Study 6 A SOUND OF ABUNDANCE OF RAIN
(Scripture Portions: 1 Kings 18: 41-46; James 5: 16-18
When Elijah told Ahab that there was a sound of abundance of rain (KJV), there had as yet been no sound audible to the human ear. Elijah had only heard this sound by the hearing of faith – look up Galatians 3:2, and compare Psalm 25:14; Amos 3:7; Acts 22:9.
1 Kings 18 records two prayers that Elijah prayed: one was in public – for fire (verses 36-37), and the other was in private – for water (verses 42-46). In this study we shall look at Elijah on the mountain top, alone with God and praying for the showers to be poured out upon the thirsty land. What kind of prayer was this prayer?
1. IT WAS A PRAYER OF FAITH, FOR IT RESTED UPON GOD’S OWN SURE PROMISE
When we pray we need to make sure that our petition is founded upon the promise of God, so that we are praying in accordance with His will. Without such a promise we may well demand things contrary to His will, which will therefore be presumptuous and not the prayer of faith at all. For 3 ½ years there had been no rain; now Elijah goes before the Lord and asks Him to send the rain. Upon what ground did he make this prayer? – upon the ground of God’s own sure promise – look up 1 Kings 18:1. God had said to Elijah, “I will send rain…”, and now Elijah asked Him to do that which was clearly His will. Answers to prayer are conditional upon our praying in accordance with God’s will. We can know His will and be sure of it, for He reveals it by His Word and by the Holy Spirit – look up 1 John 5:14-15, and compare Romans 8:26-27. Why did Elijah need to pray for rain if it was God’s will to send it? Because God had ordained that it should be so. Read Ezekiel 36:24-38, where the Lord promises to do a great many things, and then in verse 37 He says that He will do them in answer to prayer.
2. IT WAS A PRAYER OFFERED IN THE SECRET PLACE, AWAY FROM THE NOISE AND DISTRACTIONS OF THE WORLD
Verse 42. What a relief for Elijah to get alone in the presence of God after all the noise and excitement he had experienced! – look up Psalm 46:10. But there is more to note here. The Lord Jesus frequently acted upon His own words in Matthew 6:6 – look up Luke 6:12. Prayer can accomplish so very much. How much? Ask James – James 5:16-18.
3. IT WAS A PRAYER WHICH WAS MARKED BY DEEP REVERENCE AND SINCERE HUMILITY
Verse 42. Earlier in the chapter we see Elijah standing with the crowds on Carmel; now we see him before his God, down upon the earth with his face between his knees. We need to be filled with a new realisation of the majesty and holiness of God and of our own littleness and sinfulness – look up and compare Genesis 18:27; Isaiah 6:1-5; Daniel 10:8; 1 Peter 5:5-6. We may come before the Lord with holy boldness (Hebrews 4:16), but we must always come reverently and in deep humility.
4. IT WAS A PRAYER WHICH WAS DEFINITE AND TO THE POINT
See what Zechariah 10:1 says. This is exactly what Elijah did; he only had one petition as he came before the Lord – “Lord, send the rain! Send the rain! Send the rain!” In the Upper Room they prayed for only one thing – the coming of the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:13-14). When Peter was in prison the church prayed for only one thing – his deliverance (Acts 12:5). See also Luke 11:5 and 11-13. Definite, specific prayers bring definite, specific answers!
5. IT WAS A PRAYER WHICH WAS INTENSE, EARNEST AND FERVENT
Notice the words powerful, effective and earnestly in James 5:16-18, and compare Hebrews 5:7. Elijah’s prayer was also accompanied by fasting – 1 Kings 18:41-42. He could quite legitimately have joined Ahab in taking food and drink, but he did not do so – look up Matthew 17:19-21. Do we know anything about fasting? Do we know what it is to sacrifice time, pleasures and legitimate things in order to “pray through” and secure God’s blessing?
6. IT WAS A PRAYER WHICH WAS ACCOMPANIED BY WATCHFULNESS
Look up Colossians 4:2, and compare Psalm 130:5-6 – then read 1 Kings 18:43-45. When we really pray in faith we should already be looking for the answer; even if time and again the reply is, “There is nothing…”, we should go on praying and watching until the answer comes. Would his servant ever forget it? But this also reminds us of one other characteristic of Elijah’s prayer:
7. IT WAS A PRAYER WHICH PERSEVERED UNTIL THE ANSWER CAME
Elijah said to his servant, “Go again…again…again…seven times!” George Muller prayed for 52 years for two of his friends. How such perseverance shames us! – for notice, even Elijah’s prayer was not answered immediately – compare Genesis 32:26 with Psalm 40:1. Then we read: “Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on….” The kind of prayer which is described here and which God invites us to offer, is always answered abundantly – 1 Kings 18:45 “a heavy rain came on.”
Closing Thought: Mark 11:22-24.