“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 for the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17).
In all of our varying experiences we are witnesses to the wonder and might of God dwelling in the physical, as well as, the dry places of the heart if we are walking obediently before Him. It is the challenge of walking before Him that many get into trouble they prefer not to walk in the dry places for long periods of time. James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us that the prophet Elijah prayed that it might not rain, and it did not for three and one-half years, that is a long time in a dry place. What do we do under such circumstances?
The rain is a visible blessing from God and when it does not come some may form an opinion that God has withheld His blessing from us. Few things could be farther from the truth. The dry places and periods without the rain is a time of testing, God is testing our faith—willingness to trust and lean on Him to deliver our sustenance. One definition of faith illustrates the power of prayer when praying in faith. I believe there are three parts to praying in faith; the first is taking hold of the faith of the Son of God, second, keeping hold and third, not letting go.
“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14). A dear friend’s father, Brother George, passed about six months ago and I had the privilege to sit at his bedside before he passed, he had suffered for about three years as the victim of a botched surgical procedure. He admitted that he was tired of suffering and wanted it to be over, he had reached his dry place. It seemed as though God had withdrawn His grace from him, His mercy seemed so far away. Deacon Harris and I prayed with and for him, for the release that he seemed to want so strongly. I believed Brother George kept on praying after we left his bedside.
There is a lesson here, you must keep praying! “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:15). It is not unusual for believers to complain and murmur about and to God, as the Children of Israel and Brother George had—both were hurting—spiritually and physically. But that was not the totality of his case when he really got in touch with God. For thirty more days his desolation lasted and the Lord looked upon him with kindness and mercy. Thank God for that!
This is a parable of faith—faith shutting itself up with God; faith going right on, and “praying in faith,” with earnest faith and hopeful expectations. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Do you know how to pray that way, how to pray fervently? All too often when things in general do not go according to our desires and God in particular does not answer how and when we expect we give up praying. Did my friend’s father give up? No, he kept on praying. We must not be discouraged the living God is still in the heavens and even to delay is part of His goodness.
“Elias a man subject to like passions as we are, he prayed earnestly” (James 5:17). In the original Greek—the passage reads not “earnestly,” but “he prayed in prayer.” Dry places give the Christian believer strength, although it may seem contradictory, it is a sacred truth. King David in a moment of despair cried out: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! Then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6). Before he finished his lament he realized his wish for wings was a realistic one, one that God could provide and with divine encouragement he tells us to; “Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee” (Psalm 55:22).
The word “burden” is translated to mean: “What He (Jehovah) hath given thee.” The burdens of the followers of Jesus Our Christ are God-given, they lead us to “wait upon Jehovah,” and when we are willing to do that by the miracle of faith, the “burden” is redeemed for a pair of wings, and the bearer “mounts up with wings as eagles.” The believer become the eagle, soaring high above the dry places, above the clouds that bring the refreshing rain, basking in the sunlight and grace of God Almighty. “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud and He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17). Be blessed until the blessed call you blessed and bless someone in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ