Have you ever played tug-of-war? It’s a game where you have two teams, equally divided, gather on opposite ends of a rope and when the whistle blows, each team pulls with all their strength to try and pull the other team to their side. It seems to take forever for the rope to start moving in one direction or the other, but once it starts moving, it seems to go quickly. Winning takes concentration, commitment and the willingness to press through, even when it doesn’t look like anything is happening. You have to lean into it.
Elijah understood what it meant to be to be fully committed. He also understood the importance of pressing through when it appeared nothing was happening. Israel had been without rain for a long time. Not just a few days or weeks, but years. Elijah had prophesied this would happen in 1 Kings 17:1. In 1 Kings 18:41 Elijah tells the king “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” At the time, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was a clear day, yet he told the king rain is coming, then he climbed the mountain, assumed the birthing position and began to labor for rain [1 Kings 18:42]. Elijah’s servant reported to him whenever Elijah requested a weather report and each time the servant returned to proclaim “There is nothing there.” He did this six times [1 Kings 18:43]. However, on the seventh time, the servant reported there was a cloud the size of a man’s hand above the sea [vs. 44]. That’s all it took for Elijah to be energized and encouraged. He sent his servant to King Ahab to tell him, “Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.” Elijah had put his full weight into his prayers and saw the rope of his prayers starting to move in his direction. The first six times he had labored in prayer, he saw nothing happen, yet he didn’t give up. He didn’t throw in the towel. He continued to contend until he saw a move of God.
So many times we quit at the threshold of breakthrough and never see a mighty move of God. Those who participate in the mighty miracles of God aren’t more spiritual than us. They don’t possess some gift we don’t have. We, too, can experience might miracles if we’re simply willing to invest the blood, sweat, and tears necessary to pray them into existence. Elijah didn’t pray for a few minutes between each weather update. It took time. Many of us pray a time or two for something and if we don’t see it happen we say, “I guess it wasn’t God’s will.” It may be the Lord wants us to fight for it through prayer to teach us about perseverance. We may contend for something for days on end before we see a move of God. I’ve contended for something for seventeen years before I saw it happen, but it did happen.
What do you need to see God do in your life or the life of a loved one? What do you want to see happen in our nation? Are you willing to put in the time and energy of contending prayer? Will you sacrifice other things in order to make time for prayer? What you plant in prayer, you’ll reap in life.
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