“Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:17-18).
Elijah was a human just like we are?! Having read Elijah’s story full of exciting events, I always find myself thinking otherwise (see 1 Kings). He was the great prophet who caused fire to come down and left the earth on a chariot of fire. He was the prophet who caused the rain to hold off and then to pour down simply because he prayed! It’s hard for me to think of him as simply a human being like us. But this is just what James wants to highlight for us. He reminds us that it wasn’t Elijah who did great things. It was God who did great things through Elijah. Elijah prayed earnestly, and God answered. In the same way, we can pray earnestly, and God will answer us.
With this reference to Elijah, James illustrates the principle that, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). We are made righteous because of Jesus. So, we, also, can pray earnestly, and our prayers can be both powerful and effective. What’s the great injustice that you want to see made right? Pray earnestly about it, just as Elijah did, and God will respond with mighty power for the sake of the kingdom.
This is truly an invitation for all of us “ordinary” human beings to pray earnestly. And it’s an encouragement to be persistent and insistent with these prayers. May we find God’s mighty answers as we respond to this invitation to pray.