1 Kings 18:37 “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Elijah’s motive was never his own fame or glory, but rather that the people would be returned to the worship of the Lord. I think just now is the first time it has occurred to me that the water poured on the sacrifice (verses 33-35) was part of the sacrifice, because after three and a half years of no rain, water was a precious commodity. In any case the contrasts between Elijah and the prophets of Baal were many and extreme, from number to activity to results. This prayer, contained in just two verses, has only one thing in common with what the prophets of Baal had prayed, and that is the request for an answer. (verse 26) They had prayed from ritual and tradition, but Elijah prayed from experience and relationship. It is interesting to note that the activities of the idolaters here are practiced in some religions even today, notably Islam and Hinduism, where people injure themselves as part of their worship. It is no more pleasing to the Creator today than it was back then! Even in some supposedly Christian groups there has been the practice of self-whipping, and it shows a sad lack of understanding of the nature of sin and the character of our heavenly Father. Like Elijah, we need to operate in the assurance of who God is and who we are in Christ, confessing and repenting of sin but not thinking our actions can add to the atonement that Jesus accomplished on the cross. We cannot earn salvation, even by suicide! We need to remember that God desires a relationship with us, as a Father to His children, and so press in to know Him better and offer ourselves to Him as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) in pure and obedient living. If we will do that, our prayers will have the kind of weight Elijah’s did, just as James pointed out. (James 5:16-18)
This is quite a challenge to me. Prayer comes easily to me, and I have seen some occasionally dramatic answers, but nothing on the scale of Elijah. I too would like a miracle to turn the hearts of the people to the living God, but so far that hasn’t happened. At one point I was expecting a resurrection to take place to confirm the Word through me, but I haven’t seen one yet. Thinking back, at the point that was big in my awareness, had it happened, I would probably have been destroyed by the fame that would have resulted, and genuine repentance and discipleship would probably have been rare. God always knows best! As it is, I am to walk in ever-increasing fellowship with my Lord, praying boldly under the direction of the Holy Spirit and offering myself as an instrument for God to accomplish that which He has me pray, for His glory alone.
Father, thank You for this powerful reminder. May my faith grow so that I may pray with full boldness, without trying to dictate to You how You are to save this nation. May Your name indeed be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!