Never Give Up - Elijah Prays for Rain by
1 Kings 18:41-45(New King James Version)
Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain." So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea."
So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again." Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.'" Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.
This passage gives a great example of effective and persistent prayer. The background of the passage is that in 1 Kings 17:1, Elijah the prophet spoke to Ahab the King of Israel what the Lord told him - that no rain would fall on the land. The Lord decided to judge Israel because of all the idolatry that the people were practising. The Lord then proceeded to use Elijah mightily on Mount Carmel, to bring the nation of Israel back to Himself (1 Kings 18:19-40).
Now an important point to note here is that in 1 Kings 18:1 the Lord told Elijah that rain would come. Therefore God's word/promise was the basis upon which Elijah prayed so persistently. Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel to pray for rain. As he started to pray, he tells his servant to look toward the sea for any sign of rain. Elijah did not just pray. He also looked for results actively. So often it is easy to go through the motion of prayer without really expecting anything to happen. However we see that Elijah made sure his servant was looking for something to change. We too must look for change actively as we pray. For example if you are praying for a situation to change you must first make sure your prayer lines up with the word of God. Is it His will? Is it what He promised? Is it in agreement with what the Bible says? Elijah's prayers were answered because God already told him rain would come. Also, like Elijah, we must check regularly and actively monitor the progress of any situation we pray about. Each time, the servant came back saying "there is nothing". It can be like that sometimes for us. We pray but it seems nothing is happening. It is vital that when this happens, we do not get discouraged. At times, we will have to wait patiently for answers to prayer, being assured that God is hearing us.
Elijah just kept on praying, saying to the servant "go back". In other words he was saying "I will keep on praying, you keep on looking - something will happen." He said "go back" seven times! That is not easy! However, it is at times necessary to pray many times over and over. Some prayers take days, weeks or even years to be answered. What is vital is that our faith in the Lord remains strong.
Eventually change comes. Elijah's servant "sees a cloud as small as a man's hand arising out of the sea." This shows the importance of looking attentively for change. The rain didn't come all at once. The cloud that came wasn't large and easy to see. It was small. The servant could have easily missed it if he was not vigilant. Often, answers to our prayers will not be obvious, but the change we desire may appear as something small or insignificant - just like the cloud. We must be careful though to see the answer when it comes! If you are praying for something, don't be surprised if the improvement/breakthrough you want comes as something small. For example, you may be praying for a great job. After a while an opportunity comes up but it doesn't appear to be what you want. It may be a voluntary position or the location may be out of your comfort zone. Do not despise it. It could be the "small cloud" the Lord sends. It could be the "small cloud" job signals that the season of abundance to come in your life. It could be the one that leads you to exactly what the Lord has in store for you. What's important is that we have a grateful attitude even before the answer comes.
As soon as Elijah was told a small cloud had come, he knew his prayer was answered. That's why he instructed his servant to tell Ahab to go to Jezreel before the rain stopped him. The rain came, and it will come for us too! Let us emulate Elijah's confidence in the Lord. He prayed the same prayer over and over and over again. Yet he never waivered. He kept sending the servant back to look for a change to come. If we will seek to hear from the Lord and pray as Elijah did, we too too can experience great answers to prayer.