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Elijah wanted to give up and die. Can you relate?

03/10/2015

In 1 Kings you can find my favorite biblical event, outside of Jesus’ resurrection.  Take a moment to look up 1 Kings 18:1-45, it is not very long, but it is terrific!  If you knew the whole background, you would understand how great this story is.  Someday maybe you will want to know more…..

At any rate, right after God showed himself in such a powerful fashion, Elijah demonstrated just how human he was – he ran and hid.  You see Jezebel, a very wicked woman, and queen of the Israelites, had killed over 500 prophets of God.  Elijah was one of the few left.  After God demonstrated that he was real and the god Baal was not, the people had revolted against the queen’s god Baal, and killed all the prophets of Baal.  Now Jezebel wanted Elijah DEAD!  So, what does the prophet of the all-powerful God do? He runs away.  Amazing, but what Jezebel wanted, she usually got, and she wanted him dead.

Exhausted from running, and depressed that this great witness to God’s greatness and supremacy did not change the Israelites and turn them back to God, he sits down and prays.

1 Kings 19:4 He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

(Translation:  “I am worthless God.  I tried.  I worked hard, spoke often, and always reminded the people about your promises, but they would not listen to me any more than they did to the prophets before me.  I am tired God. I fought the good fight, but I lost.”)

He wanted to die.  He felt worthless and dried up.  It is this prayer that has much to teach us about God and prayer.

Did God hear his prayer?  Yes.

Did God answer his prayer?   Yes

Did God answer “no”?  No

So God end his life?  No

What?!?  Yep, God hear his prayer, but did not kill Elijah.  God answered Elijah’s prayer in a way Elijah could never have imagined.

2 Kings  2:11-12 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more.

Elijah prayed for death.  God heard his prayer, but chose to answer it in a way that did not include death.   God chose to take him directly into  heaven.

(God can do such things, if it is his will.  In the Old Testament we see that God stopped time so that the Israelites could win a battle, he brought people back to life, he provided for a widow’s financial need by miraculously filling her bottles with oil she could sell, and so much more.  In the New Testament, we see that Jesus, God with us, stopped storms, raised the dead, turned water into wine, and much more. Keep in mind God is sovereign over all his creation.)

I heard Sam Kee, pastor from the Northern suburbs of Chicago, and author of a book called “Soul Tatoo: A Life And Spirit Bearing the Marks of God,” on Moody radio last week. He used the example of Elijah’s prayer to teach us an important truth about prayer.

Below is part of that radio blog, The Suicide Prayer, which aired on March 5, 2015.

Here’s the lesson:  pray, but don’t trust your prayers.  Trust God.

Don’t trust how you see things; trust how God sees things.  Don’t trust your pleas; but trust his promises.

God loves you and he will correct your prayers.  He will even protect you from your own prayers.  Don’t be disappointed in God, but be disappointed in your prayers.  Our vision is clouded by tears, but God can see the chariot that awaits us.

Some things in your life don’t need to be killed. They just need to be placed into the right hands.

If we pray for God to do something, and expect that he will just because we asked, is like thinking of God as our servant, there to do our bidding at all times. Yes Jesus said if we ask in his name he will do it, but look at the quote a bit closer. We need to consider the context of that statement.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:12-14)

Jesus is speaking to his disciples and explaining that those who believe in him will do great things in their service to God, even to the point of doing greater things than Jesus. I believe “greater” means “more” not “better.” As we serve him in the place where God has placed us, we may turn to Jesus in prayer and ask for something. For example, a Christian wants to speak to a co-worker about Christ. That co-worker has been pretty out spoken about the Bible being a bunch of fables. The Christian prays and asks Christ to open the person’s heart and mind to hear the truth of the Gospel. He or she may pray this once or for a long time, but knows that this is within the will of God, and Jesus will do it.

A fitting time to remind you of a quotation from Isaiah.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Thank you God for taking our prayers and molding them to fit what is best for us and for your plan for our lives. We continue to pray, and trust you with the answers. Amen

From → Spirituality

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