Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Because His tender compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is your stability and faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3: 22, 23
“God never forgets. He never loses count of prayers nor of time. Prayers may seem unanswered. But, when the heart’s in right touch, there’s always thoughtful love in the delay. The waiting-time is a training-time for us…Let’s keep faith’s fire burning even through long waits and heavy rains.”
S. D. Gordon
Today’s Study Text:
1. “Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months. And then he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the land produced its crops as usual.”
James 5: 17, 18
2. “And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
1 Kings 18: 41
“Prayers That Grasp The Hand of The Almighty”
“Prayer should be the means by which I, at all times, receive all that I need, and, for this reason, be my daily refuge, my daily consolation, my daily joy, my source of rich and inexhaustible joy in life.”
What have I learned about prayer from the experience of Elijah?
In what ways did Elijah’s faith become strengthened during the 3 ½ years he waited for it to rain?
Is there currently something I am waiting for and I have not seen an “abundance of rain” in answer to my prayers?
Will I eagerly continue to “pray through” this time of waiting?
“Though dark the way,
Still trust and pray,
The answering-time will come.”
“Prayer brings momentum. It lifts the heart above the challenges of life and gives it a view of God’s resources of victory and hope.”
When we first met Elijah, we began by reading the words found in James 5: 17, 18, our study text for today.
I’m thankful the Apostle James, the brother of Jesus, took time to let us know that Elijah, God’s prayer warrior and prophet of exceptional faith, was someone you and I can relate to. He wasn’t superman. He wasn’t perfect. Indeed, as we look at Elijah over the next few days, we are going to find out that just like you and I, he faced personal challenges that drove him to the brink of collapse. In every element of Elijah’s life, be it spiritual, physical or emotional, he had stretched himself to the limit until he was burned up and burned out. At the end of his strength, we find Elijah still clinging to his Father in heaven and this is why I want to share a few thoughts regarding the tenacity with which we grasp the Almighty hand, especially during those times in our lives when we don’t have the “oomph” to do anything else. As James reminds us, Elijah was a man of prayer. And I’ll add, his prayers were answered. Granted, not as fast as he would have liked, but this reality didn’t stop Elijah from continuing to pray through, even when he hit the bottom of the barrel.
One of the questions I believe we all face when we have pushed ourselves to our limit and God seems to have a deaf ear to our pleas is this: ”Why would God put me through this? Why is He letting me just dangle in the wind?
I know some of you have felt this way because you have written and told me so. You are out on a limb, alone, discouraged and above all, weary. The battle has taken it out of you. Or as we used to say when clothes had to be starched, ‘There’s no starch left!’ The result -- you feel and look like a wrinkled mess.
If I’m describing your situation right now, don’t let it surprise you for I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been there myself and it is for this reason we are going to spend some time looking at the emotions which rise to the surface when a we find our all too human selves, weary and worn,
Thankfully, God’s word comes to our aid in two specific ways. First, the Bible assures us of the faithfulness of our Father’s loving care for each one of us. What a comfort and blessing it is to know that it was because Elijah knew his God was faithful that he could promise, before he had witnessed any evidence to prove the facts, there was going to be “an abundance of rain.” Second, we have the detailed recording of individual lives throughout Scripture, Elijah being only one example, that reflect and compare to many of the same trials you and I face. It is from these “real life” examples that we can come away with our own faith strengthened, knowing with surety that the God who sustained in the past does the same today for you and me.
As you look over the landscape of your life, and if you feel that your prayers haven’t gotten through, I encourage you to rest comfortably on the faithfulness of your Father. In the beautiful words penned by English poet Anne Bronté:
“Eternal Power, of earth and air!
Unseen, yet seen in all around;
Remote, but dwelling everywhere;
Though silent, heard in every sound;
If ever Thine ear in mercy bent,
When wretched mortals cried to Thee,
And if, indeed, Thy son was sent,
To save lost sinners such as me:
Then hear me now, while kneeling here,
I lift to Thee my heart and eye,
And all my soul ascends in prayer,
Oh, give me -- give me faith, I cry.”
Recently, during my study of Elijah, I found some time to read about the reformer Martin Luther, whose own faith was severely challenged. Just as we find Elijah facing a personal crisis where his emotional well-being was on the brink of collapse, I found that Martin Luther, too, faced a time when he wrote, “I do not have a strong and firm faith; I am unable to trust Thee altogether. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in Thee.”
This may be your cry today “Strengthen my faith and trust in Thee.” Let us grasp the hand of the Almighty and never let go, for our God is faithful. “Faithful is He who is calling you to Himself and utterly trustworthy. He will also do it!” (1Thessolonians 5: 24, Amplified Bible).
“We are to ask with a beggar’s humility,
to seek with a servant’s carefulness,
and to knock with the confidence of a friend.”
D. L. Moody
“So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgment of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.”
Hebrews 10: 23
“Midst all life’s fleeting changes,
The things which fade and fail:
The lights which once so gladdened
But now grow dim and pale;
It comforts and it heartens,
Whate’er may pass away,
To know that He is faithful:
To find that He doth stay.
Sometimes He has to test us
If He would faithful be;
And then His acts we challenge;
The end we do not see;
But He abideth faithful;
And so, throughout each test,
He heeds not our complainings,
But waits till we are blest.
So, through all lights and shadows,
Through all life’s nights and days,
Through all its varied problems,
Through all its untried ways,
Unswerving, He’ll be faithful,
Will fail not nor forsake.”
J. Danson Smith
“He (God) remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.”
II Timothy 2: 13
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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