The Living God Responds to Prayer

1 Kings 17:1-7 & 18:41-46

This passage is our first introduction to the prophet Elijah, and we see him confronting the wicked king Ahab, who we are told ‘did evil in the eyes of the Lord, more than all who were before him’ (1 Kings 16:30). Elijah declared that there would be no rain or dew until he said otherwise. During the time of drought, Elijah himself was provided for as God had shown him a brook from which he could drink and had commanded ravens to bring him food.

The second set of verses in this passage takes place three and a half years after the first. Elijah’s word had come to pass and there had been no rain in all of that time, and there had been famine in the land. Elijah told Ahab that there was a ‘sound of the rushing of rain’, even though humanly speaking there seemed to be nothing there. Elijah had a prophetic sense that God was going to bring the drought to an end, so he declared this to Ahab.

In response, Elijah went to Mount Carmel and prayed for rain. He then sent his servant to check whether his prayer had been answered. On six occasions, the servant had nothing to report, so Elijah continued praying. On the seventh, the servant finally saw a small cloud, and before long the sky was full of clouds and the rain was pouring.

In the New Testament, this passage is picked up by James (5:17-18), who uses it as encouragement for us to pray. The fact that Elijah was just like us and saw such dramatic outcomes from his prayer should encourage us to also pray in all circumstances.

Some Key Points:

  • Elijah was sent by God and responded to God’s voice.
  • Elijah received God’s supernatural provision for his needs during a time of lack.
  • Elijah was charged by God to pray, and he persisted in prayer until he saw God answer.

Potential Applications:

  • Pray With Faith  – As Elijah prayed with confidence that God would answer his prayer, so we can have faith that our prayers too will be ‘powerful and effective.’
  • Persist In Prayer – The first six times Elijah prayed, he didn’t see an answer but he continued in prayer. Often we can be tempted to give up on prayer if we don’t see an answer straight away, but Elijah’s example encourages us to keep going.
  • Listening Prayer – Throughout the passage we see Elijah praying and acting in response to what he hears God saying to him. A key part of prayer is listening to God’s voice and letting this shape what we ask for.