“5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” James 5:13-20
It is incredible that God would use the example of Elijah, one of the greatest figures in the Bible, to exhort us to pray. But that is what doctors do when they want to bring back to life someone who is on the verge of dying: they blast a powerful jolt of electricity into his body and the person shakes back out from the grip of death!
Why would God use the example of Elijah?
He wants to show us not just the incredible work that we are called to do in His Kingdom, but the unspeakable power that is available to us.
The Apostle James tells us that Elijah was a man of like passions as us. That means he was a man who had the same struggles that we have with the flesh, and who made the same mistakes that we make.
But Elijah did not look at his own weaknesses; on the contrary, he was filled with faith and through this faith he went to WORK for the Lord.
Now notice the monumental task that Elijah put his shoulder to. The Bible says he prayed for it not to rain for three and a half years. And that God heard and answered his prayer. After the three and a half years were over, Elijah prayed again, and the rain came, and the earth gave up its fruit.
What an incredible man! What a patient man! What a serious man! And what a man of faith Elijah was!
I am sure that when the Bible says that Elijah prayed, I am sure it meana he did not just mumble a prayer and hope for the best. Nor did he attend a one night prayer meeting.
Elijah prayed for many days, probably months. And he did not pray just because God had probably told him to. The “Oh, ok Lord” prayer. On the contrary, Elijah had a ZEAL for the Kingdom of God, the same zeal that Jesus had when he drove out the temple merchants from the temple in Jerusalem with a scourge. Elijah had the same burden on his heart that God had. He wanted to see the righteousness of God restored back to the nation of Israel.
And so Elijah went to work in the only way he knew how… through prayer. And guess what… Mountains were moved! According to the word that he had spoken, it did not rain in the land for three and a half years. He prayed again, and it rained.
Elijah was a man who was serious about God.
Likewise, the early church was a church of a holy life and much prayer. One time they prayed and the place where they were gathered was shaken (Acts 4:31). Shaken! Throughout the book of Acts, we see the Early Church praying and great things happening (Acts chapters 9, 10 etc.)
The Apostle Paul was a man of much prayer. Probably the scripture that underlines this more than any other is 1 Cor. 14:18.
“I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.”
For Paul to state such a fact so boldly, it underlines the fact that he prayed, prayed exceedingly.
There are people, believers, who do not believe in speaking in tongues. There are others who even scoff at it.
We are called not to judge anyone. But it is like people would like to argue with God. But I would rather believe a true servant of God like Paul than anyone who holds a contrary view.
But even more closer to home… When I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and joined the church, I heard through the teachings that there was something called the Holy Spirit. I had a deep hunger for the things of God, and I wanted the infilling of the Holy Spirit above anything else. I therefore went into “search” mode. I would spend nights upon nights in our school’s prayer room praying for the Holy Spirit. And one day, I was filled right there in that room and I spoke in tongues.
So what difference did that make, you might ask.
The only answer I can provide is what Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:2:
“For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”
Actually, what a waste! What a waste of divine power and opportunity, denying the infilling of the Spirit with tongues, just to pander to one’s ineffectual wisdom and intelligence.
The Early Church… These were great and unique men and women who had a clear revelation of God and His Kingdom, and of the nature and scope of the work He had called them to do in this world. And they laid into it with all their heart, mind and strength.
We too are to follow suit. We are a part of that Early Church. We are to pray for the sick, to cast out demons, to provide for the needs of others. We are to minister LIFE to a dying world, and we are to minister it through the power that the Holy Spirit gives us.