The Prayer Of Faith
Last week I shared the story of how the Lord used supernatural signs with rain to point us to focus on the story of Elijah. We had experiences both with it raining supernaturally inside, and with it not raining although there was rain all around. These experiences were triggered by thinking about what scripture says in James chapter five about Elijah. The signs also pointed us toward meditating more on these scriptures. Here they are, in context:
James 5:14-18 (NRSV) Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, 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 the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
A Man Just Like Us
James says that Elijah was a man just like us. A lot of times we may feel like we don’t have the same superhuman kind of faith that Elijah and other great “men of God” had. But these men had the same weaknesses as we did. Even Jesus was tempted in every way as we are. (Hebrews 4:15) But God brought strength out of their weakness, and he can do the same for you! I remember when I first started to see healing miracles happen. I was convinced that God wanted to heal people, but I felt like I was far too weak and discouraged, and just couldn’t believe. I felt like my faith was a failure. But I believed that God could do the impossible of bringing me to a place where I would be able to have faith for people to be healed. And He brought power out of my weakness, and I began to see miracles happen much sooner than I expected! God can do what you can’t! He can work faith in you even though you may feel that you are powerless to believe! Not only that, he promises to work in you, enabling you to will and to work for His good pleasure! (Philippians 2:13)
The Story Of Elijah
Notice that the context in James 5, where it talks about asking God for rain, is especially in relation to healing. This is actually the only place in the New Testament that commands us to pray for the sick. Although we often may talk about praying for the sick, we don’t read about Jesus praying for the sick in scripture. Jesus did pray—sometimes he stayed up praying all night. But when he encountered the sick, he healed them. Jesus never commanded his disciples to pray for the sick either. He commanded them to lay hands on the sick, anoint them with oil, cast out demons, and heal them. But let’s go back to look at the story of Elijah in 1 Kings chapter 17 and 18, which James is referring to here. We will see from this story that the prayer of faith is accompanied by action and declaration.
1 Kings 17:1 (NRSV) Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
James says that Elijah prayed and it did not rain for three and a half years. But when we read the story in 1 Kings we see that Elijah did not only pray—he boldly declared God’s word. After this, God supernaturally provided for Elijah during the drought. We read of that provision in the rest of chapter 17.
1 Kings 18:1-2 (NRSV) After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year of the drought, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab; I will send rain on the earth.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
Following this, we read of the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, where God answered by fire and consumed not only Elijah’s sacrifice, but the wood, the stones, the dust, and the water in the trench around it. After that, the nation turned to God and they killed the prophets of Baal. And then:
1 Kings 18:41 (NRSV) Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain.”
There was still no natural sign of rain. Elijah heard the sound of a rushing rain by faith, because God spoke to him. So before he even prayed, Elijah declared God’s word as a fact. Romans 4:17(ASV) says that God “giveth life to the dead, and calleth the things that are not, as though they were.” We also have been given the same spirit of faith so that as God does, we will call things that our not as though they were.
2 Corinthians 4:13(NRSV)…we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak…
The prayer of faith that Elijah prayed involved calling things that were not as though they were. Every natural sign showed that any possibility of rain was “dead.” But Elijah spoke as a fact “there is a sound of rushing rain.” He said it before there was any natural way to sense rain. He was not speaking based on physical senses but based on God’s word.
1 Kings 18:42-46 (NRSV) So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. He said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” He went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” Then he said, “Go again seven times.” At the seventh time he said, “Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.” Then he said, “Go say to Ahab, ‘Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was a heavy rain. Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel. But the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Again, Elijah did not pay attention to what his natural senses said, but to Gods word. When there was no natural sign, he sent the servant to look again. As soon as there was the slightest natural sign of rain, Elijah declared “go down before the rain stops you!” Elijah declared what would happen according to the word of the Lord both before and after he prayed. This is what the prayer of faith looks like. Consider the following scriptures:
James 1:6 (KJV) But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Ephesians 6:13-14 (NIV) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…
This is what the prayer of faith looks like. It calls what is not as though it was, according to the word of the Lord. It declares and continues to pray and expect, even when there is no natural sign of fulfillment. And then as soon as there is a little sign of rain, faith rejoices and declares God’s word again. Elijah stood firm on God’s word and did not waver even when there was no natural sign of anything coming to pass.
When I first started to get into healing, if I laid my hands on a person and they didn’t feel anything, I often gave up too soon. But the more I went, I began to grow in faith. There was a reality that I knew and felt in my spirit even when there was no natural sign. I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through me and just knew that God’s word was the reality, even when the person I had my hands on still did not feel it naturally.
I remember when a man I knew brought me his wife with large and very painful ovarian cysts. I could see the pain on her face. I put my hand behind her back and commanded them to be gone. She didn’t feel any change. But I knew that God’s word was true. I could feel the peace of God around me. And so I prayed again. I asked if she felt anything. She said no. So I prayed again, waited and asked again. This happened several times. It was just like Elijah telling his servant to go look for a sign of rain, but he saw nothing.
For ten minutes she felt nothing. Before I would have given up by then. But I had grown in Christ and been strengthened in my innermost being by the Holy Spirit. So I continued, full of the peace of God, feeling grace exploding from my heart.
Then after ten minutes, she felt a little bit of heat in her ovaries. Yay! I started to rejoice just like Elijah did when a little cloud the size of a man’s hand came from the sea. Just a little sign, and he said “go down before the rain stops you!” Just a little sign, and I said “Yay! You are being healed.”
And when I thanked God the heat increased more and more, until soon there was not more pain or tenderness. The cysts were gone, and she didn’t need surgery! Thank you God for your rain!
You might be a weak human being like Elijah, who was a man just like us. But the spirit of Christ dwells in you, if you are his! And God will work faith in you and enable you to believe if you just say yes and cry out “God, I want your rain!” God, I believe; help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24, NRSV)
The context in James 5 shows us how God’s rain relates to the prayer of faith for healing. We see that in the only place the Bible commands us to pray for the sick, declaration and action in faith are also involved. And the story in 1 Kings shows us that asking for God’s rain is also about us having faith for our nations to be saved. Elijah was a man just like us, and he led a nation to reject Baal and return to the Lord. Get your eyes off our your weaknesses and failures, and remember that if God could do that with a man like Elijah, He can do it with you!
Revelation 11:15 (NRSV) The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah
Habakkuk 2:14 (NRSV) But the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Whether it is asking for God’s rain of blessing on your life, praying the prayer of faith for the sick, or asking God to bring salvation to your city or nation, ask God for rain now! And believe that he wants to pour out his blessing on you, and he will do it!
Yes, the nations can be saved! Begin to ask the Lord to pour out his rain on your country, then declare it! Declare that God’s rain will fall on your family, in your sphere of influence, and on whoever enters your house. Believe that they will tangibly experience the glory of God. Ask God for rain, and he will send his rain! Begin to expect people to be healed, to feel the peace of God, and to be delivered from oppression when they walk in the door of your house. In fact, begin to pray and believe that they will be healed, delivered, and feel the peace of God come over them when they walk by your house. I did so.
Once when I got back from a trip my roommates told me that everyone who drove by my house was staring at my front porch, and they thought it was because they were seeing an angel on the porch. The Lord unleashed a powerful force of blessing on my property. “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 NRSV) If you believe, you will see God’s glory! This is why God gave us the signs that I shared in the last post-so we would remember these scriptures and believe that what they say is true!
If you liked this post, you may want to check out my Heaven Now book trilogy. It contains many similar insights into understanding simple gospel truths and exercising heaven’s dominion on earth. It’s also filled with testimonies of what happened when I put these truths into practice. I’m sure these books will encourage you and help you learn to walk as a heavenly person. Not only that, but your purchase supports our missionary work in Brazil and in every other place we go!