Are These the Days of Elijah?

“These are the Days of Elijah, declaring the Word of the Lord,” goes the first line of a contemporary Christian song. The song is encouraging and challenging. And thought-provoking — especially thought provoking.

That song ran around in my mind as I read several verses from the Epistle of James recently. James 5:17-18 (KJV) says, “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

James was using Elijah as an example after exhorting us to pray effectual, fervent prayers that avail much. In the Wuest New Testament version, James 5:16(b) reads “A prayer of a righteous person is able to do much as it operates.” Hmmm. Do much. Operates. Prayer? Interesting.

I turned to the Old Testament, I Kings chapter 17 and 18, the account of Elijah and the rain. I wanted to see exactly what it was he prayed.

I found Elijah’s spectacular statement about rain in I Kings 17:1, but no prayer. “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” (Ahab was King of Israel and not a good guy. He was married to Jezebel, not a good guy either!)

No prayer about the rain, just that statement. I read on. I found Elijah praying in I Kings 17:20-21, but not about rain. He was praying that God would let a little dead boy’s soul come back to him. God did, of course.

In I Kings 18:36-37, Elijah and 850 fake prophets were having a competition up on Mt. Carmel to see who was the real thing and who wasn’t. All the people of Israel were gathered around the mountainside watching, just like one of our super bowls.

Elijah didn’t actually ask God to do any specific action. He just asked God to make Himself known, and also make it known that Elijah was God’s servant. God did, of course. He sent fire from heaven and burned up Elijah’s water-soaked altar and sacrifice. Then Elijah executed all those fake prophets.

Still, no prayer about rain, just a statement Elijah made to Ahab — get off the mountain, the rain’s coming. He did and it did. I kept on reading I Kings. Maybe there was more about this rain event somewhere else.

I found Elijah praying in I Kings 19:4 — actually more like whining. Jezebel was after him because all her fake prophets were dead and Elijah was having a pity party. “…take away my life…” God didn’t do what Elijah asked this time, he sent an angel to bring him a hot breakfast instead. A 40-days-worth hot breakfast at that.

Other than those verses, I did not find where Elijah prayed for anything, much less rain. He did have conversations with God. God would tell him places to go, people to see, and things to say, and Elijah would obey.

Elijah would say something was going to happen, and it happened. Elijah would command something to happen, and it happened.

I wondered, what was James talking about then, Elijah praying about rain? As far as I could tell Elijah NEVER prayed about rain. He just said something about rain — first, he said it wouldn’t, then he said it would. Both times it happened.

I discovered an interesting thing about the word that Paul used for prayer in James 5:17-18. It’s the Greek word proseuchomai, a word that can also be translated “worship.” I believe what Elijah did was worship, commune, converse with and listen to God. Elijah asked God for something, then God did it? No.

God asked Elijah for something, and then Elijah did it. He said what God told him to say; he spoke God’s word.

Our focus is wrong when we think about prayer. We think of it as our presenting a list of requests to God hoping he’ll stamp Approved, then pestering him until we get it. We plead and we beg, sometimes we pout and we doubt.

What if we worshiped, communed, conversed and listened to God instead? Let him ask us for something, then went out and did it?

Here’s one scenario that may have happened with Elijah and the rain. Elijah is worshiping God. He cries out his adoration and his passion to know God better. He fervently asks God to use him in some way and asks, “How can I be of service to you?” Then instead of saying “Amen” and going away, Elijah listens for God’s reply.

God says, “Okay, here’s what I want you to do. I want to stop it from raining for three and a half years, and stop the dew, too. Go tell Ahab. Go say my words.”

So Elijah went and told Ahab. He spoke God’s words, that there would be no rain or dew for three and a half years. Three and a half years later, Elijah was worshiping and conversing with God again and God says, “I’m going to send rain again now. Go tell Ahab. But first, get rid of all those fake prophets.”

Elijah obeyed, got rid of the fake prophets, spoke God’s words to Ahab again, Rain is coming, and it came!

Many believers ask God to do something, then turn their attention back and forth from God to the problem, waiting for Him to get off his throne and carry out their wishes. Their focus is blurry from all that twisting and turning.

We need Elijah’s focus. It’s not complicated, it’s just different from what we’re used to doing. Focus on God, worship Him, and get his instructions — then focus on the assignment and carry out his instructions.

Go places, see people, speak God’s words into the situation. And get God’s desired results. God’s desired results! Those are the kind of days of Elijah I want.

(First published in 2013.)

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Who am I?

Our church praise team had recently learned a beautiful new song, Creator King. The chorus kept going around in my mind as I sat at my desk working one day.

“Who am I, that you are mindful of me? Who am I, that you set your love on me?” (From Psalm 8:4)

As I thought about those lines, an answer came back to me.

“You’re my child. I love you. Why shouldn’t I be mindful of you? You have children. Don’t you love them? Aren’t you mindful of them, no matter how old they get? That’s how I feel about you. You’re my child.”

I stopped typing and sat there. I suddenly saw in my mind a classroom from my past. The teacher walked slowly up and down the rows of desks as the students did classwork, stopping here and there to offer help, encouragement, suggestions for improvement or praise for accomplishment.

She wasn’t angry, resentful or mean. She was friendly, helpful and caring.

In that instant the Lord let me know that as I struggle to do my assignments, that’s how he sees me. But I’m more than just his student, I’m his child and he loves me. I can be confident of receiving His help, encouragement, suggestions for improvement, or praise for accomplishment.

Whenever I hear that chorus, I’m going to remember this answer. Who am I? I’m his kid, and he loves me.

(First published September 21, 2006)

Which truth do you believe?

Esther's Petition

Grapes of the Promised Land, Nicholas Poussin, Louvre.God told Moses to send 12 men, leaders of their tribes, to spy out the land of Canaan. They traveled from the Wilderness of Zin south of the Negev desert and southwest of the Dead Sea, north to Rehob, northeast of the  Sea of Galilee. (Numbers 13)

Their instructions were simple:

And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwell therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first-ripe grapes. (13:18-20 KJV)

It took…

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Dream Warning: July 2012

Over the years I’ve had a number of remarkable, prophetic dreams, some pleasant, some not so much. Some of them have been posted here on Esther’s Petition. The following is an excerpt from one posted back in July 2012… still appropriate.

I have had another of those remarkable dreams. Not one I want to repeat this time, however. It was the early morning hours of July 7, 2012, before daylight.

Standing in a small meeting room, I was speaking to several men sitting around. They were dressed in business suits and looked sort of like insurance salesmen. Or FBI agents. I was telling them that the signs were there, for people who were looking and listening. Warning signs. The signs were there, as well as information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

These signs were scattered around the whole world, on internet sites, blogs, news items and scientific articles, print newspapers and magazines, in many places and from many seemingly unrelated sources. For those who were paying attention, I told them, the signs were obvious and recognizable.

War is coming, and it’s coming to our country, I said.

A couple of the men glanced at each other, as if to say, we know this — but how does she know it? It didn’t seem to worry them that war was coming; it only seemed to puzzle them that I knew it.

I suddenly realized that few people in the general population were paying attention, and although these men knew what was ahead for the country, they weren’t notifying the population. They probably had no plans to do so. That’s when I woke up.

I lay there and thought about it for a few minutes. War is coming, the dream told me. And it may be soon. What kind of war? Invasion? Revolution? Riots? Small pockets of violence? Wide outbreaks? I don’t know, but the warning signs are indeed out there, and the body of Christ needs to pay attention.

Dream warnings, again: Downtown Florence, SC

Dreaming, early Saturday morning, August 17, 2019

As the dream began, I found myself alone in my car attempting to drive west in the 200 block of Cheves Street, where the original McLeod Infirmary had previously stood. I don’t know where I had been but with muscles tensed and teeth gritted, I was determined to make it home somehow. It was daytime but hard to tell what time of day; the sky was cloudy and gray. Afternoon, perhaps.

The street was in very bad shape. The pavement was broken or missing in places with holes, some really deep, and chunks and piles of debris in the street and along the edges.

It looked like the street had been bombed. Or had there been an earthquake? I didn’t turn my head to look to either side of the street; simply controlling the car was requiring all my attention. Were any buildings still standing? I don’t know, but obviously a disaster had befallen downtown Florence.

Traffic was practically nil; only a few other vehicles were visible on the street. An oncoming car tried unsuccessfully to maneuver around a pile of rubble, then slowly reversed to do a careful U-turn. I saw no police, no firemen, no military presence, only myself and a few other civilians.

When I finally arrived at Irby Street I saw that Cheves Street ahead was completely blocked, only upended slabs of broken concrete and asphalt where the driving lanes should be. I was able to turn right, finding one lane relatively clear until I reached West Evans. I couldn’t tell if North Irby Street ahead would be safe to drive, but I needed to head west anyway.

I turned left onto Evans Street and slowly proceeded down that block, but on reaching Coit Street again found huge gaps and holes in the pavement. Only a narrow lane was clear enough for me to drive forward, but just past the City Center building the street basically ended. Nothing but a deep hole, piles of debris and a muddy ditch remained of the street. I would have to go back, find another way.

The dream ended there and I awoke, clearly recalling those horrifying details. Downtown Florence had been attacked. The protectors had failed.

During the seven years since the last dream warning (see link below) about the City of Florence, many intercessors have prayed for the spiritual protection of our city. Have we prayed for the right things? In the right way?

https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/dream-warnings-revisited/

 

 

 

Transit / transition

I knew 2019 would be a year of change; something would trigger something else, which would result in still something more.

Thinking in terms of geopolitics in the natural and spiritual realms, I didn’t realize how close-to-home that change would be, back in January.

My January 1st post titled “2019” described several prophetic words the Lord had given me: Flashpoint; critical mass; paradigm shift. My initial understanding of those words was of global events and certainly some of those have occurred. National and international news this very week point to that.

But in my personal life, all have come to pass as well, and continue. Here’s a bit of background…

Off and on for some months my daughter Shelby and I had discussed moving in together. She was living with her three grandchildren and the children’s aunt in a leased house, with an option to purchase the property. She was putting funds aside every month to be used as a down payment some day.

Unfortunately; a number of local companies had declined her request for a mortgage loan. But then one day a local bank agreed to work with her on acquiring a mortgage, provided she could increase her down payment funding somewhat.

We started praying more specifically for wisdom and guidance, and it seemed as though we both heard the same reply: it’s time.

And so I spoke to a realtor friend, listed my condominium for sale, and we began what I thought might be a lengthy process.

But it wasn’t! Within a couple of weeks the condo was sold! Two days before closing, my four cats and I moved in with Shelby and family.

It was obvious that the bank’s mortgage agreement was a sort of flashpoint for us, one that triggered a major change, leading to critical mass and a paradigm shift in both our lives. Nothing will ever be the same.

Within a few more weeks we bought the house together and are now in the process of remodeling. An older house, it needed a fair amount of updating to make it more convenient for all of us.

A more modern kitchen, extra bathroom, new closets, updated flooring, various maintenance projects and minor repairs started two days after I moved in. Can you visualize mess with a capital M? It’s been an adventure living in the house while all this is going on!

Well, my prayer assignment hasn’t changed but it has broadened significantly. Many other people have been added to my usual, normal prayer list. Other situations; more specific needs.

“2019 is going to be an interesting year, I think” is how I ended that January 1st post. It has certainly been that.

Thinking about writing this post, two other words kept coming to mind: transit, and transition. Short explanations: transit is a journey; transition is the result of that journey.

My recent transit changed my physical address; the spiritual transition is ongoing. I’m really looking forward to seeing what else the Holy Spirit has in mind for 2019!

How to Pray Less, Succeed More: Praying the Word of God.

How important are words to God? How important is his own word, to God?

According to John14:26, the Holy Spirit will bring back to our remembrance the words that Jesus told us. He’s our “Reminder-in-Chief” of God’s word, and he does it in several ways:

By our reading, studying and meditating on the scriptures for ourselves (the Holy Spirit can’t remind us of something we didn’t know in the first place); by hearing teachings and sermons of people like pastors and Bible teachers; and even by the conversation of Christian friends, our mentors whether they consider themselves as that or not.

Here are some reminders, scriptures dealing with our use of words. We all use words in casual conversations, as well as in our thoughts:

  • Proverbs 6:2 – “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.” (KJV)
  • Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
  • Proverbs 21:23 – “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”
  • James 3:19 – “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
  • Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

Since you are a hearer of your own words, they should be ministering (delivering) grace to you yourself, as well as anybody else. Even in your private thoughts, you’re hearing words.

So what kind of words might you be hearing from your own self? Words of confident, relaxed faith? Or words of frustration, irritation, annoyance, impatience, anxiety, worry, doubt, anger, fear? Pain or disappointment?

It’s a common temptation to let our words contain stuff that doesn’t minister grace to anyone, including ourselves. Even the words we may use in prayer. The temptation is to pray in exasperation, desperation, frustration, and not in faith.

Then too, did you ever begin to pray but then get distracted? Distraction is another common temptation, losing focus, the mind wandering to family situations or work problems.

Trials and temptations – do they affect prayer?

Yes, they do. Of course they do. But there’s an excellent example of coming out ahead despite them – our primary example, Jesus.

Matthew Chapter 4 and Luke Chapter 4 describe the temptation of Jesus in the Judean wilderness, after he received the Holy Spirit. We tend to think about the desert as being empty, and that idea limits our ideas of the temptations Jesus faced. But he was tempted in every single way that we are, and that temptation started in the desert.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15, NASB)

Let’s think about that a bit. What exactly was Jesus tempted with, during those 40 days before Satan began “sweet-talking” him? Where was that wilderness, what was in it, what it was like at that time? Here’s some interesting information about it:

East and south of Jerusalem, the Judean Wilderness is one of the smallest deserts in the world, much of it lying adjacent and west of the Dead Sea. It was and is craggy and rough, hilly and mountainous with steep cliffs and deep ravines, difficult but not impossible to traverse on well-used trails criss-crossing the area. Takes concentration.

There were occasional streams and many wadis, some pools of water in shaded areas and oases with trees and other vegetation.

Sparsely inhabited, it contained small villages on its edges (Bethlehem was one of those), as well as Bedouin encampments, camels, sheep and goats, leopards and other wild creatures. People! Company! Interesting conversations! Temptations? Perhaps.

Then there was the spectacular and huge Herod’s Palace (Herodium)* south of Jerusalem, which may contain his burial site. It has been the site of an intermittent archeological dig over the years. In the days of Jesus’s wilderness temptation, this was a busy place with many people coming and going, the Roman guards who served Herod, as well as Herod and his entourage.

Masada is also there, overlooking the Dead Sea. It was captured and built up by Herod as a military fortress. More Roman guards came and went; lots of people to see.

(Both of these historical sites are Israeli National Parks today, popular tourist attractions.)

There were quite a few trees in the Judean Desert; they existed then and still do today, such as these:

The Carob / Locust tree (above left). It’s fruit is edible whether green or dried, and is frequently used as a chocolate substitute. The Acacia is also called the Rain tree (above right) because its leaves fold together in rain or high humidity. It’s used for animal fodder, gum, and has many medical uses.

Also located in the desert were date palms, pistachio trees, and wild figs. Fasting would definitely have been a temptation for Jesus; there was plenty of food and water available.

Physical fatigue, loneliness sometimes, and a great many distractions including people and scenery. There were lots of things to do, lots of things to see – and lots of things to guard against, including wild animals.

Not to mention the enemy, who used words to tempt Jesus to compromise, as he does to tempt believers today. But Jesus knew the importance and power of the scriptures, and he made excellent use of them. So can we. So must we, if we’re going to Pray Less and Succeed More.

* For more information about Herodium,, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodium and http://allaboutjerusalem.com/attraction/herodion-national-park.