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Read Introduction to James

 

“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.”

 

and he prayed earnestly

Literally, “he prayed earnestly” is “he prayed with prayer.”  The redundancy of “prayer” makes this an emphatic prayer.  Elijah sought the audience of God, not man. 
that it would not rain;
The purpose of Elijah’s prayer 18was to bring back the rebellious people of God into fellowship with their God.  Drastic problems require drastic actions. 
Israel was deep into idolatry.  God destroyed the 450 prophets of Baal in the end.  They had to admit that God was God (1 Kg 18:39).                                                                           
and it did not rain on the land
God answered Elijah’s prayer.  God does not answer the prayer motivated by sinful desire or twisted purposes.
Ps. 66:18 “If I regard iniquity in my heart,
            The Lord will not hear.”
for three years and six months
Elijah’s prayer began a 3 and ½ year drought (1 Kgs 17:1; 18:1, 41-46; Lu 4:25).  By knowing the will of God, he understood the purpose of his prayer. 
PRINCIPLE: 
Effective prayer revolves around God’s purposes and promises.
APPLICATION: 
God is in the business of enlisting us in His will.  We share with God’s purposes by prayer.  We should pray about God’s purposes in the world such as evangelism.  God uses prayer to move in us as well as through us.  Prayer changes us, not God.  Prayer does not persuade God to do something He is not willing to do.  Jesus prayed, “Not my will be done, but your will be done.” 
 Elijah prayed in God’s will so God answered him.  He did not spend extended time in prayer but simply prayed within God’s plan.  This involves finding God’s will.  Finding God’s will depends on knowing the principles of the Word.  That is why the Word of God commands us to pray “in the Spirit” and “according to the Spirit.” 
There is a correlation between sin and sickness.  Those who enter into protracted sin may come down with some illness or suffer an accident.  When we acknowledge our sin and confess that our sin took Jesus to the cross, God engages His forgiveness that is already possible by the death on the cross.  Sometimes God even heals the person who confesses his sin and yields himself to the Lord. 
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