Read: James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. 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.
Why would James use such a huge spiritual giant like Elijah if he really wanted to convince me that my prayers can impact others’ lives in a huge and deep fashion? James says, “Elijah was a man like us.” Right, but he was also a prophet, unlike us. He was this deeply anointed guy who stood in the gap when others fled, unlike us. And most of all, he was a prayer warrior who could move mountains, unlike most of us. James is using Elijah for one reason, to convince us that it isn’t about us, it is about the one who died and lives by the power of His Spirit in us. James wants to make clear that prayer is a powerful weapon in the hands of even the humblest believer. It does not require a “super saint” to wield it effectively. It wasn’t Elijah’s office as a prophet that moved mountains and stopped the rain, it was his heart; his humble, yielded, childlike heart. James didn’t use Elijah as his example because he wanted us to be like him, he used Elijah to tell us Elijah was like us, just a guy, a normal person. But James tells us this normal person, “He prayed earnestly” – Proseuche…two Greek words pros = preposition which has to do with proximity…to come towards…move towards God…and Euchomai, to pray or ask or seek in prayer.
It is not Elijah’s special prophetic gifting or unique place in history that interests James, but the fact that he was a man just like uswho felt so strongly about his relationship with God that he could go after Him with boldness. James is trying to convince us to chase hard after God, to come boldly into the throne room of grace and to believe our Father is pleased to meet with us. We are neither a distraction nor an interruption to God. Every one of us has the same possibility as a child of the King as Elijah the great prophet.
A literal interpretation of this verse would say Elijah “prayed with prayer.” Fortunately, most versions of the Bible don’t interpret it this way because it seems to make no sense at all to say “He prayed with prayer.” It leaves me saying, “What?” The verse really means Elijah became the prayer. He was so into what he was praying he bent down and put his face to the ground and he began to cry out to God. He didn’t stop until his prayer was answered. He didn’t just come to the throne of God, he took hold of it and wouldn’t let go. He poured himself into his prayer. This is obviously impossible to do on a daily basis, but what is possible is to come to the Father each day and pursue Him in prayer and then in those trying, upending, overwhelming moments in life when you think you’re going to be swept away, bow down and grab hold of your Father’s heart like Elijah did and watch Him work on your behalf.
Father, forgive me for not believing that you will answer my humble, seemingly small prayers. You’re a God of infinite resource and I am your child. Please remind me of that each day as I come to your throne.