“A Man with a Nature Like Ours”
“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 5:17)
We are often intimidated by Bible characters. They seem too good, too holy,
too self-controlled for us. Their deeds seem superhuman, their perspective too
great. Yet as James encourages us to effective, fervent praying, he reminds us
of a man who prayed this way—and that “Elijah was a man with a nature like
ours”(James 5:17), yet did amazing things through prayer. Elijah was a regular
guy—a mere man, like us—yet he shows us what people and us can do when we pray
Regular people like us can pray earnestly. This is the kind of prayer James is
encouraging: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails
much”(James 5:16). The reason God granted Elijah’s prayer was not because He
had another interesting chapter to add to the Bible, or because He owed Elijah
a special favor. He was a regular guy—yet when regular, righteous people pray
earnestly, God acts! “Earnestly” is not to be overlooked—it describes a spirit
of continual, energetic, enthusiastic, faith-based praying. It is not easily
dissuaded, nor does it forget what is asked. It sees prayer as more than a
throwaway, last-chance attempt at getting what we need. Elijah was no
superhuman—just a man—yet he prayed earnestly, and received what he requested.
Regular people like us can pray in the will of God. The amazing thing about
Elijah’s prayer was that it was simply a prayer for God to fulfill His word.
God had warned that if His people were wicked, “I will make your heavens like
iron and your earth like bronze” (Lev 26:19). Elijah prayed for drought to
fulfill God’s purpose—to break the stubborn will of God’s wicked people. Why
would God not answer a prayer like this—which is His express will? We too can
pray that more be saved (1 Tim 2:4-5), that Christians be holy (1 Thess
4:3-4), and that truth grow and be accepted (2 Thess 3:1)—and know that we are
praying exactly God’s will!
Regular people like us can see prayer answered. Elijah prayed for drought—“and
it did not rain on the land for three years and six months”. Elijah prayed for
it to rain again—“and he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth
produced its fruit” (James 5:17-18). If we look by faith, we can see the
working of God in answer to our prayers—although perhaps a different answer
than we expect. The question is: Do we have the faith to pray, truly believing
that God will alter the world—making a drought—simply because we earnestly ask
Him? And when He does, do we have the humility to acknowledge it is not us who
did it, but the Lord? The world may have said this was an ancient “El Niño,”
but Christians know the truth—that God was answering a faithful man’s prayer.
How many more seemingly natural ways has God answered prayer for faithful
people in our world?
Do we have the courage and faith to pray like Elijah—an earnest prayer,
centered on God’s will, laced with faith that God will act? He was no
superman—and we can be like him if we have faith like him!
By Jacob Hudgins
From Expository Files 17.1; January 2010