Unlike the prophets of Baal, Elijah did not need to engage in hysterical antics. No incessant pleading, no cutting, and no dancing around the altar. Instead, he approached the altar and, with reverence and confidence, offered the simple prayer. Elijah's attitude and prayer reveal 3 principles of praying, principles guaranteed to bring the fire of God's power down from heaven.
Approach God with Confidence
The deity who consumed the sacrifice with fire was the true God. The prophets of Baal had their chance, and all that came from heaven was thundering silence. It was not Elijah's turn to approach the altar (1Ki 18:36). Elijah did not move away from the altar; he moved toward it. By his actions he was saying, "God's a dead-eye shot. The sacrifice will burn, I won't." What confidence Elijah had in the Lord!
When you have an intimate relationship with God, your confidence to speak with Him about anything grows. Paul reminded the Ephesian believers that they had "boldness and confident access through faith" to come to the Lord (Eph 3;12). And the writer to the Hebrews tells us that our faith in Christ is our VIP pass to the throne room of heaven and that we ought to "have confidence to enter the holy place" (Heb 10:19). My wife can come in to see me in my office at any time, for any reason. Why? Because she is my wife. We can have that same confidence and access when we come before our heavenly Father. We do not need to have a preapproved agenda or even an appointment. We can confidently come into God's presence whenever we want because we are family.
Pray according to God's Will
Have you ever wondered how Elijah dreamed up this contest with the prophets of Baal and Asherah? Was he feeling especially aggressive one morning after a couple extra shots of espresso in his coffee? No. Elijah tells us the source of the challenge in his prayer: "Let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your Word" (1Ki 18:36). God is the One who gave Elijah specific instructions about the contest on Mount Carmel. Though he received God's commands privately, Elijah believed them with certainty, which ignited the power of his praying.
When we pray for God to do what he has already promised to do, we too can pray with absolute confidence. John says, "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1Jn 5:14). Maybe you are thinking, If God would be that specific in revealing His will to me, then I could pray like Elijah and experience dramatic answers to my prayers too. I understand that sentiment. There are items on my prayer list right now that I am asking God for daily-sometimes hourly. These requests are all good things related to my family, my church, and my ministry. But I cannot say with absolute confidence that they are part of God's plan for my life. So I keep asking with confidence with the assurance that God will do what is best, nor that God will necessarily say yes to my requests. However, there are other requests only list that I know with absolute certainty God is going to answer, because these requests are based on His divinely revealed will. For example, this morning I prayed with confidence that God would empower me to stay morally pure because this is God's will: "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality" (1Th 4:3).
Focus on Glorifying God
Elijah had dedicated his life to proving that the Lord was the only true God. Elijah's name meant "The Lord is my God." It should be no surprise that central to Elijah's prayer on Mount Carmel was the desire that all of Israel might conclude that the Lord, not Baal, was God. He prayed, "O, Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God.... Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God" (1Ki 18:36-37).
Elijah's desire was to demonstrate God's glory to the world. It ought to be our desire as well. And one way we can demonstrate God's glory is by declaring God's holiness. When we say God is "holy," we are saying God is "separate" or a "cut above" anyone or anything else in creation, which is why He alone is worthy of worship. Elijah's prayer on Mount Carmel was that God would use him to demonstrate God's holiness to the world. That request was in alignment with one of God's great eternal purposes throughout history: the declaration of His holiness-His separateness-so that people will worship Him. God is still looking for men and women who, like Elijah, are passionate about declaring His holiness to the world.
When Jesus came to the earth in the human form, a very special star was shining in the sky pointing to the place where Jesus was born. There were shepherds in the fields. Suddenly there was a song and praising from angels saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." That was called Christmas. It was glory to God. Our purpose of life is to glory God. Paul said, "Whatever you do, or drink, do it for the glory of God." When we pray, sometimes we ask God "show us Your glory" which means "do something for us" or simply "answer us to our prayer."
Approach God like the last moment in your life
Before the Israelites crossing the Jordan River to enter the promised land, Moses finally reminded them, "O Israel, The Lord is our God, the Lord is One. You shall keep every commandment so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you about to cross to possess it. If you listen to the commandments of the Lord, you be blessed, but if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord, you will be cursed." It was Moses' last official speech to them. God is the only Savior to help them, protect them, and save them.
After taking over the leadership from Moses, Joshua brought the Israelites into the promised land, led them to settle down. And time passed. Joshua was old. One day, he called all the leaders and the elders of the tribes. And Joshua said to them, "If you listen to the Lord, the Lord will bless you." "If you turn away from the Lord, you will be cursed." It was the same message as Moses said to them. Today is the last Sunday of this year. This month is the last month of the year 2019. You need to determine your mind-set whether to continuously serve God or not.