"Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are" (James 5:17).
Thank God for that! He got under a juniper tree, as you and I have often done; he complained and murmured, as we have often done; was unbelieving, as we have often been. But that was not the case when he really got into touch with God. Though "a man subject to like passions as we are," "he prayed praying." It is sublime in the original--not "earnestly," but "he prayed in prayer." He kept on praying. What is the lesson here? You must keep praying.
Come up on the top of Carmel, and see that remarkable parable of Faith and Sight. It was not the descent of the fire that now was necessary, but the descent of the flood; and the man that can command the fire can command the flood by the same means and methods. We are told that he bowed himself to the ground with his face between his knees; that is, shutting out all sights and sounds. He was putting himself in a position where, beneath his mantle, he could neither see nor hear what was going forward.
He said to his servant, "Go and take an observation." He went and came back, and said--how sublimely brief! one word--"Nothing!"
What do we do under such circumstances?
We say, "It is just as I expected!" and we give up praying. Did Elijah? No, he said, "Go again." His servant again came back and said, "Nothing!" "Go again." "Nothing!"
By and by he came back, and said, "There is a little cloud like a man's hand." A man's hand had been raised in supplication, and presently down came the rain; and Ahab had not time to get back to the gate of Samaria with all his fast steeds. This is a parable of Faith and Sight--faith shutting itself up with God; sight taking observations and seeing nothing; faith going right on, and "praying in prayer," with utterly hopeless reports from sight.
Do you know how to pray that way, how to pray prevailingly? Let sight give as discouraging reports as it may, but pay no attention to these. The living God is still in the heavens and even to delay is part of His goodness. --Arthur T. Pierson
Each of three boys gave a definition of faith which is an illustration of the tenacity of faith. The first boy said, "It is taking hold of Christ"; the second, "Keeping hold"; and the third, "Not letting go."
An exegetical investigation of the book of James reveals a theological theme of "Prayer". The book begins and ends with trials, but in both instances the answer is prayer. When he points to the fact that Elijah was a man with like passions (the proclivity to whine, complain, become defeated in spirit, etc.), he was revealing a very powerful truth. Not that it is okay to whine and complain, but that Elijah was not some type of super human, but a mere man who when absent from his faith became cowardly, but when he regained contact with God and stepped out in faith he was able to command the elements.
When James 5:17 says that Elijah "prayed earnestly" it does not give the significance of the original text in "Greek". The original says that Elijah "prayed" (προσεύχομαι, proseuchomai) "praying" (προσευχή, proseuchē), giving emphasis in the intensity and persistence in the prayer. In truth, Elijah prayed while praying.
Ultimately, James' point was that the one with a faith that would not waver could also accomplish the supernatural.
|Dr. Rick Wallace|