The Bible is filled with praying warriors for God. One who
is specifically set forth is Elijah. James
5:16-18 says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous
man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he
prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on
the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and
the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” Elijah
was a praying warrior. His prayers impacted God. Think for just a
moment. What stopped the rain? Elijah did not stop the rain. He
had no power residing within him, he was a man just like us. It
was not Elijah’s prayers that stopped the rain. These were not
magical chants that contained some kind of inherent power. The God
to whom Elijah prayed stopped the rain because of Elijah’s
prayers. Elijah’s prayer was successful because of his faith in
the One to whom he was praying. If we desire our prayers to avail
anything, we must begin with our faith in God. Who is this God,
this Power, who hears our prayers? Remember, we must not believe
in the power of prayer. Rather, we must believe in the power of
God and, therefore, pray. When we truly recognize and have faith
in the nature and power of God, prayer will not be a ritual to
mark off our daily worship checklist. It will be our natural
response to His awesome majesty. In I Kings 18, Elijah had a showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt.
Carmel. However, the battle was not really between Elijah and 450
prophets. It was between Jehovah and Baal. We know the outcome,
Jehovah brought victory and the prophets of Baal and Asherah were
slain. Within this story Elijah taunts Baal’s prophets because
their god is not accomplishing the task. By contrast, we can learn
from those taunts what Elijah knew about Jehovah that allowed him
such great faith to pray for rain and for fire. Examine what he
said in I Kings 18:27:
aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or
he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be
“Perhaps he is sleeping”—Jehovah does not sleep, He
is not a man with man’s needs.
Sometimes I get tired. I am sure you have all been there.
You have been up since early in the morning, you have been working
or playing all day and now it is late at night. What do you do?
You go to sleep. Why? Because that is the way God made us. We need
But God is not like us. He does not need sleep. Numbers 23:19 says plainly, “God is not a man.” He does not have
our limitations. He does not have our needs. Isaiah 55:8-9 presents a comparison of God with us. His ways and His
thoughts are greater than ours as much as the heavens are above
We must never mistakenly believe God is like us. In fact,
the Israelites made this mistake according to Psalm
50:21. God said He would rebuke them. God is not a man and He
is not like us. Too often we envision God as basically a
superpowered human. He is great, awesome, majestic and powerful,
but all in all we picture Him as just a much better one of us.
This has been the plague of mankind since the very beginning. This
is why God had to write a law against making graven images in Exodus 20:4. What kind of image could men mold that could possibly
come close to representing the God who is not anything like us?
All we could make is something that would be like us or like the
beasts of the field. Once this image became cast in the people’s
minds, then their idea of God would be limited. We must not limit
God by thinking He is even remotely like us. Baal may sleep like a
man, but Jehovah is really God.
“Perhaps he…must be awakened.”—Jehovah does not
need us to awaken Him. He is not served by men’s hands as though
He needs our help.
Elijah pinpointed one major contrast between the false gods
and the one true God. These false gods needed their servants. But
Jehovah is truly God and is not served by the hands of men.
Paul made this declaration on Mars Hill in Acts
17:24-25, “God, who made the world and everything in it,
since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples
made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though
He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath and all
In Psalm 50:12,
God said through the Psalmist, “If I were hungry, I would not
tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” We must
come face to face with this fact. Our God does not need us. We
must never pray thinking somehow we are providing Him with some
service He requires. We pray because we need to pray, not because
God needs us to. That being the case, there is no amount of prayer
that obligates God to us. Rather, we are obligated to Him,
therefore we pray. Baal may need his servants, but Jehovah is
“Or he is on a journey.”—Jehovah is not off on a
journey. He is omnipresent.
You certainly could not expect Baal to be everywhere at
once and pay attention to the needs of all his servants all at one
time. However, that is exactly what we can expect from Jehovah
God. Jehovah does not go on journeys, He is everywhere at all
times. What a mind blowing thought.
Elijah’s statements remind me of a story I once heard. As
the third graders made their way through the lunch line, they came
to a table with a bowl full of apples. A teacher had neatly
written on a card, “Take only one. God is watching.” Later in
the line they came to a table with plates of cookies. A child had
hastily written on a card, “Take all you want, God is watching
the apples.” That is not our God. Our God is everywhere and sees
all. Psalm 139:7-12 drives this home for us. “Where can I flee from
Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”
There are two sides of this fact. The one side is a little
frightening. We cannot hide from God. He sees all and knows all.
Every sin we commit under the cover of darkness in secret from our
brethren, He sees and knows. The other side of this coin is very
comforting. Nothing can hide us from God. No matter what we are
facing or enduring God is there and we can call on Him. Baal may
travel and be out of pocket, but Jehovah is really God.
“Or he is busy”—Jehovah is not busy. He is
all-powerful and can accomplish all things at one time.
Surely you can’t expect Baal to do everything at once.
Give him time. Perhaps when he gets a free moment he can light the
fires of the altar. However, Elijah knew Jehovah could answer his
plea. Because, in fact, we can expect Him to do everything at
once. He is all-powerful.
This is, of course, an aspect of God that we simply cannot
fathom. He can do everything and He can do it all at once. He can
hear everyone’s prayers and He can do so all at once. We are
talking about the God who created the world in six days. He is the
God who sustains this universe. He provides us all with life,
breath and all things Paul said in Acts
17:25. He can do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all we can ask
or think (Ephesians 3:20).
There is nothing we can think of that He cannot accomplish. He
does not have to finish what He is working on now to get to our
requests. He is simply that powerful. That is not to say He never
makes us wait. We simply know that God is far more powerful than
we can even imagine. We cannot begin to challenge or tax His
power, with our wildest requests. Read Job
38-41, to scratch the surface of His power. Baal may get busy
and preoccupied, but Jehovah is really God.
“He is meditating.”—Jehovah is not distracted by His
own meditations, but loves and listens to His servants and
Without getting sidetracked by some of the more colorful
possible meanings behind the original language at this point in
the text, we can see that Elijah says Baal may just be so
preoccupied with his own concerns that he does not have time,
energy or ability to deal with his servants’ requests. But that
is not the case with Jehovah. What an amazing aspect of God.
We are so unworthy, yet God loves us and listens to us. As
we have already said, God does not need our prayers. But He wants
them, because He cares for us (I
Peter 5:7). Psalm 8:3-4 demonstrates how amazing our God is in this regard.
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the
moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You
are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit Him?”
David recognized how amazing God’s regard for us is. Despite how
amazing it is, that is the way it is.
How great it is to know that God loves us because He is
love (I John 4:8). His love is not based on anything we can do for Him or
have done for Him. That means there is nothing we can do to deter
God’s love for us. I am not saying there is nothing we can do
for which God may not accept us. I am just saying no matter what
we do, God will love us. Even while we were sinners, God sent His
Son to die for us to pay for our sins (I
John 4:9-10; Romans 5:8). Think about how amazing this is in
comparison to Baal and other false gods. If the servants of Baal
wanted to be loved, they had to do all kinds of things and make
all kinds of sacrifices. But Jehovah loves us just because He is
love and He made the sacrifice that draws us near to Him. Is there
anything more amazing than that?
Having made that sacrifice for us and having submitted to
that sacrifice, God wants us, His children, to come to Him and
pray. I do not know how many times I hear someone in the
background saying, “Daddy…Daddy…Daddy…Daddy…” Then
Marita hits me, “Edwin, Ethan is talking to you.” I do not
mean to do that. But sometimes I am just so focused in my own
little world that even though my subconscious is registering that
my child needs me, it does not break through to consciousness or
action. Jehovah is never like that. Baal may get so focused on his
own concerns and meditations that he does not listen to his
servants, but Jehovah is really God.
After the prophets of Baal finally gave up in exhaustion,
after crying out to Baal for nearly 9 hours, Elijah called the
people to himself, prepared the altar and then called on Jehovah
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that
You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done
all these things at your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this
people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have
turned their hearts back to You again. Then the fire of the Lord
fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones
and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they
said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”
Suddenly, the people of Israel came face to face with the
realities of God that Elijah believed and knew all along. What did
they do? They worshipped, praying praises to Jehovah, the only
living God. When the realities of God sink into our hearts, our
response will be the same. No longer will we have trouble
scheduling, committing to and following through on prayer times.
Rather, we will have the opposite problem. We have trouble
scheduling, committing and following through on other issues
because of how much time we invest praying. This is Jehovah God.
He is not like us. He does not need us. He is everywhere and sees
all. He can do all. But despite all of that, He loves us and
listens to us. Let us pray to Him.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ