articlesqa February 15, 2018 how to stop the rain
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo EleyinafeCreator and author of

As with all of God’s com­mands, our an­swer is al­ways why? Why do we need to read the Bible? Why do we need to go to Church? Why do we need to breathe? Why do we need to eat? But this com­mand to pray is of­ten the most dif­fi­cult to obey. For read­ing the Bible at least seems to be a some­thing and go­ing to Church at least seems to be a some­thing. These are ac­tiv­i­ties that, while de­mand­ing of our time, at least seem to ac­com­plish some­thing. But prayer seems to be just talk­ing that doesn’t ap­pear to ac­com­plish any­thing when so so much needs to be done right now!

And yet, prayer, like lit­tle for­got­ten David pas­tur­ing his sheep, is king. The ques­tion is not, “Why prayer?” No­body ever stays up at night pon­der­ing and ask­ing God, “Why prayer?” Be­cause that would be a real prayer. No we pon­der in an­guish of many feel­ings while ask­ing and ask­ing, “Why mar­ry?” or “Why work?” or “Why live?” or “Why atoms?” and so on. We pray to our­selves or pray to the god of google or oprah or our best friend who doesn’t know what he’s do­ing with his life ei­ther. But we nev­er ever ask God. Yet the fact that we spon­ta­neous­ly speak to the gods of the air or sea or land proves one thing: prayer has pri­ma­cy. Prayer is foun­da­tion­al and will al­ways be done.

But be­cause prayer is so ba­sic, we think it is use­less and even oner­ous to pray to God. In the past, I have called it prov­i­dence that He “re­fus­es” to act with­out prayer. As if God has quirks! An en­gi­neer, through build­ing many hous­es, comes to love the hum­ble, sol­id ground more than he loves the house’s vaunt­ed el­e­gance. The lay­man, how­ev­er, walks around nev­er think­ing of the earth ... un­til it slides or quakes be­neath him. The farmer is in love with the soil and sees it as most pre­cious. But only a few would un­der­stand the depth of her of­fer­ing if, in­stead of fruit, she be­gan sell­ing the rich soil. And so it is with prayer. Every­body prays (most­ly to idols) and every­body needs to pray but it is an af­front to our idol­a­trous hearts when prayer is lift­ed up as the most im­por­tant thing a Chris­t­ian ever does.

What Is Prayer?

Prayer is a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween you and your God about the world around you and the world with­in you. We of­ten think of prayer as ask­ing for things. Yet even when we ask for any­thing, we are ex­press­ing three things: 1 This is how the world is. 2 This is who I am. 3 This thing would be good for me. Hence even when we ask for stuff, we are real­ly hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with God about the world with­in us and the world around us. So when your daugh­ter asks you for a snake be­cause she thinks it is bread, you now get to tell her the dif­fer­ence be­tween poi­son and food. So again, prayer, fun­da­men­tal­ly, is not about get­ting stuff. Prayer is a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween you and your God about the world around you and the world with­in you. Prayer is the sol­id ground through which you tru­ly know your en­vi­ron­ment and your self. Which is to say, those who don’t pray to God are ig­no­rant; ig­no­rant of the world and ig­no­rant of them­selves.

But this con­ver­sa­tion be­tween you and God is not re­quired to be the cod­i­fied ar­tic­u­la­tion of “Our Fa­ther who art in heav­en”. Prayer is also the child who walks with the Fa­ther con­stant­ly yap­ping and talk­ing and say­ing stuff like, “Dad­dy, Dad­dy, why do the birds fly? Why do frogs have crooked legs? Why is that man so short? Oooh, a chick­en!” And so on. And there­by, through the re­la­tion­ship with her Fa­ther, the child comes to know her­self and she comes to know every­thing else. Most im­por­tant­ly though, Fa­ther God loves to hear your voice. Like a hu­man fa­ther hear­ing his cry­ing son, God ur­gent­ly sent Ana­nias to Paul say­ing, “Be­hold, he prays.” Acts 9:10-11 In this way also, God re­sponds to the sound of your voice. There­fore, prayer, al­though dressed up as a de­sire to ac­quire this or that, ul­ti­mate­ly ex­pos­es an un­fath­omable Love from God The Fa­ther and feeds a grow­ing love for God The Fa­ther. This is the love that Je­sus ex­press­es at the tomb of Lazarus when He said, “I thank you Fa­ther that you have heard me. I knew you al­ways hear me.” John 11:41-42

You may again think of it this way. The soil be­neath your feet is prayer. Un­der­neath this rich soil of prayer is the deep bedrock and flow­ing rivers which we call love. From the per­spec­tive of eter­ni­ty, those who love God will pray and those who don’t love God will not pray. Only through prayer can the be­liev­er, a crea­ture of eter­ni­ty and time Ec­cle­si­astes 3:11, ever dis­cov­er the Love of God and his love for God. Though He Show­ers her with Love, she who will not pray, nev­er ex­pe­ri­ences the rain as His Love and there­fore, nev­er loves Him in re­turn. So it is a con­tra­dic­tion to hear a Chris­t­ian say, “I love God but I don’t pray.” It is like say­ing, “I love my wife but I don’t look for time to talk to her.” You can only know God’s love and love Him back as you pray.

Knowl­edge and Pow­er

In ad­di­tion to knowl­edge, prayer also grants pow­er. Hence Je­sus said that it is through prayer that a man gains the pow­er to cast out cer­tain kinds of demons Mark 9:28-29. Why is this the di­vine or­der? I can­not say all be­cause I do not know all. But I do know that through prayer, I ex­change world­ly ig­no­rance for God­ly knowl­edge. Fur­ther­more, through my re­la­tion­ship with God, I am able to ask Him to rad­i­cal­ly change a sit­u­a­tion that is oth­er­wise im­mutable.

Joshua, in the mid­dle of a pitch bat­tle, was not in­struct­ed by God to ask the sun and moon to stop Joshua 10:12-14. Eli­jah was not in­struct­ed by God to make the rain cease 1 Kings 17:1-3. And 3 years lat­er when God asked Eli­jah why he had stopped the rain, Eli­jah twice re­spond­ed, “I have been very jeal­ous for the Lord.” 1 Kings 19:9-10, 13-14 And that there is the key. Joshua un­der­stood that the bat­tle against the Amor­ites was some­thing on God’s Heart. Eli­jah un­der­stood that God hat­ed the idol­a­try of the peo­ple. They both un­der­stood God’s Heart on the na­ture of the world around them. How does a man come to un­der­stand God Own Heart? How does a woman come to be called, “A Woman Af­ter God’s Own Heart”? Only through prayer (which in­cludes read­ing the Bible and obey­ing Him).

When you know the Heart of God on a mat­ter, when you hate what God Hates and love what God Loves, then He Will Up­hold your words. If, out of jeal­ousy for God, you per­ceive that in time the sun and moon need to stand still, then God will back you up. If you think it needs to stop rain­ing so that the peo­ple can learn that The Lord is God 1 Kings 18:39, then God will back you up. So also, you will know when not to call down fire Luke 9:54-56. For this rea­son, Psalms 37:3-5 tells me to make God my heart so that He can give me the de­sires of my heart.

Prayer is Life

Image Source: There­fore, the pow­er gained through prayer is not the cav­a­lier unchecked weak­ness of the tyrant or the mob. It is a pure and holy pow­er that can only be used in the con­text of a re­la­tion­ship with God. He Pun­ish­es any at­tempt to use this pow­er be­yond the bound­aries of re­la­tion­ship with Him Num­bers 20:12. But when this pow­er is used through re­la­tion­ship with God, then sud­den­ly Chris­tians are able to sub­due and mul­ti­ply to fill the earth Gen­e­sis 1:28, Acts 1:4-5,8. There­fore, James 5:16-18 is clear to say that the prayer of a right­eous man has great pow­er and ef­fect. For right­eous­ness be­gins through prayer and grows through prayer. Then James re­veals that Eli­jah prayed fer­vent­ly for the rain to stop and, af­ter three years, he prayed for the rain to start again. That word “fer­vent­ly” im­plies that God re­spond­ed to Eli­jah’s emo­tion­al ut­ter­ance be­cause Eli­jah had the right emo­tions. The right emo­tions are those that mir­ror God’s Emo­tions.

But Eli­jah is NOT dif­fer­ent by virtue of hav­ing spe­cial spir­i­tu­al DNA. No. Eli­jah prayed over and over and over again. Through prayer, he was af­firmed in God’s love for him. Through prayer, he knew and be­came the im­age of God’s Loves and God’s Hates. He grew so close to God that men be­gan to ap­proach him with a holy fear of God 2 Kings 1:8-14. Through prayer, Eli­jah spoke as he thought God would have spo­ken giv­en the cir­cum­stances. And God heard him and held back the clouds. So also, God shall do for us, His chil­dren, when prayer be­comes our life and not just an oc­ca­sion.

There is a great book by a broth­er in whose fam­i­ly I do not de­serve to be­long called The Cost of Dis­ci­ple­ship. The book lays out what we eas­i­ly for­get as The Church of Je­sus Christ: the cost of dis­ci­ple­ship is de­nial of one­self so that I can be like Je­sus Christ. We lay down our lives be­cause He Laid down His Own. He Of­fers us His Body and Blood and we of­fer to Him our body and blood. The cost of dis­ci­ple­ship is the price of love. Even when the price is high, it is an easy de­ci­sion. So please go and read The Cost of Dis­ci­ple­ship by broth­er Di­et­rich Bon­ho­ef­fer. These se­ries of ar­ti­cles deal with dis­c...
a disciple is notMarch 06, 2018
In The Wid­ow’s Oil, our last ar­ti­cle about dis­ci­ple­ship, I said that Je­sus re­vealed The Holy Trin­i­ty when He said, “I Am The True Vine and My Fa­ther Is The Vine­dress­er.” I only hint­ed at the ex­pla­na­tion which will be com­plet­ed in this ar­ti­cle. Now as I write, I will of­ten say sons which means sons and daugh­ters. But I re­main with sons be­cause Je­sus Is The Son of God. Now this ar­ti­cle is lit­tle long. But if God Gives you in­sight into Him­self, then you will per­ceive how short it is. “I Am The True Vine and My Fa­ther is the Vine­dress­er.” So many Names Eter­nal­ly robed in that sin­gle Name, “My Fa­ther”. I...
holy loveApril 12, 2018
Rays of light care­ful­ly craft­ed to pierce the dark­ness of any sor­row, the words of Je­sus in are Bril­liant and Strong. With the Almighty Pa­tience of The Eter­nal God and the pas­sion­ate brevi­ty of a Man about to die, Je­sus Christ en­com­pass­es the en­tire­ty of the dis­ci­ple’s walk. Je­sus speaks here only to be­liev­ers. For them, these words are open doors. In the midst of the val­ley of the shad­ow of death, these vers­es are the rod and staff; they are a house where the dis­ci­ple calm­ly rests as she walks with Je­sus Christ. Those who go fur­ther with­out abid­ing here will only find them­selves by com­ing back. Those w...
the true vineMarch 27, 2018

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 2:3