March 13, 2014

Illogical prayer . . .

So much of what God does is opposite to what we would do. While we tell ourselves to be confident and strong, He provides strength in weakness. We boast of our skills and position in life, and He says, “Consider your calling . . .  not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong . . .” (1 Corinthians 1:26–27)

Human thinking says contentment is about having all you need, but God gives contentment whether that is true or not. Paul knew this contradiction . . .

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11–13)

We think we have no power over things like the weather, but “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, 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 heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (James 5:17–18)

We feel helpless in the face of death, and for the most part, we are, yet God is not limited by what is impossible by our logic. Elijah stayed at the house of a widow who was very poor and God stretched her meager resources to take care of her, her son, and this prophet. This was another opposite to human thinking for a small bottle of oil and a small container of flour should not last as long as it did.

But then another disaster struck. The boy became ill and died. The widow called the prophet. Elijah prayed, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?  . . .  O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.”

God heard Elijah’s prayer and answered by doing the impossible . . . “And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, ‘See, your son lives.’ And the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.’ (1 Kings 17:17–24)

Elijah’s prayers resulted in God doing what was contrary to reason. In another situation where Baal worship pulled the people into idolatry, this prophet challenged the prophets of Baal. He had a “sacrifice competition” by preparing two bulls . . .

Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” (1 Kings 18:22–24)

This was not a stunt. Elijah was outnumbered, but he prayed that what happened would honor God . . . “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” (1 Kings 18:36–38)

Again, God did the opposite of what seems logical, but fire fell from heaven, consuming the sacrifice and even the copious amounts of water Elijah had poured on it, plus the wood, the stones, and the dust. Who would dare to have prayed like that? Only someone who understands that God can do anything. His power is unlimited.

God, I know that nothing is too difficult for you. Keep my logic and reasoning out of my prayers. Let my requests honor You and may all Your answers bring You glory.

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