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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Link Between Effective Prayer and Scripture (1 Kings 17:1)

 "Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."

Wow, that's a pretty tall statement. No ordinary man or woman would make such a statement. How could Elijah make such a bold statement with confidence?

Back in Deuteronomy the LORD gave the children of Israel a list of the blessings with which He would bless Israel if they walked in obedience to Him. One of those blessings had to do with rain, "The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season" (28:12). He also gives an extensive list of the cursings than ensued from rebellion, one of which has to do with rain, "And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust" (28:23-24b).

In Deuteronomy 17:14ff the LORD also provided regulations regarding the future kings of Israel. One of those regulations required the king to take a copy of the Book of the Law from the scribe and write his own copy from which he is to read all of the days of his life. Had Ahab, the 8th king of Israel (and the 8th wicked king in Israel) read the Book of the Law he would have read Deuteronomy 28. He would have known that the lack of rain indicates God's judgment on His people.

Elijah is the first named prophet sent by God to warn Israel's king to repent. His declaration to King Ahab regarding the cessation of rain for a number of years is according to Scripture, according to the blessings and cursings found in Deut. 28. What can we trust God to do? We can trust Him to do what He has said He will do.

Two truths about effective prayer:
  • Praying Scripture is the surest way to pray according to the will of God.
  • Praying Scripture is powerful because it ensures answers.
The Apostle John confirms these truth in 1 John 5:14, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." An effective prayer life is sustained by knowing and praying Scripture. And, James uses Elijah's prayers to demonstrate effective, fervent prayers by a righteous man, "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" (James 5:16b-17). Knowing and praying Scripture prepares God's children to receive God's interventions and answers.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
  • What does Elijah learn about God as he obeys God's instructions to go to Kerith Ravine and then to the widow in Zaraphath?
  • How does Elijah's obedience to God affect the widow? What does this tell you about obedience?
  • What does the widow of Zaraphath learn about God?
  • What does Jesus use this story to teach in Luke 4:25ff?
  • What does Elijah's contest with the prophets of Baal teach the people about God?
  • Why does Elijah drench the altar with water?
  • How does Elijah respond to Jezebel's threat? What does this tell you about Jezebel? Elijah?
  • What does Elijah learn about God, himself, and the people of Israel in his encounter with God on Mount Horeb?
  • How does Elisha demonstrate his commitment to follow the Lord?
Turning truth into prayer
List the things that Paul includes in his prayer for the Ephesian believers in Ephesians 1:15-19. Pray the contents of this prayer for yourself and for your family.