Pastoral Perspectives

Aftermath Of Mount Carmel (Part 2)

In my last perspective entitled Aftermath of Mt Carmel part 1, I addressed issues concerning prophets and prophecies in response to questions raised following the sermons on Elijah. Questions were also asked about the way the prophet prayed. There were two incidents in which the prophet’s postures were different but the outcome was the same, i.e. God answered them both. I suppose the prophet’s postures were different because the circumstances were different. And because the circumstances were different, they show us how we may also approach God in prayer under similar circumstances. Let us look at the first for this perspective.

It happened when the child of the widow died (1 Kings 17:17-24). It came probably as a shock to the prophet because God had only told him about the jar and jug. And it was a challenge for him as well because the widow accused him for coming to bring her sins to remembrance. What did Elijah do? He laid the boy on the bed in the upper room where he lodged, questioned God about it, stretched himself upon the boy three times and cried out to God to restore his life. And we read that God listened to the voice of Elijah and the boy was revived. So was that stretching exercise the secret to getting prayers answered, like how Jabez’s prayer was once sold to be? I do not know why Elijah did what he did and I suspect he would be scratching his head and pulling his hair should it become another bestseller.

What I do learn from the prophet is that when we find ourselves in similar dire circumstances beyond our understanding and not knowing what else we can do, well, we can go to our own upper room, i.e. away from people yet in the presence of God, where we can question the Almighty and cry out to him if we must or bang our heads and beat our chests if it helps to settle us down. I do not think God would mind us behaving like little children before him because we are. But I am not suggesting that we can therefore come to God in such manner at any other times, like our daily QT. Remember, it is under dire circumstances where we are left helpless and clueless.

But will God hear and answer us? Elijah was cited by the apostle James as an example of a righteous man whose prayer has great working (James 5:16-18) while Jabez was mentioned as a man more honourable than his brothers (1 Chronicles 4:9). I believe God answered their prayers because they were righteous and honourable and not because they followed certain praying styles or recited certain magical prayer that would bind the hands of the Almighty. It is the pagans that do such things! People of such godly nature will seek God when they face dire circumstances and God answers their prayers because it is also in their nature to honour his will.

So can we say that we are righteous and honourable before God? If we are, God will also hear and answer our prayers. In Elijah’s case, it was God’s will for the boy to be revived so that the widow might know that the prophet was a true man of God and that God is therefore true. The accusation that Elijah got from her did not matter much to the prophet compared to the glory given to God. But God’s ways are often not our ways and so we may find deliverance in ways we least expect. So let us not expect God to deliver or vindicate us immediately of any wrong done to us. If others were to acknowledge that we are truly Christians because of the ways we conduct ourselves throughout the ordeal, that alone brings glory to God and should matter more to us than bruised ego and hurt pride which God will restore in his good timing. So that the lesson I have from Elijah on the art of praying before the Almighty under dire circumstances. I suppose I have to leave the other for the next perspective!

Rev Ronnie Ang

May 29, 2016