For Lord’s Day, April 11, 2021
“Elijah had the kind of spiritual boldness that is only given to those who linger in the presence of the living God.”
These are the powerful words from a sermon by Dr. Philip Ryken in his Every Last Word radio program, Elijah Vol. 1: “A Man Just Like Us” (available at ReformedResources.org). The message is based on James 5:17: 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. I’d like to share some other challenges Dr. Ryken offers us from his sermon.
“Are you a man, or a woman, or a child just like Elijah? Or are you timid in your witness for Christ? A winsome testimony is the proof of a lively prayer life. But a shallow prayer life will be exposed by a shallow ministry … If we are not just like Elijah, it must be because we are not men and women just like Elijah in prayer.”
“We live in an evil day, so our prayers are as necessary as Elijah’s prayers. And we serve a living God so our prayers can be as efficacious as Elijah’s prayers. And so may the Lord make us people of prayer so that we may pray the way that Elijah prayed, as it says in James, righteously. So that our prayers are undiluted by our disobedience, unhindered by unconfessed sin — Powerfully, so that our prayers prevail against the tide of idolatry in our day. Effectively, so that our prayers discern the very things that God intends to do in our day. Earnestly, so that our knees grow strong through our persistence in prayer.”
Amen! Earlier, Dr. Ryken said: “Elijah is a praying, obeying, staying man because God is a living, Word-keeping, caring God.” May we lack no motivation and movement to pray for change in our lives and the lives of others. And let us obey the Lord and stay at His work with our hand to the plow.
But if we aren’t good at staying, then we may not be very good at obeying, and if we aren’t good at obeying, then we aren’t very likely spending much time praying. Not like Elijah. And that spiritual dearth will be exposed by a shallow, proud testimony in how we handle ourselves and others. Beloved, may we thus “linger in the presence of the living God.”