Elijah bursts on the Bible scene quite suddenly. He appears with no introduction and immediately goes to the evil King Ahab with a pronouncement. There will be no rain in the entire country as a result of their sins. The skies are closed until further notice. It is a statement of God’s judgment on Israel and Ahab’s great wickedness.
The passage also contains what at first seems to be an interesting tidbit but is much more. In his statement to Ahab, Elijah says that there will be no rain until Elijah says so.
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.” 1 Kings 17
James gives us more information. He tells us that the drought itself is a result of Elijah’s prayers to God.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. James 5
Elijah’s earnest prayers brought about a drought in the entire evil land for 3 1/2 years. The goal was to bring the people back to God. Elijah’s prayers allowed the rain at the proper time. That is some amazing power available to Elijah, right? What is more, James makes a point to highlight that Elijah is just like us. He is subject to the same nature. Yet, his prayers changed the weather for an entire nation. Someone just like us caused no rain for years through prayers. It is a challenging thought in our science and reason obsessed culture.
It would follow then that the prayers of someone like us, you and me, are just as powerful. As a New Testament believer, we actually are in a better position than Elijah being invited into His family. He was a prophet while we are children of God. Talk about access to the Throne of God!
Now, I am not saying we should be praying for drought. It was also not Elijah himself who did anything. It was God who held back the rain and later consumes the altar during Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal. Elijah’s prayers played a part in it, though. The Bible makes the point of telling us so.
Perhaps it is fear of the Prosperity Gospel teachers that cause us to avoid big prayers? But do we pray with heart-felt expectation of an amazing answer from God? Do we know that God is not challenged to answer us, no matter what we pray for?