Understanding Spoken Words in the Bible! Elijah’s Words and Prayer for Rain! Part 11
(Ver 1.3) Today is Part 11 of a series of very advanced lessons on Understanding Spoken Words in the Bible. You may have noticed if you read my Bible lessons that I teach a lot on this subject and one reason is that the Bible says a lot about this subject. I figured out that any subject that God emphasizes this much must be an important one for me to learn about and to know. Therefore, I spend a lot of time looking at these verses on this subject and they have shocked me into changing what I say dramatically. If you understand this subject just a little bit you will know this is true for you also. I will warn you that today’s lesson is potentially very advanced and only for mature spiritual Christians. This is because the topics and things said may be hard to swallow for younger immature Christians. So please judge yourself before you continue reading this Bible lesson. If you are not comfortable with controversial topics then please just go read someone else’s blog for today. If you have never studied this series of lessons on Spoken Words, I would strongly suggest that you go back to “Part 1” and start your reading there first.
When you study the Bible, you do not read but 1 chapter in Genesis and you can see that God speaks words in order to create our world that we live in. At least seven times in this chapter of Genesis it says “And God said” and God would say something and then shortly it would come to pass. It is interesting to note and to analyze what God said and then to see who He was speaking it to. Did you ever realize that in Genesis 1 you cannot find where it says that God was ever speaking to anyone in particular? In other words God was not speaking to someone specifically in a conversation like we have them between ourselves. God would speak words directed at no one but a problem that He perceived and then things would change based upon what He said. Therefore, no one had to hear God’s words spoken for them to be effective and to cause something to change. It’s kind of like the old saying if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? According to what the Bible says, the tree heard it even if no one else did. For example, God would look at the darkness that covered the earth and say “Light Be” and then light was. So obviously the darkness heard what God said even though we did not. So we learn from this that your words have the same potential and they do not have to be directed at or heard by anyone in order to effect changes in your personal world. God spoke the answer before the problem and then the answer was made manifest. Read Genesis 1 and see what God says “Let there be light”, “Let there be a firmament”, “Let the waters be divided”, “Let the earth bring forth grass” and on and on. Every one of these cases represents a problem followed by a spoken solution. This is a concept taught in the Bible where God describes as “calling those things that be not as though they were”. Do you understand this concept? If you do not understand this concept you should go and read Roman 4:17 and the surrounding verses to see what God says about this subject of speaking words before you see them happen. The concept of calling for what is not seen is exactly what God did in Genesis 1. God saw there was no light and said there was light and then the light came in. You can see this principle demonstrated in Genesis 1:3, 1:6, 1:9, 1:11, 1:14, 1:20 and 1:24. It is a very powerful lesson from God being given to us. God plainly sets us an example of what we should be following in the world today. Then in Genesis 1:26, God said “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness and let them have dominion…”. So if God said this, did this happen like the other 7 times God said? You can clearly see that everything God said in Genesis 1 came to pass exactly like he declared it, so these words spoken about man would be no different. If man was designed by God to be like God, then we would have to be open to operate like God does. We of course do not always have to believe this, but this is usually just because we have not been taught these concepts from the pulpit.
Today’s lesson is concerning prayer and spoken words; their relationship and their essential unified association to each other. It is usually self-evident to most people that prayer should involve speaking words to God. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray like John taught his disciples, Jesus gave them some example words to speak to God. Many times people take this example prayer that some call the “Lord’s Prayer” and just parrot the words back up to God like this is being effective. However, this was not what Jesus was teaching us to do. You can teach any parrot to say these words and that would not be praying at all. God is not stupid; He has heard these words before, so these words are not intended to replace your words that you normally speak. Also, Jesus taught more than one set of verses on the subject of prayer so we must try to put all of them together and then learn from them all. Here is something else that Jesus said about prayer:
Mat 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
As you can see Jesus says for us not to be vain in repeating the same words over and over to God thinking that we will be heard. This verse implies that it matters what we say in prayer. If you pray the Lord’s Prayer repeatedly in your prayer life, are you not being vainly repetitive? So that sounds like a problem to me. Do not use a model prayer as the only basis for what you pray. You may certainly at first use this prayer as a model construction for your prayer and then change it to your own words. The Lord’s Prayer starts with praise to God and the acknowledgment to who God is and then the prayer asks for God’s will to be done in the earth. Finally, the prayer gets to us asking for what we need in our lives and the forgiveness of our sins is one thing that we should ask for. But then you should also understand that this prayer was taught to the disciples before Jesus died on the cross. Therefore, this was a model of an Old Testament prayer to God and not necessarily a New Testament prayer to God. For example, Jesus said to pray that the Kingdom of God be established in the earth; and guess what the Kingdom of God is inside of me right here and right now, so this prayer has been answered, so why would I pray that again? I’m smart enough to know that the Kingdom of God has come inside of me already so I do not need to ask for this to happen again. If God has already fulfilled it, then you do not need to pray for what has already occurred. Do you understand this? You might can pray that the kingdom of God be expanded and grow, but technically speaking Jesus never taught us to pray that sinners would get saved. The only verse that I have found about praying for sinners in the Bible is when Jesus tells His disciples to “Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest”. This is the salvation principle of God sending sowers, a preacher or worker to speak the truth in love to an unsaved person so that they can hear and believe in Jesus and then be saved. So prayer is an awesome subject to study in the Bible and we will get to more of this subject later. But, today I want to speak on specifically about spoken words in relation to prayer. You cannot technically pray without using words, but we also speak words all day long and how do these words affect what we pray?
I cannot find anywhere in the Bible where God honors silence or silent prayer. In fact when I was studying about angels it would appear that the scripture says if the man would have been silent, the angels would not have been sent. You can read this in Daniel very clearly. Daniel prayed to God and fasted for 21 days until the angel of God finally showed up with the answer to his prayer. So Daniel’s silence would have resulted in no angels being sent, the angel Gabriel told Daniel for your words I was sent (Dan 10:12). This is a problem in many religious circles where they hold a moment of silence for some individual that maybe has just died. This might be considered giving someone respect or honor but your silence is doing no good other than that. What if when Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus and stood before it in a moment of silence and then left? Would Lazarus had been raised from the dead? No, I do not believe that he would have. So we can then see what Jesus did to cause Lazarus to be raised, can’t we? Jesus makes the statement to God, “I thank thee that you have heard me”. Jesus implies something that is very important to our lesson today, and that is God is listening to your words. You then see Jesus speaking to the dead man and calling his name “Lazarus come forth”. Was Jesus calling Lazarus alive with his mouth and the words that just came out? So silence would not have brought the answer to Lazarus. To give honor or respect to someone is probably not a bad thing to do, but it will not change the situation. It is like here in the south when we see a funeral procession going by we normally pull over in our cars and stop out of respect for those who are driving by. This is a common practice in the southern parts of the United States and I believe it promotes an attitude of Christian love towards those who have just lost someone from this world, so I believe it is a positive thing to continue doing even though there are no Bible verses that say to do this.
Jas 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.
This is one of my key Bible verses today that introduces the rest of the subject of prayer to come. You can clearly see that God is instructing us to pray and not just for ourselves. This verse ends in the statement that the prayers of a righteous man or woman have great power in them. Because Christians do not believe this, they do not do it. Many times it is a self-image problem; they do not feel like they are righteous enough to ask God to do anything. Fortunately for us it is not our righteousness that we are depending on; if it was we would all be in trouble. It is the righteousness of Jesus Christ that permits us to come boldly before the throne of God without guilt or shame (Heb 4:16). So here is the next verse that follows this one about your prayer:
Jas 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.
So here I go today with the basics on this lesson about prayer and words. As you can read in this verse, God says that Elijah was a man just like one of us. What people should understand is that the people that God uses in the Bible were not special or different or unique in their appearance, characteristics, problems, situations, challenges or life’s little nuances from us today. Too many Christians think in the terms that prophets like Elijah possessed something special that we do not have that allowed him to accomplish great things in the Bible that we simply cannot do. However, that is certainly not what this verse is saying, is it? Elijah according to God and James who is writing this account is said to have prayed to God and this caused it not to rain on the earth for a period of 42 months. This is actually a very interesting statement that God makes to us, since if you have ever read the story of Elijah you can’t find where Elijah ever prayed this in a way that we would call prayer. So what is God trying to teach us from this statement? I believe God is saying sometimes we need to expand our definition of what prayer is.
Jas 5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
So here is another verse that says Elijah prayed and God caused it to rain again. We have now seen two verses that said Elijah prayed and God answered the prayers because they were effective. It sounds like to me that this would be a good subject to go back into the Old Testament and see what God says to us about how Elijah accomplished these miracles of no rain and then rain again. You can find this story of Elijah starting in chapter 17 of 1 Kings:
1Ki 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
Here is the beginning of some words that Elijah spoke that almost floored me. This is the exact same Elijah that James wrote about so get that first and foremost into your head. Then realize that this verse is the very first verse in the Bible that mentions the name of Elijah. So therefore, we can conclude that there are no prayers of Elijah to God that are mentioned in the Bible up to this point. So we have a major problem that needs a resolution; either God did not record Elijah’s prayer in the Bible or Elijah did not pray the way that we would consider prayer to be performed. I personally believe the second is true and God gave us the exact information in the Bible that we needed to know to learn about what prayer is and what prayer is not. Remember what Jesus said “Father I thank thee that you heard me”. Do you think that God was listening to the words that Elijah said to Ahab? Let’s reexamine what Elijah says; God tells us that Elijah was speaking to Ahab and Elijah said “The Rain will obey my Words!” I know this was my paraphrase of what he said, but it is very close to exactly what He says to Ahab. I mean did you see it? Elijah had to believe something in order for him to make this kind of statement; the drought had not started yet so these words could be considered to be a prophetic prediction of something that has not occurred. Or as we have seen in Genesis 1, John 11 and Romans 4, it could be that Elijah was calling those things that be not as though they were. We of course know that Elijah was a prophet of God, but remember what James said, the New Testament says Elijah was man just like one of us. In other words what Elijah did, we can do. Wow, I don’t know if you believe that or not, but I do. I know that just blows the minds of religious people to think this way, but I’m just reading the Bible.
In reading this chapter of 1 Kings you can see that God speaks to Elijah and tells him what to do only after he has spoken to Ahab. God tells Elijah to go to a brook where God will sustain him and Elijah goes there and stays until the brook dries up for a lack of rain on the earth. God then tells Elijah to go to a city where a widow woman has been commanded by God to provide for him. The widow is obedient and God blesses her and even when her son dies, the prophet of God raises the child back to life. So God is definitely heavily involved in this chapter of the Bible and this is how this chapter ends:
1Ki 17:24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
The Widow woman says “The Words of the Lord in your mouth are true”. It is very interesting to see what this woman saw and says. Keep in mind that James said this was a man like us, and then reread this chapter with this in mind, looking for what he says. Are the words that come out of your mouth, can they be considered the truth of God’s Word? The words that you speak, will a stranger woman that you just met see that they are the words of God? Your words that you speak are much more important than you can possibly imagine. I believe your words help to identify you.
1Ki 18:1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
Here is the first time that God tells Elijah to go back to Ahab and tell him that it will rain again. You cannot find where Elijah asked God to do this, can you? This appears to be a God initiated conversation and not Elijah’s prayer for God to send rain, doesn’t it? So how did God tell Elijah this? Was it some loud audible voice from heaven or is this not how God speaks to you? God only spoke to me once in an audible voice so I believe this is not how God normally speaks to His people in the earth. Every other time that God speaks to me it has been as a still small voice in my spirit and I believe this is how God spoke to Elijah in telling him what to do also. Otherwise God is doing something different or something special for Elijah that he doesn’t do for us today and this is not what James told us in the New Testament. It is also special to note and to understand that prayer is not about just you speaking to God. If you are the only one speaking in a prayer conversation with the Almighty then you have a major problem on your hands. You should be quiet enough to let God speak back to you since He is so much smarter than you are. It would be much more valuable to hear what God says at prayer time than for Him to hear what you have to say constantly. Do you understand this concept of listening in prayer? Just pay attention and give God the opportunity to speak, you might be shocked at what He says for you to do.
1Ki 18:41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
In this chapter of 1 Kings, Elijah goes to king Ahab after God told him it was going to rain and makes some more statements that are absolutely faith based words. In this chapter Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a Godly duel of power exhibitions and demonstrations. This was an exhibited display of the confidence that Elijah had in his God’s ability. Why were there 450 prophets of Baal in the camp of Israel? Why did Israel put any of their confidence in these false religions and religious leaders? That is a very good question to consider! In this chapter Elijah calls down the fire of God to consume the sacrifices that were drowned in water first. Keep in mind we have just had a drought of over 3 years long and Elijah is pouring water on his altar. Does this sound like the actions of a man in a drought? Here we see in chapter 17 that Elijah told the king that it will not rain for my words and then in chapter 18 and verse 41 Elijah says that he hears the sound of the abundance of rain. Yet it has not rained a drop in over 3 years. Is this a problem? Or can you see that what Elijah is doing is what God did in Genesis 1? I’m going to ask you this more than once today; are you a man or a woman that is also like Elijah? You should really read James 5 a few hundred times before you answer that question.
1Ki 18:43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
These lessons found in the life of Elijah are very profound. Elijah told Ahab there was a sound of rain when there was no rain. Then Elijah tells his servant to go and look for the rain and the servant comes back and reports he did not find any rain and Elijah tells him to go and look seven more times. What is Elijah doing? Is there anything that you should learn when faced with a drought in your life?
1Ki 18:44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
So the seventh time the servant went to look to the sea, he comes back to Elijah and tells him that he saw a small cloud coming out of the sea. Do you understand how rain is formed? These are the water cycles of the earth’s evaporation from the seas that forms clouds and then the weather patterns that carries this moisture in the atmosphere to then fall back down to the earth as rain? Here we have Elijah knowing how this weather phenomenon works before there were any modern weather forecasters. What was Elijah doing? Do you remember what Elijah said in 1 Kings 17:1? Elijah told the king that the rain would obey his words. Elijah said that it would not rain for these years until he said it would rain. The prophets of Baal and the things that God did to them were some of the reasons that Elijah could make these claims that God could back his words, but this is the lesson that Elijah and God is trying to teach us today. I believe that this lesson applies to us in the modern world. Elijah said he heard rain when there was not rain then said go and look for the rain until they say a cloud form.
1Ki 18:45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
So what is God trying to say to us? Elijah said it would not rain and it did not rain, Elijah then said it would rain and it did rain a bunch. I did not see one time in these two chapters of 1 Kings, where it said Elijah prayed for no rain or rain. Only James calls what Elijah did prayer and that is a very profound revelation. I only saw one time where it could be implied that Elijah may have asked God for rain and this was in verse 42:
1Ki 18:42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
You can clearly see in this verse that Elijah assumed a position of humility and this is associated with an attitude of prayerful inclination towards God. However, I’m going to be really picky and tell you that it does not say Elijah prayed and it does not give us any words of prayer that Elijah said to God. So what do we do with this lack of information? We can assume that Elijah prayed and God thought that this prayer was not important enough to include in the Bible or we can assume that Elijah didn’t pray like we think of prayer and then we have to go back to James and figure out how did James know that Elijah did pray since God does not say he did in 1 Kings? Did James assume like others or did God teach James a greater definition of what prayer was? You also have to understand that God told Elijah that it was going to rain in 1 King 18:1 so why pray for what God has already said will happen. Do you understand this concept? I believe that these two chapters of 1 Kings should expand our definition of what prayer is in the eyes of God. Your words are heard by God and then God uses these to fulfill what you have said. I know that does not go over big with everyone, but I believe this is what God is saying.
So how do you apply this story of Elijah to us today? I believe that it crosses over into many things that we do in many ways. A couple of years ago the region of the country where I lived was going through a drought situation that was becoming significantly greater. Over the course of a few months, the lake levels had dropped lower than they had been since I lived here. Water rationing was mandatory and you could not water you grass or outdoor plants, wash your cars or do things to waste water. It was getting crazy here so I finally decided to do something about it. That sounds pretty arrogant doesn’t it? That statement makes me sound like I am God or something. However, I learned from the story of Elijah the principles given to us from James that I could do what Elijah did. So one day during the drought I looked out at the clear blue sky and started talking to the weather patterns, jet streams, pressure zones and the climatological situations to change in order to bring us rain on my house and city. So did it change overnight? Like the story of Elijah I went out and looked at the sky several times before it finally rained but then the drought was over and it rained a bunch. You see I believed the Word of God was true and that what God said Elijah did, I could do. I never prayed a prayer and asked God to send rain; I only looked out at the problem and spoke to it to change to bring me rain. You of course could say that this was just an amazing coincidence that I did what I did at just the right time before it rained or you can look at the Bible and declare with me that God is not a liar. After over 3 years of no rain Elijah said he heard the sound of an abundance of rain and after a few more days it occurred. So either what happened to Elijah was an amazing coincidence also or you are just stupid and don’t want to see what God is saying in the Bible to us. Here is a verse found in the Bible that directly applies to what we just read about in the life of Elijah:
Mar 11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Jesus makes a radical statement here that most religious people readily reject. Jesus says if you speak to a mountain and believe what you say will come to pass, it will happen. So is speaking to rain any different than speaking to a mountain? Are they not both inanimate objects without the ears for hearing? However Jesus clearly implies that they can hear in this verse found in Mark. This is a paradox of Biblical proportions. You see if you are a commander in the army and issue an order you just expect it to be obeyed and carried out. This is the same type of reasoning that Jesus is giving to us in this verse in Mark 11:23. Jesus is implying that the mountain is waiting for an order to obey in order to be moved. If no order is given, then no movement is made. If you speak to it and tell it to go and believe what you say will happen, then Jesus clearly said the order will be carried out. You are not concerned with how it is carried out, only the fact that it happens like you said. Mountains can be symbolic representations of problems in your life, even like a real drought. Can you see how this verse applies to what Elijah said in 1 Kings? Everything that Elijah said was what happened in the earth, because he believed it would happen. Elijah obviously believed in his words and they came to pass just as he had spoken. God called this prayer in James 5 and you should understand this drastically changes what we should be saying in our daily lives. Too many Christians pray and ask God for help and then go around speaking the opposite of what they prayed. It would sound like to me based upon what we learned from Elijah that these words cancel each other out. If you pray for God to help pay your bills and then look at your bills and say I can’t pay you, then you have canceled your prayer out. What we have learned in the story of Elijah is God’s definition of prayer is much greater than our definition of prayer. Your words of prayer could be the words that you speak to a king in the earth and tell him that it will not rain for your words. These are powerful concepts that are being transferred to us from God and if you get a hold of them they will change what comes out of your mouth. So I’ll end this lesson with this question again; Are you like an Elijah? God Bless!
Posted on November 6, 2010, in Bible Study, Understanding, Words and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Holy Spirit, Interpretation, Jesus, Prophecy, Revelation, Symbolism, Truth, understanding, Words. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.