Well, if you’re Elijah, it may seem like a shock. He could pray for rain to stop and it happened. He could pray for fire to fall on the altar and BAM!
But then it came time for rain to fall again and it wasn’t as instant.
41 Elijah then said to Ahab, “Get up! Celebrate with food and drink because I hear the sound of a rainstorm coming.” 42 So Ahab got up to celebrate with food and drink. But Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. He bowed down to the ground and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his assistant, “Please get up and look toward the sea.”
So the assistant did so. He said, “I don’t see anything.”
Seven times Elijah said, “Do it again.”
44 The seventh time the assistant said, “I see a small cloud the size of a human hand coming up from the sea.” (1 Kings 18:41-44, CEB)
I find prayer is work most of the time. But it is the effort Elijah gives that calls out as an example. Elijah labored in prayer. The position he took was one of a birthing position. Seven times he had to send his servant to look for a sign. He was not going to give up.
We need prevailing prayer in our lives again. This is a place where my Pentecostal heritage really speaks to a particular subject of the Christian life. Pentecostals were people of the altar. There was a phrase called “tarrying in prayer.” You didn’t stop until the answer came.
When I was growing up in Kansas there was an elderly couple who took me under their wing. Her dad had pastored my home church in the 1950s. Back in the Depression he had pastored out in western Kansas. A young family called him to their farm home one night because their newborn baby son was sick with fever. Hospitals were few and far between. They needed a miracle.
Brother Shelton (Christians were called “brother” and “sister” in those days) took the baby up in his arms and began to pray. He went outside and all night long he walked the farmyard with that baby in his arms. He called out to God as he paced between the barn and the farmhouse. As the sun came up the fever broke. Brother Shelton tarried. He birthed a miracle in prayer.
James reminds us, “Elijah was human just like us.”
He prevailed in prayer. So can we.