me in the end, won’t you tell me, where could I go but to the Lord.” (James B. Coates, songwriter.)
There is, however, a second point that we need to learn from this passage of Scripture and it is this, during moments when the world we live in is chaotic, it is at these extremely tumultuous times when stepping into a quiet moment of prayer can bring a stabilization into our lives not found anywhere else. I deeply appreciate the way author and pastor George MacDonald underscores this very point in his book, Diary of an Old Soul, penned in 1880, when the world, as it was known then, was not as hectic as we find it today. Here’s MacDonald’s insight, “When I am most perplexed, it may be there Thou makest a secret chamber, holy-dim, where Thou wilt come to help my deepest prayer.”
Just think for a moment about all the myriad of thoughts that certainly could have been whizzing through Elisha’s mind as his frantic helper cried out regarding the imminent danger they faced. Their lives appeared to be in peril, at least I think that I might have felt that way. But rather than let the turbulence of that single moment bring confusion into his mind, Elisha kept his focus directed where it naturally was, no matter the ever-changing circumstances which swirled around him. His thoughts were directed toward his Father in heaven.
I want to divert for one moment, back to the life of Elijah. In my studying over the past few weeks, I ran onto a book of sermons, collected from the pulpit of Frederick W. Robertson, pastor of the Holy Trinity Church, in Brighton, England beginning in August, 1847. In his sermon entitled “Elijah,” this Biblical scholar noted that, when Elijah was in a time of great confusion in his life, as he ran into the wilderness, God came to His despondent child not in a hurricane, earthquake or fire, but in stillness and quiet. I’d like to share the way Pastor Robertson expressed his thoughts regarding this experience in Elijah’s life:
“God calmed (Elijah’s) stormy mind by the healing influences of nature. He commanded the hurricane to sweep the sky, and the earthquake to shake the ground. He lighted up the heavens till they were one mass of fire. All this expressed and reflected Elijah’s feelings…Observe. ‘God was not in the wind,’ nor in the fire, nor in the earthquake. It was Elijah’s stormy self reflected in the moods of the tempest, and giving them their character. Then came a calmer hour. Elijah rose in reverence – felt tenderer sensations in his bosom. He opened his heart to gentler influences, till at last out of the manifold voices of nature there seemed to speak, not the stormy passions of the man, but the ‘still small voice’ of the harmony and the peace of God.”
When I read these comments, I thought to myself, “I wish I had found this sermon weeks ago when we were studying about Elijah.” But as I dug deeper into the story of Elisha and his aide who was so fearful because of the chaos that surrounded Dothan, I felt God had just kept these words in a special place for me to find at the right moment in time for they so beautifully open up to us a visual perspective of how our Father in heaven works in our lives in those moments when we take the time to step out of the commotion that impedes our way and instead come into the quiet realm of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
This is what we find Elisha did in that moment when fear could have ruled the day. Instead the Scripture tells us, he went into the heavenly chamber where as Jon Courson states, the purpose isn’t to “primarily move the hand of God but rather to hold the hand of God.” No wonder Elisha had nothing to fear. It wasn’t the size of God’s army that assured Elisha that everything would turn out just fine – it was the knowledge he was in the hand of the “One” who kept him in the palm of His hand. In the words of Samuel Gordon, “An open life, an open hand, open upward, is the pipe line of communication between the heart of God and our poor befooled old world.”
“And Elisha prayed.” No wonder he wasn’t afraid.
“Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God,
Thy will to see,
Open my eyes,
Clara H. Scott
“And Elijah was told, ‘Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.’ A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there.”
1 Kings 19 11-13
The Message Bible
“’Don’t call me, God. I’ll call you.’
Well, I don’t mean it to be that way.
It’s just that prayer tends to be on my terms,
when I’ve got the time and inclinations,
and even then, I do all the talking.
as though God didn’t already know
what was in my heart.
Yes, I’m aware that conversation
is a two-way business
but I guess it’s easier for me to talk
because I’ve got a bit of a hearing problem,
and God’s voice is so terribly quiet
that listening can be hard work.
It means turning into a huge silence
in order to pick up a whisper or two.
I’m not good with silences.
They make me feel disconnected.
I want to shout down the line:
“Are you working? Is anybody there?”
I think I need some practice,
still times to sit with silence
and feel comfortable in it
so that I recognize the voice when it comes.
And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll discover
that the best part of prayer
is to let God do most of the talking.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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