We know many things about God. From reading His word we know about His character, His covenants, His holiness. We know He has amazing love for people, whom He created in His image. We know God is committed to justice. As we learn more about Him through His word and through a personal relationship with Him, we love and trust Him more and know He is worthy of our worship and praise. However, no matter how much we learn and know about God, His greatness is beyond our understanding. Our minds are limited and finite, and we do not have the ability to fully comprehend an all knowing, all powerful, infinite God. God cannot be confined, He moves outside and beyond our understanding, and often beyond our expectation. He is bigger than anything we face.
Scriptures – Psalm 145:3; 1 Kings 16:30, 18:17-18, 21, 27, 29, 37, 39; James 4:3
Verse – The Lord is great and is to be highly praised; his greatness is beyond understanding. (Ps 145:3) Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21) When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (Js 4:3)
Thought – During King Ahab’s reign in Israel, he and his evil wife Jezebel turned the hearts of the people away from the One True God and toward Baal, the sun and fire god, and Asherah (Baal’s wife) the goddess of fertility. The people believed these false gods were responsible for plentiful crops and all blessings in their lives, so they worshipped them. God sent His prophet Elijah to deal with the king and the culture. God’s word to King Ahab through Elijah was that there would be a drought. No rain would fall until God decided. For 3 years there was no rain; the people suffered and many died. As Elijah awaited further instruction, God provided him with water and food. After 3 years God told Elijah to return to King Ahab and call for a contest between the false gods and the One True God. Elijah prayed: “Answer me, Lord, answer me, so that this people will know that you, the Lord, are God and that you are bringing them back to yourself.” (1 Kings 18:37) The contest took place on top of Mt. Carmel. The 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah stood against Elijah and God. God’s power was mightily displayed as the powerless prophets prayed, danced, and pleaded for their gods to respond. The One True God rained down fire that consumed the offering Elijah had prepared and everything around it. God also empowered Elijah to destroy all the false prophets. It’s an incredible account of God’s power and answered prayer. The key here is that Elijah asked for God’s intervention “so that” the people would turn their hearts back to God. He didn’t ask for himself or any personal gain. How often are your prayers truly about the advancement of God’s kingdom? Our natural instinct is to advance our own selfish desires and personal interests. When we get our “so that” in line with God’s plan, we will see more of God’s power displayed in our lives and in the church.
Questions – Do you have a prayer life, or do you mostly pray when you need something? Do your prayers glorify God, include praise and thanksgiving? Are your prayers centered in your own desires or in God’s purpose? How can we as humans reach a point where our prayers aren’t rooted in selfishness? What is something you have been praying for? As you consider this prayer, is it mostly for your purpose or God’s? How can you tell?
Response – Think about your prayers. In James we read that, “you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.” Consider your motives. Ask God to purify your desires and motives and begin to pray prayers that align with God’s plan for your life and for His Kingdom.
Prayer – Most Holy God, you alone are worthy of my praise and worship! Help me to keep you first in my heart, in my life, and in my endeavors. Keep me from being pulled away by the many things that promise much but have no power. I want your power in my life. May your kingdom come, and your will be done in our church and through its witness in this community and beyond. Bring many to know and love you “so that” you will receive all the glory, honor, and praise. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.