I Want to Pray Like Elijah

Elijah devotional

Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;…” Like Elijah.

James 5:16b-18 (NIV) says “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” Years ago, as a Christian high school student, I memorized part of this scripture in the King James Version: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” I have never forgotten the verse, but I have often forgotten to pray Elijah’s way.

Part of Elijah’s story is found in I Kings 17. Verse 1 says, “… ‘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.’ “ Verse 5 says, “… he (Elijah) did what the Lord had told him.” I am reminded that Elijah’s prayers were initiated and prompted by God, and not by Elijah himself. He was responding to a call. He was obedient. God communicated with Elijah first. Then, Elijah displayed God’s glory as a righteous man who prayed effectively and fervently.

The story of Elijah’s interaction with the Widow at Zarephath (I Kings 17:7-24) indicates that Elijah was sent to the widow by God. God initiated the mission. And, against the widow’s serious doubts, God provided ample flour and oil beyond the almost empty containers she had. She witnessed manna from heaven.

When the widow’s son passed away unexpectedly, Elijah cried out to the Lord, and the Lord resurrected the widow’s son. Elijah was on the spot to pray because he had been sent there by God. It was no coincidence. This was the first resurrection recorded in scripture. In this ancient society, the widow’s son was her only hope for future security, making this miracle especially significant. As a non-Israelite, the widow received a covenant blessing that introduced God’s resurrection power to the world. Elijah was there for a reason. God initiated. Elijah prayed. Resurrection happened.

In I Kings 8, the vision for building the Temple was planted in David’s heart by God, but then carried out later by David’s son Solomon. Another initiation by God. Prayers moved the vision along in unseen ways, at least as far as David was concerned. “Behind the scenes” is a significant place for prayer to occur. Nehemiah 4:13-14 says, “Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’ ”

The rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall revealed an important prayer principle. Effective and fervent prayer always fills the exposed places behind the lowest points, similar to a battle strategy. Prayer protects the vision and enables God’s plans to be carried out wisely and safely. When we are called to pray, we can be sure that God initiated the call and that we’ve been placed in a strategic battle post by Him.

I John 5:14-15 affirms, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.”

Elijah was a man just like us. I want to pray like Elijah – effectively and fervently. And confidently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angry Birds and Duct Tape

Angry Bird Collage

Psalm 37:8 “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.”

Today it was my turn to say “do not fret.” Here I was playing “Angry Birds” (the board game version named after the popular video game) with my 7-year-old granddaughter. After numerous frustrating attempts to construct Level 1 buildings with two especially stubborn plastic game pieces, I said let’s just get a little duct tape and fix these two halves that are supposed to snap together, but don’t. This answer made the game immediately less annoying. Problem solved. The two halves became a whole. Fretting eliminated.

The duct tape helped to make construction with malfunctioning plastic pieces more attainable. An extraordinary “magic fixer” with multiple constructive uses – not just for ducts – Nana’s great “bandaid” momentarily cured all “fret-able” frustrations and permitted tower building to move forward at a reasonable pace. Game on. Rescued at last.

Being the polar opposite of a gamer, and being way out of my league concerning any games (with the exception of “Words With Friends”), I still want to record my impressions. The slingshot demolition objective of the game featured two angry birds – I am guessing Red and Hal? Red or Hal were alternately catapulted by each opponent toward some stacked plastic blocks and characters, including green pigs. Points were gained when the appropriate “angry bird” knocked over the entire stack, which of course, by design, was nearly impossible to accomplish beyond Level 1!

I don’t like the word “angry.” Not because I don’t get angry, but because anger can go south quickly, bearing a destructive connotation. I wonder what a 7-year-old thinks of a game called “Angry Birds.” I wonder what it teaches children about anger…

Scripture has a lot to say about anger. Mainly, be angry, but do not sin. It’s all about what we do with our anger, not that it is wrong to feel angry. I sure don’t want my granddaughter to equate demolition to the normal response of anger, except maybe on I-64 (just kidding). I suggest a name change for the game – to “Flying Birds.” Bring it down a notch.

Now that I reflect on it, I neglected to take advantage of the teachable moment to tell my granddaughter that angry birds, just like angry people, do not accomplish anything good when they go on the attack. I know it’s just a game. Maybe even harmless at times… Still, I pray that all my grandchildren understand God’s heart about anger. Proverbs 29:11 says “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” As God’s image-bearers, let us be encouraged to take on the character of Christ described in Exodus 34:6 which explains, “…The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, (is) slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

 

 

 

Plausible Lies

RADAR Collage

Background Photo Credit – Kim Clayton Lance

Psalm 37:1 “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”

I am generally not shocked by lies unless they come from within the tried and tested Christian community. Still evil. Never mind. I am not shocked.

I look in the mirror. I can’t throw the first stone, I wouldn’t even think of trying to throw the first stone. I have spun facts and omitted truths ever since I was old enough to try to manipulate authority to believe that I am not guilty. The biggest lies are the ones we say to ourselves when we look in the mirror. And then we presume to help others in their struggles to have the mind of Christ? But our own plausible lies are still hanging out there in the way.

But, when we absorb God’s Word to a healthy saturation, we can be better at detecting deception – especially self-deception. You would hope. I saw a post from “God’s Word (FB)” today (6-25-16) that said, “Fill your mind with God’s Word and you will have no room for Satan’s lies.” Of course, I gave this my usual “thumbs up,” and then remembered something else that I read today from Paul David Tripp’s book INSTRUMENTS IN THE REDEEMER’S HANDS…

Tripp pointed out that there is often a disconnect between our interpretation of circumstances and our response to circumstances. As God’s ambassadors, this is especially problematic. Especially if we are trying to help others to confront unhealthy things in their lives before we confront unhealthy things in our own lives. Often, our response is to self-excuse or self-atone ourselves, even as well-seasoned believers, thereby disqualifying ourselves from confronting others through graciously speaking the truth in love.

There is always this door of decision. There is always the radar of God’s Word for exposing deception. A Garden of Eden moment. Be very aware of the plausible lie. The lie that starts out with something true and good, and then gets a big perverted twist. Be very aware of how a lie gains power by flying largely undetected. Flying under the radar. Spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning…

Here is the truth. I Peter 3:8-17 “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble…Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech…Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have…It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

Be prepared. Examine your own heart. Look for the plausible lies. Wrench away from plausible lies through God’s enabling power. Don’t be like the grass that withers away either. Don’t be shocked by evil; be sober. Let God prepare you to be an effective ambassador. There is always a door of decision. There is always the radar of God’s Word. Soak in it with a heart of repentance.

And do not fret.