I recently read Forgotten God by Francis Chan. In his chapter on the church, he writes:
Sometimes I leave Christian events wondering if we resemble the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18 more than Elijah, the prophet of God. If you’ve forgotten the story, it may be good to stop here and read that chapter, or else the rest of what I write in this section will make very little sense to you. The prophets of Baal had a loud, passionate worship gathering that lasted from morning till evening. When they were done, they had a great time of fellowship (I think you can call it that). But “no one answered; no one paid attention” (18:29). After all of that, Elijah prayed. God heard his prayer, and fire came down from heaven.
My favorite part of that story comes when it is all over and the prophets of Baal are saying, “The LORD—He is God! The LORD—He is God!” (18:39 NIV) They didn’t say, “Elijah is a great speaker” or “Elijah sure knows how to connect with God!” They were stunned by God. They were in awe of His power. They knew that what they experienced could not have been manipulated by Elijah. They experienced the power of God.
Is that what happens at the Christian gatherings you attend? Or does it feel more like what the prophets of Baal experienced before Elijah prayed? We can have a great time singing and dancing ourselves into a frenzy. But at the end of it, fire doesn’t come down from heaven. People leave talking about the people who led rather than the power of God.
… My favorite verse is quite possibly James 5:17, which reads, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently.” Don’t keep yourself from praying desperately and courageously for the Spirit to work in your life simply because you are not the prophet Elijah. As this verse says, Elijah was a human being with a nature like ours. . . The key thing about him: He prayed fervently.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m praying to the exact same God Elijah prayed to”? Do you genuinely believe that Moses, Esther, David, and Daniel had no advantage over you spiritually? In fact, some would argue that you have the advantage of both the risen Christ and the indwelling Spirit… I know that I tend to run from situations where I need God, and I think that is true of almost every one of us. It is safer to avoid situations where we need God to come through than to stake it all on Him and risk God’s silence. If Elijah had not had the courage to face down the prophets of Baal that day, if he hadn’t prayed fervently and courageously, then he would not have experienced God’s power in such a profound way… (pages 143 – 144, 149)
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