1 Kings 18:41-48 (Part 1) – Just Keep Praying, Just Keep Praying, Just Keep Prayiiiing!

Posted: March 1, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 18:41-48 (Part 1 of 2)

Elijah Prays for Rain

Bible texts come to our minds, such as Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you”…  Will He really answer when we call? Isaiah 65:24 says “Before you call I will answer, while you are still speaking, I will hear.” In this passage, we see Elijah pray the same prayer seven (7) times. Yes, that’s right. This man of God has to pray to God 7 times for the same thing. Why would God wait to answer our prayers?  Wouldn’t we expect that since God is all-powerful that He would answer immediately?  What is the purpose for God’s delaying our prayer requests?

You hear stories of Christian parents praying for their unsaved children to come to salvation in Jesus Christ for years and years and sometimes decades. I once read an article about the mother of Terry Williams. Year after year her son was rebellious.  He abused drugs, was in and out of jail, and showed no signs of ever knowing Christ.  The days and years dragged on with absolutely no indication that there was anything different in the man‘s life.  Then one day, 28 years after his mother first prayed for him, this man came to a saving faith in Christ.  Today this man, Terry Williams, uses his testimony to help other prison inmates find their way to a relationship with the only One Who can save: Jesus Christ.  What if this mother had given up?  What if she decided it was not important enough to keep praying each and every day?  What a difference this mother made in her steadfast prayers due to her undying love for her son.   Today her son is making an eternal difference for others in prison.  This was all due to prayer.  Even though she had to wait. I know many parents who have prayed for years and years for their kids to come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. I am sure that my own mother and father did the same thing when it came to me.

I understand that when we pray for the salvation of unsaved friends or family members that it may take a mighty long time for their hearts to be open to the gospel message because of the rebellion in their souls. But what about those who are faithful servants of God. Why does God often take so long to answer the prayers of the saved, of those who are humble servants of the Lord? We see Elijah here. He has to pray 7 times for the same thing. Why? At least, though, his prayer was answered the same day. What about those that suffered for long periods of time in the Bible before their prayers were answered.

Look at Joseph. He was in prison for a long time for a crime that he did not commit against Potiphar’s wife. Some scholars believe that it was as long as twelve (12) years. Though the Bible does not specifically tell us how long, these scholars can deduce how old he was when he was sold into slavery and so on. Regardless, the biblical evidence was that he was in prison for a long, long time, especially in the light that it was a crime that he did not commit. As we know, the biblical record does not record the happenings of every minute of every day of the central characters. It gives us important events in their lives and how the biblical characters reacted to them and how these events demonstrated God’s grace and God’s glory. We do not see every minute of every day of Joseph’s 12 years in prison. From the biblical record in Genesis we see that Joseph was faithful and became so trusted by his jailors that he became the head trustee of the inmates. That’s the part that we read. I am sure though that during those 12 years that Joseph had his days of wondering why God was not answering his prayers for deliverance. I am sure that he had days where he was internally just angry at the lack of response. I am sure that he set alone in his cell at night at times and wondered if this nightmare was ever going to end. But the reason the story is in the Bible is the fact that Joseph kept at it regardless of circumstance or surroundings. He remained faithful even when his bones ached and his heart was dull from the sameness and the lack of change.

Think of Jacob. Laban offered his nephew Jacob a place to stay. Jacob soon fell in love with Laban’s younger daughter, Rachel, and agreed to work for Laban seven years in exchange for marriage to her (Genesis 29:16–20). Laban agreed, but after seven years, he deceived Jacob. On the night that Jacob and Rachel were to be married, Laban gave Rachel’s older sister, Leah, to him as a wife instead. Jacob protested, but Laban argued that it wasn’t the custom to give the younger daughter in marriage first. So it was official: Jacob and Leah were to stay married. Laban then said Jacob could still have Rachel in exchange for another seven years of work (Genesis 29:21–30). So, Jacob worked for 7 years to receive his promise and when it is done, he finds out that he is only half way there. He had to work another 7 years. Have you ever been in a situation where you put in all the work and make sacrifices and then when you get there, you find out that the waiting is only partially complete? I am sure that Jacob wondered what God was doing when he did what he had to do but then pushed the target out again. Jacob remained faithful though and did another 7 years labor and he finally received his promise. I bet though during the first year or so after the first 7 years, he was dismayed and heavy hearted. But the reason the story is in the biblical record is that he did not give up on his prayers while waiting on God to deliver the promise.

That was the idea that stuck in my heart this morning. You know how you read a Bible passage and it raises a question in your mind that you just can’t get past. A question that ruminates through your soul as you read the passage and you can’t focus on anything else that the passage says. That is where I am at this morning as I read this passage for the first time of two readings of it that I have planned. Why is it that God makes even his devoted followers wait on the answers to prayer at times? Let’s read today’s passage, 1 Kings 18:41-48, with that in mind before we do anything else with this passage:

41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”

42 So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.

43 Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.”

The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.”

Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. 44 Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”

Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

45 And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. 46 Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt[a] and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.

In the website, All About Prayer, I found the following commentary on our subject this morning:

Growing up, I often asked myself impatiently, “How can I keep faith while waiting on God to answer prayers?” As I have grown older (and hopefully wiser), God has shown me through His Word how to wait on His timing. Only God can see the big picture. He has planned out everything to intertwine perfectly in the end. Part of His plan includes working through our prayers. We pray, yet we doubt He hears us. He has promised, however, to hear His children. Although He hears us, He doesn’t always give the response we expect or the answer on our timetable. In God’s eyes, it is a breath (2 Peter 3:8). His time is not our time.

When waiting on God to answer prayers, we must believe God will answer. Unbelief is the biggest obstacle to overcome in praying and waiting. “But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

While waiting on God to answer prayers, take stock of your blessings. Are you breathing? Then, rejoice in life! Do you see the blue sky or even a cloudy one? Thank God for the ability to see. Can you hear the sound of the wind blowing through the trees or a child laughing? Praise God for hearing! Turn the wait into a treasure hunt for the blessings that we often take for granted. For remembrance, keep a prayer journal, listing all your prayers with the date of request. Frequently lift up the requests to God, and record the date you received an answer.

Never forget that answers come in God’s time — not ours. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” God has promised His own a hopeful future. Rest in God’s faithfulness. He will answer you.

Taking stock of your blessings was exactly what my wife said to me this morning. We had just woke up and were laying bed just talking before we got up on our first day of our weekend (for us, we have our weekend on Friday and Saturday since we work at a church). We were just laying there talking about how sometimes we get so focused on other things that we forget the accumulation of small blessings that we do have – a roof over our head, a good marriage, good friends, people that love and care about you and what happens to you, people that are praying for you. So no matter what we are going through and ever how long it takes for God to answer prayers that there are so many things to be truly thankful for.

Sure, we can have doubts and even anger. Sometimes, the prayer takes a while to be worked out so that answer CAN be given, like in Joseph’s case. Sometimes, the finish line, like in Jacob’s case, is not where you thought it was going to be and it is yet still further away. Sometimes, the waiting is God’s way of allowing us to align our persistent prayers into His perfect and good will. Sometimes, it is a test of faithfulness. The reason that Elijah prayers were offered up repeatedly seven times was a testament to his faithfulness in God. He simply knew that God was going to answer his prayer. He was doing God’s will so he knew that the answer would come. He had faith and trust in God.

That’s the thing that I want us to take away this morning is that we must trust God with our earnest prayers. We must have faith that He will answer – even if it takes a lot longer than we want it to in this microwave, instant potatoes world in which we live. We must have patience. We must be like Elijah, Joseph and Jacob. You just keep plowing the field in front of you as you offer up your persistent prayers to the Lord. You keep being faithful. Even if your circumstances are less than ideal, you still have much to be thankful for – our salvation, our relationship with Jesus, our friends, our family, and God’s provision for the moment. We must trust that God will provide for us as He is working out the answer to our earnest prayers for His deliverance.

The reason that the story of Elijah’s seven prayers for the same thing all afternoon is in the Bible is that He remained faithful, he trusted God would answer no matter how many times he had to pray the same prayer. His faithfulness in prayer was answered in God’s timing. The proof is in the pudding. Elijah gained additional proof this day that faithfulness and persistence in prayer reflects our trust in the Lord. Even when we grow impatient, we keep plugging away in prayer and we trust in the Lord.

The same is true of Joseph with his long-term incarceration. He kept honoring God with what was placed in front of him. Sure, there were times I bet that Joseph wondered about the state of his life. But he kept plugging away. He kept praying. He kept honoring God. He kept trusting that God would eventually deliver him. There was always that hope, bolstered through prayer, that God will answer. We trust Him with our persistent prayers and do our best to leave it with Him and trust Him with it.

The same is true of Jacob. He had done all the things that he was supposed to do for seven years and then he finds out that the work is only half way there. The finish line of receiving the promise was farther away than he had originally suspected. Sometimes, God lets us see only the steps in front of us so that we will move forward. Sometimes, if we know the true time table we might get dismayed and give up. Sometimes, we just have to keep being faithful with what God has revealed so far. Keep plowing the field in front of you until God reveals the answer. Jacob kept plugging away. Jacob did not give up and walk away. He kept moving forward in trust in the Lord that the promise would be delivered. He firmly believed that even though the finish line was further away than he had originally thought, that God would answer his prayers. Just like Dory on Finding Nemo, we must “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming” and trust that God will answer your earnest and godly prayers.

Like Elijah’s seven times, we just keep praying. Just keep praying. Just keep praying. Just keep praying. Just keep praying. Just keep praying. Just keep praying. Whether its 7 times in an afternoon. Whether it takes 7 days or 7 weeks or 7 years or 7 decades. Just keep praying. Trust God. Be faithful. Keep plowing. He hears you. He will answer in His timing and in the way that gives glory to His Kingdom. In the meantime, be thankful and see your blessings and keep walking with the Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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