Pray Like Elijah

James shares a powerful vision of the church as a people of prayer. He sees them gathering together to pray over the sick, confessing sin, and seeing people healed and restored. He sees the church as a pivotal place of prayer where God is working.

"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." James 5:13–20 (ESV)

James casts a vision for the church of fervent, effective prayer where the power of God is changing the lives of people in pivotal moments.

Think of how critical a prayer life like that would be for your family.
But a scenario like that seems so unusual, as if it were something that could be experienced by only the super spiritual of God’s people. We don’t think of ourselves as capable of prayer like that. It’s certainly rare in our times.

But James draws a parallel that is meant to encourage regular people like us to pray like that. Did you catch the part about Elijah?

When I read that it doesn’t exactly encourage me to pray. James likens us to Elijah? Of all people Elijah? If the verse said, “Peter or Thomas or Samson or any of the other people with glaring lapses of moral and faith was a man with a nature like ours” then you may have something. But Elijah? Elijah was one of the most powerful men of God in the Bible.

So why does the Bible encourage us to pray like Elijah? What made him one of the most powerful praying prophets of the Bible? The answer may surprise you.


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