A few years ago, I was at a dilemma in my life and had no idea of the outcome. Have you ever experienced indecision in your family? Dianne and I had decided to change our church direction; a new and different ministry. Not based on our own ideas of church but what the Holy Spirit had been whispering to each of us, in totally different ways.
I had made a commitment three months earlier to our worship pastor. My commitment was to serve on the worship team for four months. I had already given our decision to leave the fellowship but felt a commitment, was a commitment. The worship team that I sang with, always practiced the Tuesday before the following Sunday’s service. However, the new church fellowship that we were now attending, had a Christmas drama presentation that we both committed to, on the same night that week. Which one was I going to cancel? The ministry I had already committed to or the new commitment I had been drawn too? I began to go back and forth in my mind. I wanted to go to the drama practice at our new church home, and yet…I began to pray. I still didn’t have peace in my spirit after praying specifically for about ten minutes. “Desperate conditions need desperate measures”, I thought. And then I learned an important lesson in what NOT to do. I proceeded to throw myself down on the family room’s carpet with my eyes shut tight, and crying out to the Lord in my desperation. Now that was a FERVENT PRAYER! Then a small, still voice spoke in my ear as I lay prone, slobbering on the wet green carpet. “Mel, what are you doing down here. Get up and trust Me. That’s all you need to do. I have heard your petition without your slobbering.” At almost the same instant, the phone rang. “Hey Mel. I know this is a late notice but something has come up and I am postponing the worship team practice. Will Thursday night work for you?” I think I blurted out something like, “THANK YOU JESUS; YES!” The lesson I was taught that afternoon was fervency in prayer isn’t always needed on every occasion. When do we use fervent, earnest prayer? I will give some examples in God’s Word next.
Turn with me to I Kings 17 and lets look at the Prophet Elijah’s fervent plea. God had spoken specifically to Elijah, where he was to go and what to do in verses 9-16. Now I don’t know the single mother and her son’s spiritual condition at that time, but she was desperate. Little groceries in the pantry, no heat and no light! Then God shows up through the Prophet Elijah in the middle of a drought. In her desperation she was left with “picking up sticks”. Have you ever been in a situation in your life where all there was left to do was “picking up sticks”? When I was a child and I would moan and groan about circumstances, my mom would say, “go to the mountains and eat worms if things are that bad”. Her conditions began to change; enough bread to feed company, enough oil to cook with and light the house. Her faith had been restored; or maybe NOT. Remember, her household was now in plenty. The rest of her neighbors were still in want. VERSE 17 says, “After these things, the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.” What would you say and do if you were in a place of ‘more than enough’ to a place of sorrow? A place of ‘not enough’. VERSE 18 says, “And she said to Elijah, What have you against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and slay my son?” The faith, the trust in God had obviously left the building. What was the man of God going to do now? What would I do? Without hesitation, VERSE 19 says, “He said to her, Give me your son. And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed and laid him upon his own bed.” We don’t know what was going through Elijah thoughts at the time. But we know that he was obedient, he trusted in God and He would hear his voice and answer his prayer, right NOW! No FEAR here and it’s time for effective prayer. Now lets look together at Elijah’s FERVENT PRAYER to his heavenly FATHER. VERSES 20-22 say, “And Elijah cried to the Lord and said” CRIED in the Hebrew means that Elijah was loudly shouting out to God here. I personally think the dead boy’s mom could hear Elijah’s prayer from downstairs. Elijah goes on, “have You brought further calamity upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?” Disrespectful here on Elijah’s part? Do some digging in Isaiah 43:26 and get your answer to that question. His prayer to God had reached the boiling point. It was bubbling up and the prayer was in action and movement. This was FERVENT PRAYER! Then Elijah did something that most Christians would probably not do. VERSE 21 says Elijah “…stretched himself upon the child” not once, not twice BUT “…three times and cried to the Lord and said, O Lord my God, I pray You, LET THIS CHILD’S SOUL COME BACK INTO HIM.” And the result of his fervent, heart centered prayer in VERSE 22 says, “And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” Can you visualize the scene, when Elijah comes down the stairs and says to the wide-eyed mother, “See, your son is alive!” Todays skeptics would most likely comment that the boy wasn’t dead at all. The three of them had conspired to make the headlines. There are no miracles today! Even though you may doubt believers’ testimonies, it still doesn’t change the results. Look at the mom’s response in VERSE 24, “..By this I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” This example of Getting Results in Prayer, are paramount in believers prayer lives. Elijah showed us obedience to God’s Word. He showed us trust and faith, using FERVENT PRAYER as a practical expression, of confidence in God and in His word. This wasn’t a religious exercise in FERVENT PRAYER. This is a heart condition through a relationship with our Father.
My next BLOG I will do some detective work digging in the New Testament. The FERVENT PRAYERS of individuals in the HOUSE (the local church).