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Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

The Potential of Prayer

James uses Elijah as his illustration of what prayer can accomplish. Elijah pronounced for the Lord that rain would cease until he said it should rain again. Elijah, 3 years later, is told by God to call for rain.

You and I may never cause the rain to cease. Using Elijah as our example here we should note that his prayer was a prayer for his nation. He wasn’t praying for personal gain or preference. Of course, his prayer would directly benefit him. But, it would also benefit all others in the land. “If the Lord will…” (Cf. 4:15)

It probably isn’t God’s will for us to perform this exact same work today. We probably shouldn’t march into Nashville to tell the Governor that it isn’t going to rain again until we pray for it. This was a very useful tool in it’s time that gives us the modern church a better understanding of the potential power of prayer.

Even if we wanted this or something as powerful to happen, God would have to will it. Notice, Elijah’s prayers were powerful. But, He was simply praying as commanded by God. God’s will was for the rain to cease in this case.

To determine the potential of our prayers, we must be in tune with the will of God through His Word. We could pray and fast until the day we die for something outside God’s will and accomplish no more than the prophets of Baal.

What is it that God wants you praying for? It may not be for the rain to cease. But, no matter how small a thing it seems to us right now, we should always be aware of the potential of our prayers. Just because our prayers may not stop rain doesn’t mean we cannot change the world. Our cries to a heavenly father have the potential to have Him intervene on our behalf.

Especially given in a situation like Elijah’s with a national prayer. What powerful national prayers could we have right now? Abortion, Economy, Pornography, etc.

Elijah was not only believing in his praying, but he was persistent. “He prayed … and he prayed again” (James 5:17–18). On Mt. Carmel, he continued to pray for rain until his servant reported “a cloud the size of a man’s hand.”

Too many times we fail to get what God promises because we stop praying.  It is true that we are not heard “for our much speaking” (Matt. 6:7); but there is a difference between vain repetitions and true-believing persistence in prayer.

Our Lord prayed three times in the Garden. Paul prayed three times that his thorn in the flesh might be taken from him. Elijah was determined and concerned in his praying. “He prayed earnestly” (James 5:17). The Greek here is “and he prayed in prayer.” Do you pray in your prayers? Or do you just some say religious words?

A church member was “praying around the world” in a prayer meeting, and one of the men present was growing tired of the speech. Finally, the man cried out, “Ask Him something!” That is what prayer is all about: “Ask Him something!”

The potential power in prayer is the greatest power in the world. History shows how mankind has progressed from manpower to horsepower, and then to dynamite and TNT, and now to atomic power. But greater than atomic power is prayer power. Elijah prayed for his nation, and God answered prayer. We need to pray for our nation today, that God will bring holiness and revival, and that “showers of blessing” will come to the land.

Pastor Chance Strickland

Harpeth Baptist Church
Kingston Springs, TN