Updated: Aug 1
There is a beautiful passage in the epistle of James (Yaakov) that encourages us to pray, to pray hard, to pray like Elijah… and if we do, our prayers can change the heavens and change history as Elijah’s did.
Let’s assume that Elijah was a greater man of faith than you or I. The Bible also says that John the Baptist came in the same spirit and power of Elijah. And that John was the greatest human that ever lived (Matthew 11:11). So, John was like Elijah but even greater.
However, in comparison to John, Yeshua said that even the “least believer” in the kingdom of God is of greater stature than John or Elijah (Matthew 11:11). This is like a parable of a basketball player and an elevator. A basketball player might be almost twice your height, but if you take an elevator to a higher level, than you are “taller” than he is.
John and Elijah might be greater than you or I in their personal human stature, but we have an advantage of being born again into a higher status. Although we are less, we can still be more. What grace! We are not talking about human ability but about access and position through faith in Yeshua (Ephesians 1:19-21; 2:6, 18).
The fifth chapter of James speaks of prayer 7 -8 times. Some of the prayers are of intercession, some of repentance, some of reconciliation, some with the elders, some with oil, some for healing and some by faith. The conclusion speaks of the effectiveness of energetic prayer.
James 5:16-18 (NKJV)
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
The “effective fervent” type prayer in verse 16 in Greek is energeo, from which we have the word energy or energetic. The Elijah-type prayer is energetic. It is not lazy or half-hearted. It is intense and demands the total effort and focus of the person praying.
In Acts 12, James (Yaakov) the son of Zebedee was arrested. I imagine the local community of faith was praying for him. But he was killed by Herod. Then Peter was arrested. Apparently, the congregation prayed much harder, “fervently, without ceasing” (Acts 12:5). This time Peter was supernaturally released by intervention of angels.
There is prayer that may have good intention, but for a given circumstance it is not activated with enough “faith energy” to produce the needed results. It was said of Elijah that he prayed again and again, seven times, in one prayer until he saw the breakthrough of a small cloud, shaped like a hand, appearing on the horizon (I Kings 18:42-44).
The prayer must not only be “energetic” in order to be effective, it must also be prayed by righteous people. We must repent of our sins, keep a loving and forgiving heart, walk in humility and boldness, be led by the Holy Spirit, and be submitted to the Word of God and the lordship of Yeshua.
We do not have to be stressed out about being righteous enough, because we receive imparted-righteousness by faith in the blood of Yeshua. We need to stay in that mental attitude of grace righteousness while we pray. We have zero pride and zero self-righteousness. Yet we do have confidence in the righteousness purchased for us by the blood of the Lamb.
Verse 17 says that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. The Greek word is homoiopathés, a person of the same passions and feelings we have. While we certainly have great respect for Elijah, the point of the passage here is to exhort us to do what he did. We are to follow his example; do it ourselves; not to wait around for someone else to come.
[This is one of the reasons I firmly disagree with the interpretation that Elijah himself will come back to prophesy in the end times. He had his time. We are to look to his example and pray like him. There will be another person; or all of us together will pray and prophesy in the pattern we see in the “spirit and power” of Elijah (Luke 1:17). We are to be activated to do it ourselves.]
Verse 17 states that Elijah prayed earnestly. The Greek actually says “prayed prayed” – proseuchomai proseuche. I suppose we could translate that as “pray doubly hard”. Verse 18 says he prayed “again”, which we noticed in I Kings 18 was actually 7 times. We could say: keep praying repeatedly, no matter what it takes, until the results are produced.
And what powerful results they were! He stopped the rains for three and a half years, and then released the rains. What is often more important for us than rain is spiritual rain or spiritual power. Yeshua gave us “kingdom keys”, to open and close the heavens (Matthew 16:19). Each of us can potentially do this, in the name of Yeshua.
We should pray every day to open, open, open the gates of heaven and to close, close, close the gates of hell in any area connected to our lives. We receive all the pure influences of heaven and reject all the evil influences of hell.
We want results. Our prayers can avail much (verse 16 above). As Elijah prayed and got results of rain, we will pray until we get spiritual “rain-like” results in our lives. Praying like Elijah can even “restore all things” (Matthew 17:11). So, let’s pray doubly hard, like Elijah, and see an open heaven around us.