At a time of national crisis, when Israel had forgotten God and replaced Him with Baal worship, the prophet Elijah burst onto the scene to remind the people of the one true God. You see, God’s people were in a terribly backslidden state. Queen Jezebel had led her people into the worship of Baal with all its debauchery and idolatry. The tide was toward ungodliness rather than toward God.
Elijah felt alone in his stand for God, so he prayed about the situation, and God gave him direction. In 1 Kings 17:1, Elijah went before King Ahab and pronounced, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word”—and from James 5 we know that the drought lasted for 3½ years.
Elijah was not a superman, he was a person with a nature like ours. So, as believers, we should be encouraged by how he prayed. He put personal effort behind his prayers. It took courage to face King Ahab—it could have cost him his life. And it was hard work to build the altar on Mt. Carmel. Still, he didn’t just lay back and wait for his prayer to get answered. He prayed according to the will of God.
What is prayer all about? It is about partnering with God in bringing His will to pass on the earth. God could execute His will without us, but He has chosen not to do that. Instead, He has chosen to let us participate in what He’s doing. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). In prayer, we position ourselves to cooperate with the will of God on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus, our true and better Elijah, also courageously stood up to the authorities—for which He paid the ultimate price. Still, Jesus prayed to be aligned with God’s will in the midst of His challenges (Luke 22.42).
Like Christ, Elijah knew the will of God because He lived in communion with God. Remember, prayer is not about changing God’s will; it’s about executing God’s will on earth. I suspect that the main reason God involves us in executing His will on earth is that He wants a relationship with us. He wants to share His joy, His kingdom with us.