Serve through Prayer
1 Kings 17:17–24
Intellectually, all of us agree that prayer is an essential part of the Christian life. However, in practice, we sometimes neglect this powerful privilege to communicate with the Lord. Perhaps we don’t realize the surpassing greatness of the power available to us (Eph. 1:19).
Once my sister mowed my yard with my new self-propelled lawnmower. She told me, “You need to take this mower back. You were ripped off. It is the hardest I have ever used.” In reality, the mower worked fine. Her problem was she never pulled the lever to activate the self-propelled function. In other words, she mowed the entire yard in her own power.
Similarly, we often attempt to serve others with our power, leading to fatigue, frustration and minimal results. Let us seek today to tap into the power of prayer.
Hardship is an opportunity to trust (17–18).
This widow had a tough life. Her husband died, leaving her a single mom to raise a child in poverty. Moreover, drought and famine resulted in both of them being at the very brink of starvation. Now she was experiencing yet another heartbreak: Her beloved son died.
The traditional teaching of the day was that bad things were a result of sin. Perhaps this widow questioned what great sin she had committed resulting in her husband’s death? Now she wondered aloud if the man of God came to remind her of her sinfulness with the death of her son.
One lesson from this passage is that hardships are not always connected to sin. Instead, Christians should view difficulties as opportunities to trust God and hear from Him.
View your hardship as an opportunity to hear from and trust God.
Service to others includes intercession (19–21).
Elijah could have said, “I am sorry,” and gone on his way.
He could have lectured her on the consequences of sin. Or perhaps this death could have been a lesson on the importance of trusting God even when life doesn’t make sense.
Instead of lecturing, Elijah actively sought to take the problem to God. He compassionately took the boy in his arms and carried him to the upper room. Where did he take this problem? To God!
Elijah’s intercession was not a casual prayer but one in which he agonized. For emphasis, it is stated twice that he “cried out.” Furthermore, he stretched out on this child three times as he pleaded with God for the boy’s life to return. Elijah didn’t halfheartedly intercede.
What is needed today is more intercessors — men and women who will agonize and labor in prayer as we take the needs of others to God.
God’s answer to prayer can lead others to turn to Him (22–24).
Elijah carries the woman’s pain to the Lord. God hears his cries, heals the boy, and now Elijah brings him back to her in victory.
Hardships are an opportunity to trust God and see a new dimension of His love as He responds to our prayers. Elijah did much more than witness this miraculous raising from the dead; he was able to see this widow turn to God in a new depth of faith and trust.
Again, let us not be like my sister, who mowed the yard in her strength. Instead, let each of us commit to intercede for others. In the process, God will use our prayers to lead them to turn to Him. To God alone be the glory!
By Rob Jackson, Ph.D.
Jackson has served in a variety of ministry roles, including pastor and state missionary