Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Philippians 4: 6
“The natural temptation with every difficulty is to plan for it, to put it out of the way yourself; but stop short with all your planning, your thinking, your worry, and talk to Him! Rest, trust, and wait, and see how He does that which you wanted to do and had so much care about. ‘Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.’”
A. E. Funk
Today’s Study Text:
“And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees.”
1 Kings 18: 42
“5 Lessons On Prayer From Mount Carmel” –
Lesson 1 - Preparation For Prayer”
“We pay God honor and reverence, not for His sake, because He is of Himself full of glory to which no creature can add anything, but for our own sake.”
When I come to God in prayer, what is the attitude I approach my Father with?
What do I think it means to “prepare” one’s self to meet God in prayer?
“Thy home is with the humble, Lord,
The simple are Thy rest;
Thy lodging is in childlike hearts;
Thou makest there Thy nest.”
F. W. Faber
“God wants us to seek Him more than anything else, even more than we seek answers to prayer. When we come to God in prayer, sometimes our hearts are so full of what we want that we leave God out. Our minds become consumed with the gift rather than the Giver.”
The day had been long. I can only surmise that everyone who had been on Mount Carmel felt the wear of the day by eventide. The emotional toll taken by the hysterical behavior of the prophets of Baal had to have left all the participants weary.
And now, as the sun sets, Elijah had a message for Ahab. “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” This passage, and the verse, which follows in 1 Kings 18: 42, really got my attention.
Two men…two very different responses. For Ahab, who like Elijah, had probably not had a lot to eat or drink all day long, it was a time to take action. Ahab was instructed by Elijah to get up and eat. But for Elijah, God’s man on Mount Carmel, the action he was to take was quite different. Elijah wasn’t as concerned about food for the body as he was food for his soul. We are told that Elijah “went to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees.” For Elijah, it was to be a time of communion with his Father in heaven. A time of refreshment with the Source of Elijah’s power.
This information got me thinking about the fact that Elijah had just been in prayer. “Hadn’t he met his ‘praying quota’ for the day,” I asked myself? Isn’t this how I sometimes feel? There’s a prayer time, a playtime, a work time, an eating time.
If you are anything like me, you may have your day divided up into sections. I know for many years, my days were like “To Do” lists. As each “task” was accomplished, I’d check off the item and think to myself, “Well, another thing is done!” To be honest, prayer was no different than anything else on my list of “To Do’s!”
But when I came to realize that prayer for me was not a “To Do,” my entire daily plan began to change. How about you? Has the vitalness of weaving prayer throughout all your daily events become so natural that prayer is now a necessity around which your entire day is built? This is certainly what I’ve found has happened in my own life. Thankfully, the Bible has left us multiple examples of God’s daughters and sons who also found that if they were going to have the intimacy with their heavenly Father they longed for, prayer could not be put into a box or onto a schedule. Yes, we can have times in our life which we dedicate to communication with our Father in heaven, but even more, having fellowship, which is unending, provides us with a deeper strength as we attempt to handle the challenges we face each day.
It is with this vision of prayer being incorporated into all I do each day that motivated me to take another look at the behavior of Elijah at the end of his momentous day on Mt. Carmel. As I reread 1 Kings 18: 41, 42, with the background of today’s “Affirmation,” penned by Richard Whytford, a Welsh devotional author who penned inspirational words regarding prayer, I found that his thought regarding preparation for spending time with God contained a tremendous correlation between the actions Elijah took as he bowed in prayer atop Carmel, asking his Father to fulfill His promise of rain.
In Richard Whytford’s prayer, he asks God to “fix his mind” on his Father during their communion together. He wanted his focus to be on his Father’s glory and on his Father’s will. He didn’t want wandering thoughts and misplaced feelings. Most of all, he wanted to totally recognize God as his “Benefactor” and “Deliverer.”
Now let’s take a moment and look at the actions Elijah took when he came into the presence of his Father. First, he cleared away all distracting factors and that included Ahab. Believe me, King Ahab was chief among the individuals who had been shown to “draw away” the attention of Israel from their Almighty God. Still exhibiting a lack of attention to the spiritual, Ahab went to eat food to sustain his physical needs while Elijah hiked to the top of Mt. Carmel where in reverence he bowed down, placed his head to the earth and devoted his entire attention on his spiritual need to speak with God.
What a lesson for us as we prepare our lives each day to enjoy uninterrupted communion with God. I’ve written before about the way I too frequently found myself yielding to the hurry of a day and resorting to what I call, “door-knob” prayers. It’s a prayer you say with one hand on the doorknob as you rush to get yourself off to work. My “door-knob” prayers often went something like this, “Bless me Lord. Keep me safe today. I’ll check in with you later when I get home from work. And if I get in a big mess today at work, You might even hear from me sooner.”
Sound familiar? For too long I was content to just rattle off a few words on my way out the door, patting myself on the back while thinking that at least I was doing more than the average person.
Sadly, it is this type of lazy prayer life that left me woefully lacking when I needed to draw from a well that had nearly run dry -- because of my own lack of care.
As you read Richard Whytford’s words in the “Affirmation” today, I hope you will take time to recognize the goal of focused time with our Father. He underscores my point with these words, “Take up all my thoughts here, that mine eyes…may become worthy to behold Thee face to face in Thy glory for ever.”
As together we have studied the life of Elijah and all the individuals who he interacted with, I’ve found myself longing to have the same kind of connection with my Father that Elijah had. Whether in Gilead’s rugged terrain or hidden away by a brook at Cherith or in a foreign country living in a portable shelter on top of a cottage roof to right into the halls of the power in Israel’s palace, Elijah’s prayer life was an unbroken chain of golden conversation -- not assigned to a certain time and place as much as to a certain person -- his Father in heaven who he longed more than anything, like the prophet Moses, to see face-to-face.
If you and I long to “view Thee face-to-face, oh, Father,” may we prepare ourselves today by communing with God in all we do, everyday. In the words of John Dawson, penned in 1868, “with all your weakness and helplessness, with all your frailties and infirmities, with all your sorrows and cares, He (God) invites you to come to Him.”
“By its being thus ordered, that the creature should have so absolute and universal a dependence on God, provision is made that God should have our whole souls, and should be the object of our undivided respect.”
“Jesus, grant me grace to fix my mind on Thee, especially in time of prayer, when I directly converse with Thee. Stop the motions of my wandering head, and the desires of my unstable heart; suppress the power of my spiritual enemies, who endeavor at that time to draw my mind from heavenly thoughts, to many vain imaginations. So shall I, with joy and gratitude, look on Thee as my Deliverer…and as my Benefactor for all good I have ever received, or can hope for…O beloved of my soul, take up all my thoughts here, that mine eyes, abstaining from all vain and hurtful sights, may become worthy to behold Thee face to face in Thy glory for ever.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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