Unlocking Rain With Fire & Pouring Water On the Altar

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters eighteen and nineteen of this New Testament book. “And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:1-8). [“And it came to pass, that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught His disciples. And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil” Luke 11:1-4]. [“And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto Him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in His journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall friend; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him? Luke 11:5-13].

                  DO YOU PRAY WITHOUT CEASING? WILL YOU PRAY WITHOUT CEASING? WILL YOU PRAY WITHOUT GIVING UP? WILL YOU PRAY WITHOUT FAINTING? WILL YOU PRAY WITHOUT LOSING HEART? HOW STEADFAST IS YOUR PRAYER LIFE? HOW FIRM AND RESOLVED ARE YOU WHEN YOU PRAY? HOW MUCH BOLDNESS DO YOU HAVE WITHIN THE PRAYER CLOSET? WILL YOU FAINT BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD? WILL YOU PRAY ALWAYS? As I approach and come near the words found within this opening passage in the eighteenth chapter I am immediately brought face to face with the tremendous need for endurance within the prayer closet. What’s more, is I am also brought face to face with the powerful reality that we have great need of boldness when and as we approach the throne of grace to ask for mercy and grace to help in time of need. It was the apostle Paul who wrote unto the saints which were in Rome how they needed to continue instant in prayer, and who wrote unto the Ephesian saints concerning “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Furthermore, it was the apostle Paul who wrote unto the Colossian saints encouraging and instructing them to continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving, and unto the saints in Thessalonica to pray without ceasing. It is absolutely undeniable when reading these passages found within the epistles written by the apostle Paul that there is a tremendous need within our hearts and our souls for endurance—and not only endurance, but patient endurance—when we come before the Lord in prayer. The more you read and study the Scriptures the more you will encounter and come face to face with the truly incredible and powerful truth that when it comes to prayer there is a great need for more than simply our praying before and unto the Father who is in heaven. It’s one thing to pray within our secret closet of prayer, and it’s one thing to pray upon the altar in the house of the Lord as we cry out to and seek the Father, however, it’s something else entirely to pray and to do so without ceasing, to do so without fainting, to do so without giving up, and to do so without losing heart. Oh there might very well be men and women who are great at praying, and who might very well be great pray-ers, however, there are very few who are not only great at praying, but are good at praying continually, praying often, praying fervently, and praying without giving up.

                  As I attempt to unpack this a little more within this writing I feel compelled to call and draw your attention—not only to the fifth and final chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James, but also to the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings. It is within the fifth and final chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James we find a powerful narrative and declaration concerning the prophet Elijah, and it is in the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings we find the backdrop and the foundation for the words which are located in the epistle written by James. There is not a doubt in my mind that we must needs read both of these passages and both narratives closely and carefully, for they both help illustrate the incredible need within our hearts and our lives for patient endurance and boldness within our prayer lives, and within our secret closets of prayer. I continue to believe that it is one thing to pray before the Father who is in heaven, but it is another thing to continue to pray before and unto our Father who is in heaven. It’s one thing to offer up a prayer to our Father who is in heaven, and once we feel we have said what we needed to say, and once we feel we have perhaps said enough, we cease our praying. Pause for a moment and think about how often and how many times you have perhaps offered up a prayer before the Father who is in heaven, and yet once that prayer has been finished and completed you have simply ceased praying, and haven’t lifted up your voice concerning and regarding that request? How many times have you come before the throne of grace and before the One who is seated upon that throne, and although you might have offered up a prayer before Him, you have given up in your prayer? I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are a number of men and women who are great pray-ers, and a number of men and women who are great at praying in terms of knowing what to say and how to sound good when praying, but there are very few among us who are good at praying without ceasing, and praying without giving up and without losing heart. I do not believe it is any coincidence that at the end of this parable Jesus spoke concerning the judge and the importunate widow He would ask the question whether or not the Son of man will find faith in the earth. There is a strong and powerful link between endurance in prayer and faith within our hearts and souls, for the two cannot be disconnected from each other. In fact, I would dare say that it is impossible to pray without ceasing if your faith is shallow, if your faith is non-existent, and if your faith has no endurance, no stamina, no boldness, and is unable to be steadfast and unmovable.

                  Upon reading the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the epistle written by James you will find him writing and speaking about the prophet Elijah, and how the prophet Elijah was a man of like passions as we are, and yet was one who had a patient endurance, and a steadfast fast within his heart and spirit. When writing concerning this Old Testament prophet James would powerfully and profoundly speak concerning him, and how although he was a man who prayed, he was not a man who gave up in prayer. James wrote and spoke of Elijah the prophet and described him as a man of like passions as we are—and not only how he was a man of like passions as we are, but also how he was a man who prayed and who prayed that what he was asking for might be accomplished. Permit me to pause for a moment and ask you who might be reading these words—not whether or not you pray, but whether or not you pray that you might receive what you are praying for. When you pray—do you pray to receive what you have asked for, and to receive what you are asking for, or do you pray as a means of obligation, as a means of duty, and as a means of somehow fulfilling what might be required of you? When you pray, do you actually pray without doubt in your heart and truly believing that you can and will receive what you pray for? What’s more, is I would dare ask do you even believe that when you pray your prayers accomplish anything in the natural or supernatural realms. When you come before the Lord your God in prayer, and when you lift up your voice before Him—do you pray with the earnest and eager expectation that you can and will receive that which you have asked for, and that which you are asking for? If you are truly being honest with yourself and with the Lord your God—do you even believe your prayers accomplish anything? When you pray before and unto the Lord your God—do you have this expectation and anticipation that not only does God hear you, but also that God can and will give you what you ask for? I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found within the same New Testament epistle written by James concerning prayer, and concerning that which we ask of the Father in prayer. It is within this same New Testament epistle James would pen some powerful truths concerning prayer—and not only prayer, but also concerning faith and endurance in prayer. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the opening chapters of this New Testament epistle:

                  “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. IF any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:3-8).

                  It is quite obvious and clear when reading the words which are found in this passage of the New Testament epistle written by James that it is not only necessary for us to ask of God who is our Father in heaven, but when we ask we must ask in faith with absolutely nothing wavering. Pause for a moment and consider how provocative and challenging those words are, for with, by and through them James brings us face to face with the reality that it isn’t enough simply to pray and to ask of God what we will, for we must also ask without wavering and without doubting. It is within these verses James encourages us to ask in faith what we will of the Father without wavering in our hearts, and it within these verses James would go on to declare that he who wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. What’s more, is James would go on to write and declare of this individual who wavers, this man who doubts, this man who does not ask in faith that he ought not to think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord, and is truly and indeed a double-minded man and unstable in all his ways. In al reality, we read these words and must acknowledge and come face to face with the truth that when we pray we must not only pray, but we must pray with faith, we must pray with boldness, we must pray with courage, and we must pray without doubting. We must needs remember that at the end of the parable Jesus spoke concerning the unjust judge and the importunate widow He would go on to ask the question whether or not He would find faith upon the earth when He returns. It is actually worth thinking about and considering these words, for they are incredibly convicting, as well as challenging within our hearts, within our souls, and within our lives. It is with these words we are brought face to face with the powerful and undeniable truth that when we pray—we must not only pray that our voices would be heard, but also that our prayers would be answered. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—there is a vast difference between praying to be heard, and praying to receive. Permit me to make that statement one more time, for I feel it must needs resonate within your heart and your spirit—There is a vast difference between praying to be heard, and praying to receive. Anyone can pray to be heard, and anyone can pray that their words be heard by men—and even by the angels in heaven, by the great cloud of witnesses surrounding the throne, and by the One who sits upon the throne—however, there are very few who pray to actually receive what they have asked for. It is with this in mind I would not only ask you whether or not you pray that you might receive, but whether or not when you pray you pray believing, expecting and anticipating that you can and will receive what you have asked and are asking for. Considering all of this very closely and carefully I feel it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written and recorded by the apostle Matthew:

                  “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore ilke unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debotors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:5-13).

                  “Therefore I say unto you, Take not thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns: yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:25-34).

                  The words which are found within these passages not only reference praying to be heard, and praying to be seen of men, but the words found in these verses paint a very clear picture of using vain repetitions when praying before and unto the Lord. It would be when speaking concerning prayer Jesus would emphatically declare that we ought not to be like the scribes and the Pharisees who pray to be seen and heard of men, nor be like the Gentiles who use vain repetitions when praying. Moreover, Jesus would declare that those who use vain repetitions think that by their much speaking and their many words they will be heard by the Lord in heaven. We must needs pay close and careful attention to these words, for within these verses we come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that there is a vast difference between praying to be seen and heard, and praying to actually receive that which we are asking for. There are a number of men and women who are great at making long prayers, and using flowery speech, and praying that they might be heard and seen of men, but there are very few among us who are actually willing to pray that they might receive that which they ask for. In all reality, I am convinced that there are two underlying currents surrounding our praying with full assurance and expectation to receive what we are asking for—the first is faith within our hearts and our spirits, and the second is a knowledge that our heavenly Father knows what things we have need of before we even open our mouths and lift our voices before Him in prayer. Stop and think about that for a moment, for Scripture emphatically declares that our heavenly Father knows exactly what we have need of before we ask Him, and how that truth and that knowledge can not only fuel our faith, but it can also allow us to approach the throne of grace not only praying to be heard by men, but to actually receive that which we have asked and are asking of the Father. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this powerful truth, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are countless men and women among us who are great at praying to be heard and seen of men—much like the scribes and Pharisees during the days of Jesus—and yet there are very few who are actually able to pray that they might receive what they are asking for. It is one thing to pray to somehow be seen and heard—regardless of whether seen and heard by God, or by men—and it’s another thing to pray expecting and anticipating our receiving what we have asked for of the Father. I find it absolutely necessary to ask you who are reading these words whether or not you pray expecting to receive that which you are asking for, or whether you pray simply because you know and have been taught that it’s the thing to do when you are in need, when you are in trouble, when you are encountering something that is much bigger and much greater than you.

                  I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think about the challenging and convicting truth whether or not we pray more so out of a sense of obligation, duty and responsibility, or whether we pray because we truly believe that we are going to receive what we ask of the Father who is in heaven. Oh it is true that we might be going through something, and it is true that we might experience something unexpected and not anticipated, and when we pray before the living and eternal God we pray—not out of a sense of expectation thinking and believing that we will receive what we are asking of the Father, but because we have been taught that it’s the thing to do when we find ourselves in need, and when we find ourselves in trouble. How many times have you prayed—not necessarily because you truly expect and believe within your heart that you can and will receive what you have asked for of the Father, but rather because it is something you have been taught and trained to do. It is incredibly tragic to come before the Lord in prayer and to pray out of a sense of duty, out of a sense of obligation, and out of a sense of responsibility rather than firmly believing that we can and will receive what we have asked and what we are asking of the Father who is in heaven. It is truly something powerful to think about and consider the fact that those who ask in faith without wavering are those who actually believe within their hearts that they can and will receive what they have asked for and what they are asking for. This is perhaps the single greatest truth surrounding the narrative of Elijah, for he was a man of like passions as we are, and yet he did not pray solely to be heard of men, but he prayed that he might receive what he asked for. Whether it was praying unto the Lord that He might send fire down from heaven upon the altar and sacrifice atop Carmel, or whether it was praying unto the Lord asking for rain after three years of drought, Elijah prayed expecting to receive what he asked for from the Lord. Elijah didn’t pray atop Carmel so as to be heard by the prophets of Baal, nor even that he might be heard of the people of Israel, for if and as you read the narrative which is found in the Old Testament book of First Kings you will find that Elijah never specifically came out and asked for the Lord to send fire down from heaven. We know from the narrative and passage how Elijah declared that the God who answers by fire is the true God who is worthy to be worshipped and served, however, when the time came for Elijah to pray before and unto the Lord he never came out and asked that the fire might be sent down from heaven. This is actually quite telling and powerful when you take the time to think about it, for it highlights and underscores the awesome truth that the Lord our God knows what we have need of before we even ask Him. In the case of fire coming down from heaven the Lord God of heaven and earth knew that Elijah had need of the fire, and without even asking for the fire to come down from heaven the Lord would respond by sending the fire down from heaven. Pause for a moment and think about that incredibly powerful truth, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that not only does the Lord our God know what we have need of before we ask Him, but He is also willing to answer, respond to and give us what we have need of before we ask Him. It is with this in mind I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James, as well as the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings:

                  “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any otgher oath: but let your year be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if He have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that I 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 5:5-18).

                  “…And ELiah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORED; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken” (1 Kings 18:21-24).

                  ”…And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pout it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God” (1 Kings 18:29-39).

                  ”And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah: and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:41-46).

                  THE EFFECTUAL FERVENT PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN AVAILETH MUCH! HE PRAYED EARNESTLY THAT IT MIGHT NOT RAIN! AND HE PRAYED AGAIN! If there is one thing I so absolutely love about the narrative of Elijah it’s that James describes him as a man of like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly. What I so absolutely love about the words which are found within the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James is that not only does he write that James was a man of like passions as we are, but he also went on to declare that he prayed earnestly—and not only that he prayed, but that he prayed earnestly. The more I read and consider the narrative that is found concerning Elijah is that when he prayed before the LORD God in heaven he never asked for the fire to come down, nor did He ever ask that the LORD would answer and respond by fire. The prophet Elijah would declare unto those who were present atop Carmel that the God who answered by fire was LORD, and then allowed the prophets of Baal to call upon Baal, to prophesy, and to cut themselves while moving round about their altar before he himself would begin to repair the altar and call upon the LORD. I absolutely love how the prophet Elijah called upon the name of the LORD there atop Carmel, and how it would be there atop the mountain the LORD would respond by sending fire down from heaven. This narrative surrounding the prophet Elijah is quite astonishing and captivating when you think about and consider it, for not only did Elijah pray before the LORD, and the LORD would answer and respond by sending fire from heaven, but Elijah would also pray unto the LORD that it might rain again, and the LORD answered by sending such a great and torrential rain. What we must realize and recognize when reading the words found in the epistle written by James is that he declared how Elijah earnestly prayed that it might not rain, and the LORD answered and responded to his prayer by shutting up the heavens for a space of three and a half years. As I sit here today I can’t help but think about and consider the awesome and incredible fact that the living and eternal God allowed a single man to not only shut up the heavens, but also to open the heavens—and to do so through prayer. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for through prayer the living and eternal God allowed this man to shut up the heavens and to make the heavens as bronze for a space of three and a half years.

                  In the Old Testament book of First Kings we find Elijah emphatically declaring and proclaiming that it would not pray except by his word, and in the New Testament epistle written by James we find that Elijah actually prayed unto the LORD that it would not rain. What’s more, is James wrote how Elijah didn’t merely pray, but how Elijah prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and the LORD answered by shutting up the heavens for a space of three and a half years. IF you continue reading you will find James going on to describe how Elijah earnestly prayed that it not rain upon the earth, and the LORD answered by shutting up the heavens for a space of three and a half years, and then Elijah praying again, and the LORD causing the heavens to open up and give rain. ELIJAH PRAYED! ELIJAH PRAYED AGAIN! Please pay close and careful attention to the words found within this passage of Scripture, for the words we find written here bring us face to face with the incredibly powerful truth that not only did Elijah pray, but Elijah prayed again. Oh, it’s one thing to pray, however, it’s another thing to pray again. It’s one thing to pray, it’s one thing to even pray again, but it’s another thing to pray seven times. James would write that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, and within the text found in the Old Testament book of First Kings we find Elijah praying seven times that the LORD send rain upon the earth, and it would be on the seventh time his servant went and looked over upon the sea that he saw a cloud rising from the sea which was the size of a man’s hand. There seems to be every indication that Elijah didn’t merely pray that the LORD not send rain upon the earth, but that Elijah prayed and continued to pray that the LORD not send rain upon the earth. I would dare say that with the same intensity, with the same fervency, and with the same passion and zeal as he prayed that it might rain, so also would Elijah initially pray that the LORD would cause rain to cease from falling upon the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that Elijah not only earnestly prayed unto the LORD that it might not rain, but Elijah also earnestly prayed—and prayed again—that the heavens might be opened, and that the heavens would give forth rain. How incredibly powerful it is to think about and consider the awesome and incredible truth surrounding Elijah, for not only did Elijah pray, but Elijah prayed again. Oh that we would recognize and understand just how significant this is, for there are many of us who might pray, but oh how very few of us would pray again. There are many of us who would pray to be seen and to be heard, and yet there are very few of us who would pray expecting that we receive what we are asking for. There are many of us who pray that we might be heard by both God and man, and yet how very few of us pray with the expectation and anticipation that the LORD actually respond to our prayers and give us what we ask for.

                  I have to admit that I absolutely love how James writes that the effectual fervent prayer avails much, for not only does he directly link and tie together the concepts of effectual and fervent, but he also links them together with the truth and reality that they avail much. It’s worth noting and pointing out how James didn’t say that the effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much, nor did James write saying the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. What’s more, is James didn’t declare that the effectual fervent prayer of a man availeth much, but rather that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Not only this, but James also didn’t right that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth little, or that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth something. As you take the time to truly read the words which are found within these verses you will find the direct link and connection between “effectual” and “fervent” as well as “righteous,” “availeth” and “much.” If you want to truly understand and comprehend just how important these words truly are it is absolutely necessary to understand the intrinsic link between prayer and righteousness—and not only prayer and righteousness, but also the righteousness of men and women who pray, and how their righteousness and their prayer can indeed accomplish and avail much. OH the question I find myself asking is how much are our prayers accomplishing within the earth, and within our generation. How much have your prayers truly accomplished within your life, within the lives of others, and even within this generation? How much have our prayers as the Church truly accomplished within our generation, within our culture, within our society, and within our nation? How much have our prayers truly accomplished within and for the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth? When you open your mouth to pray, or when you pray within your heart and/or your mind—do your prayers actually accomplish anything, or are your prayers simply nothing more than routine and rote words which you pray out of a sense of duty, obligation, and responsibility.

                  I am sitting here this afternoon thinking about and considering our prayers within this generation and within the culture and society in which we are living, and I find myself asking if our prayers are truly accomplishing something among us. When you open your mouth to pray—can your prayer(s) and can your praying(s) be considered effectual and fervent? Moreover, when you pray, can it be said of you that the effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man or a righteous woman is availing much? James writes in the fifth and final chapter of the epistle that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, and then goes on to describe what that looks like. Elijah was a righteous man whose effectual and fervent prayer(s) accomplished much, for not only did Elijah earnestly pray that it might not rain, but so also did Elijah pray again that it might rain, and that the heavens might be opened. What I so love and appreciate about the narrative of the prophet Elijah is that his prayers would not only shut up the heavens that it might not rain, but so also would his prayers unlock and open the heavens that it might rain once more. Not only this, but Elijah would pray before and unto the LORD, and the LORD would respond to and answer him and his prayers by sending fire down from heaven upon the altar. It’s something worth noting that before rain would fall upon the earth fire would fall upon the altar. I am absolutely and completely convinced there is something here which must be understood and recognized, for how often and how many times have we been looking for rain to come upon the earth, and yet what is needed first and foremost is fire upon the altar? How many times have we sought the face of the LORD that it might rain upon the earth—essentially that the LORD might heal our land—and yet that which is needed above and more than anything is fire falling down from heaven upon the altar? It’s interesting and worth noting that when speaking unto Solomon by dream during the night the LORD would declare unto him that if His people which were called by His name would humble themselves and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then would He hear from heaven, and forgive their sins, and heal their land. What is found within this passage is a powerful truth and a powerful reality that first comes forgiveness of sins and then comes the healing of the land. This is perhaps seen the clearest in the narrative of Elijah and the people of Israel, for although it hadn’t rained in three and a half years, the LORD would not send rain upon the earth first. There was a work which needed to be done upon the earth, and within the hearts of His people that far outweighed and was far more important than the need for rain. Despite the fact that it had not rained upon the earth for three and a half years, and despite the fact there was a drought in the earth the LORD would not immediately send rain, but would instead choose to send fire upon the altar.

                  WHICH IS GREATER—FIRE UPON THE ALTAR OR RAIN UPON THE LAND? WHAT IS OF GREATER NEED IN THIS GENERATION—FIRE UPON THE ALTARS OF OUR CHURCHES, OR RAIN UPON THE LAND? WHAT IS OF GREATER IMPORTANCE AND VALUE DURING THESE LAST DAYS—FIRE UPON THE ALTAR, OR RAIN UPON THE LAND? I absolutely love that it was not only the righteousness of Elijah, but also the effectual and fervent prayer of Elijah that accomplished much during those days, for Elijah would pray and the heavens would be shut up and there would not rain. Not only this, but Elijah would pray and the heavens would be unlocked that the fire of God and the fire of heaven might fall upon the altar and consume the sacrifice. Moreover, Elijah would pray again and the heavens would be opened, and would give forth their rain upon the land. There is not a doubt in my mind that it was the effectual fervent prayer of Elijah that would unlock and open the heavens that it might rain upon the earth, however, I am convinced that the heavens weren’t merely unlocked to give forth rain through the prayer of Elijah, but it was also fire which unlocked the heavens. I firmly believe and am absolutely and completely convinced that it was the fire of God which came down from heavens which first unlocked the heavens, for unlocked heavens appear to be directly linked to the prayers of the righteous, as well as fire upon the altar. PRAYERS OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND FIRE UPON THE ALTAR! Do you want to truly see healing rain being poured out among us within this generation and within the culture and society in which we are living in? I am absolutely and completely convinced that if you truly want to see that rain which brings healing within our nation, within our cities, within our towns, within our neighborhoods, within our churches, and within our homes there not only needs to be the effectual fervent prayers of the righteous, but there also needs to be fire upon the altars. Within the narrative of the prophet Elijah—not only do we see righteousness being put on full display, and not only do we see the effectual and fervent prayer of Elijah being put on full display, but we also see the fire of God falling upon and consuming the sacrifice which was placed upon the altar.

                  Oh dear brother, dear sister—please recognize and understand that as surely and as much as you desire to experience the healing rain—perhaps within your home, perhaps within your neighborhood, perhaps within your city, or perhaps even within this nation—there is a great need for the prayers of the righteous and the fire of God upon the altar. Elijah would indeed pray before and unto the LORD that it might rain, however, Elijah wouldn’t first ask for rain in the sight and hearing of all the people. Elijah wouldn’t pray for rain in the sight of the people in order to demonstrate the authority, the power, the dominion, the might, and the strength of the LORD, but rather, he prayed for fire to come down from heaven, and fire to consume the sacrifice upon the altar. Not only this, but Elijah would emphatically declare that the God who answers by fire was the one true LORD. I have to admit that I absolutely love what I find within this narrative, for although Elijah would pray again that it might rain, and the heavens were opened and would give forth its rain—Elijah wouldn’t use rain as the means of demonstrating the authority and dominion of the LORD. When it came to a witness within that generation, and when it came to demonstrating that the LORD was truly only God, Elijah would declare that the God who answered by fire was the one true and living God. There is not a doubt in my mind that it was the fire of God which came down from heaven, and it was the fire which consumed the sacrifice upon the altar that truly unlocked the heavens and made it possible for Elijah to pray again that the LORD might once more open the heavens and cause it to rain. Oh, Elijah would indeed pray again, and Elijah would indeed pray that the LORD would send the rain, however, Elijah would first pray before and unto the LORD that He might answer and respond by sending fire upon the altar and upon the sacrifice. This is something which must needs be carefully considered, and carefully thought about within our hearts and our minds, for more often than not we try and pray for the rain to be poured out without realizing and without recognizing that what is needed above and beyond the rain—or I should say what is needed before the rain is poured out—is the fire coming down from heaven and consuming the sacrifice and the altar. Before the LORD can and before the LORD will open up the heavens by sending rain upon the earth once more there must first be the work of fire that needs to take place upon the altars among us in our midst. We cannot, we must not, we ought not to pray for the rain alone thinking and believing that the rain is what is needed most above anything and everything else. It might have been three and a half years since it has rained upon the earth, and yet what the LORD desires to do above everything else is send fire upon the altars of our churches, and fires upon the altars of our homes, and fire upon the altars of our prayer closets.

                  WHEN THE WORK OF THE FIRE PRECEDES AND MAKES WAY FOR THE WORK OF THE RAIN! If there is one thing the narrative of Elijah provides us with it’s the absolutely awesome and incredible picture that even though it had not rained on the earth for three and a half years, and even though the lack of rain had produced a drought within the land, the single greatest need would not necessarily be for rain, but rather for a confrontation and showdown of fire atop the mountain of Carmel. Before the heavens would and before the heavens could be opened the LORD would first raise up Elijah to confront the prophets of Baal, as well as the compromise and the divided hearts of the people with a showdown of fire atop and upon Carmel there in the land of Israel. The LORD would indeed send forth His rain upon the earth, yet before He would send rain upon the earth He would first need to send fire upon the altar. It is the fire which comes down from heaven that unlocks the heavens to give forth its rain, and it is fire upon the altar that prepares the earth to receive the rain and to bring forth its fruit. IT IS THE FIRE WHICH UNLOCKS THE HEAVEN AND PREPARES IT TO GIVE FORTH ITS RAIN, AND IT’S THE FIRE UPON THE ALTAR THAT OPENS UP THE EARTH TO GIVE FORTH ITS FRUIT! Thus, what we must realize and recognize is that not only does the fire unlock the heavens that it might give forth its rain, but so also is it the fire which unlocks and opens up the earth to give and to bring forth its fruit. IT IS THE FIRE THAT UNLOCKS THE HEAVENS TO GIVE FORTH ITS RAIN, IT’S THE FIRE THAT OPENS UP THE EARTH TO GIVE FORTH ITS FRUIT! IT IS THE FIRE WHICH OPENS AND UNLOCKS THE HEAVENS AND OPENS UP THE EARTH! THE FIRE IS NOT ONLY LINKED TO THE RAIN, BUT IT IS ALSO LINKED TO THE FRUIT! It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading these words how although Elijah would pray before and unto the LORD that the heavens might open up and give forth its rain after three and a half years of drought, the greater need during those days—even before the rain would fall—was the heavens to be unlocked and the fire of God coming down upon the altar.

                  The more I think about and consider the narrative of Elijah and how he was a man of like passions such as we are who earnestly prayed and who prayed again, the more I can’t help but be brought face to face with the fact that the LORD unlocking the heavens and sending rain would have been easy to do during those days, as the people were used to seeing rain. The people who lived during those days weren’t like those who lived in and within the days living up to the time of Noah. Up until the time of the great flood upon the earth the inhabitants of the earth had not seen rain, for the LORD would cause a mist to rise up from the ground. From the time of the flood and thereafter, however, the LORD would send rain and snow upon the earth, which would help irrigate it. Even though there had been a three and a half year drought during the days of Elijah because of his earnest praying—had the LORD responded by sending rain it would have been something the people during those days had seen before, and that which they were accustomed to seeing. For the LORD, however, to send fire upon the earth was something that was entirely and altogether different. Oh I absolutely love that before the LORD would give the inhabitants of the land something they had seen before—even something they had need of during those days—He would first have to give them something they had not seen before, and something they did not know they needed. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—please do not miss the awesome and incredible truth surrounding these words, for had the LORD unlocked the heavens and sent rain upon the earth He would have done for and given unto the people that which they had seen in days past, and that which they were used to seeing. It would be during those days, however, the LORD would need to send something brand new—something they had not seen before, something they had not experienced before, and something they had not had any encounter with. The people had seen and witnessed rain upon the earth, and had the LORD sent rain once more it would not have been something that would have shaken and rattled the people of Israel. The LORD could have very well sent rain upon the earth and ended a three year drought, however, before He would end that drought, and before He would give the people that which they desperately needed—at least in the physical and natural realm—He would give them something they had absolutely no clue they needed in the supernatural realm. It would be during those days the LORD would need to do something entirely different, and entirely brand new which the people had not seen and had not experienced before, in order that He might truly capture the hearts of those within that generation. The LORD would unlock the heavens and send fire down from the midst thereof upon the altar, and upon the sacrifice that was upon the altar—and He would do so in the sight of all the people which were present during those days—that He might confront them with something they were not aware of, and something they had absolutely no idea they needed.

                  Oh I firmly believe and am absolutely convinced that despite the fact the earth desperately needed rain during those days the LORD was more concerned with the people, and with the hearts and minds within them. Despite the fact the earth needed rain during those days that it might once more bring forth fruit, there was something else entirely and altogether different the people of Israel would need. The LORD could have very easily have opened up the heavens and sent rain upon the earth once more, however, by simply sending the rain He wouldn’t have been doing anything different than what the people had already seen. Not only this, but the way the Scripture reads is Elijah praying before the LORD once and the LORD responding by opening the heavens and sending fire upon the altar and upon the sacrifice in the sight of all the people. When and as it pertained to the LORD opening up the heavens and sending the rain, however, Elijah would have to pray seven times before his servant would see a cloud the size of a man’s hand rising up from the sea. Please do not miss and lose sight of this, for I am absolutely and completely convinced it truly demonstrates and reveals something powerful within our hearts and lives—namely, that while it would have been easy for the LORD to send the rain upon the earth at the request of Elijah, He would make the prophet pray and seek Him seven times for the rain. When and as it pertained to the LORD sending fire, however, the LORD would only require the prophet to pray once. It would be the prophet Elijah who would pray before and unto the LORD that He might be glorified, magnified and honored in the sight of all the people, and it would be in response to that prayer the LORD would respond by sending fire down from heaven to consume the altar, as well as the sacrifice. We dare not, we cannot, we must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing reality, for it brings us face to face with the fact that when it came to the days of Elijah—days which were characterized by three and a half years of drought due to the heavens yielding no rain—before the Lord would open up the heavens and send rain He would first need to send  the fire. It would be the fire which would precede the rain, and it would be the fire that would make way for the rain that would ultimately fall upon the earth during those days. What’s more, is I would dare say that the earth would and could not be made ready to receive the rain if the altar had not been repaired first, and the fire of the living God falling upon the altar and the sacrifice.

                  The narrative we find surrounding the prophet Elijah is truly spectacular when you take the time to think about and consider it, for within the narrative we find the LORD doing something incredibly unique—especially during a time of drought and famine in the land. You would think the LORD would send the rain upon the land to end the drought and famine, and cause the earth to bring forth and produce fruit, however, before the LORD would ever send the rain He would first send the fire. Before the LORD would open up the heavens and cause the earth to yield fruit to serve as provision for the people of Israel He first needed to unlock the heavens by sending fire down upon the altar and sacrifice. Not only this, but I would dare say that had the LORD opened up the heavens and caused it to rain upon the land it would have only been the earth, the land and the heavens that remained opened. The LORD could very well and very easily have caused the heavens to open and caused the rain to fall upon the earth, and yet I am absolutely and completely convinced that while the heavens would have been opened the hearts of the people would have remained closed. Oh tell me dear reader—what good is it for the heavens to have been opened, and for the rain to fall upon the earth, and yet the hearts of the people remain closed. The LORD could have opened the heavens, and yet the people would have still had divided hearts, and the people would have still halted between two opinions. It would be there at Carmel the prophet Elijah would call upon the name of the LORD, and it would be there at Carmel the LORD would open the heavens and cause the fire to fall upon the altar and the sacrifice that the heavens would be unlocked to produce the rain, and the hearts of men would be unlocked to produce fruit. We know in the very next chapter when the prophet Elijah was speaking with the LORD that He had reserved seven thousand whose knees had not bowed to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him. This is incredibly important for us to realize and recognize, for the fire which fell down from heaven would have undoubtedly played a critical and crucial role in the opening of the hearts of men during the days of Elijah. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the heavens were opened, and when the fire of the living God fell down upon the altar and the sacrifice the hearts of the people were opened as well. I firmly believe that the LORD needed to first open the heavens and send fire down from the midst of it that the hearts of the people might be opened—and not only opened, but opened during a time and season of rain. Stop and consider how absolutely incredible it would have been for those present during the days of Elijah to first see the fire of heaven fall and consume the sacrifice and altar, and then to see, hear and feel the rain as it would fall upon the earth. Stop and consider for a moment what those days would have been like as the people would make their way down from atop Carmel after witnessing and beholding the fire coming down from heaven, and then the rain falling upon the earth.

                  IT WAS THE FIRE OF HEAVEN THAT MADE ROOM AND SPACE FOR THE RAIN TO FALL DOWN UPON THE EARTH! IT WAS THE FIRE UPON THE ALTAR THAT OPENED UP THE EARTH AND OPENED THE HEARTS OF MEN! I sit here today and am captivated with and by the absolutely tremendous reality of Elijah’s first prayer after three and a half years of living in days of drought, after spending a period of time living by a brook and being fed by ravens, and even after spending a period of time in a widow’s house was not a prayer unto the LORD to send rain upon the earth, but was a prayer in the hearing of the people of Israel that would open their hearts. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the fact that Elijah would pray before and unto the LORD in the hearing of all the people of Israel, and the LORD would respond by sending fire from heaven upon the altar which Elijah had repaired and built in the presence of Israel. I firmly believe that before the LORD would and before the LORD could open up the heavens to send forth rain He first needed to unlock the heavens with fire. UNLOCKING THE HEAVENS WITH FIRE THAT THEY MIGHT POUR FORTH THE RAIN! UNLOCKING THE HEAVENS WITH FIRE THAT THE RAIN MIGHT BE POURED OUT BEFORE AND IN THE PRESENCE OF A GENERATION! It is something truly remarkable to think about and consider how the heavens would be opened and unlocked with fire, and it would only be after the fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice upon the altar that they could then burst forth rain upon the land. Not only this, but you would think that the LORD would immediately respond after three and a half years of drought by sending rain upon the earth that the people might once more sow and reap, and that the earth might once more yield its fruit. The truth of the matter—and something I continue to believe within my heart—is that the LORD could have sent rain upon the earth, and the LORD could have caused the heavens to open that the earth might receive and drink the rain which fell upon it, but the rain itself wouldn’t have been enough to turn the hearts of the people back to the LORD. Although the rain was indeed and was in fact necessary it wasn’t enough to call and draw the hearts of the people back to the LORD and to heal their backsliding and divided hearts. This actually brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful and amazing truth that although there was that one thing which was so necessary in the land during those days—the LORD did not lead, nor did He open with that which was necessary in the natural realm, but rather that which was necessary in the spiritual and supernatural realm.

                  I sit here today thinking about and considering the fact that the heavens being opened and pouring forth rain upon the earth would have fulfilled and satisfied something that was necessary during those days in the physical and natural realm, and yet the LORD would and could not lead with the rain. THE LORD DOES NOT ALWAYS LEAD WITH RAIN! THE LORD DOES NOT ALWAYS BEGIN WITH RAIN! THE LORD DOESN’T ALWAYS LEAD WITH WHAT YOU FEEL IS NECESSARY IN YOUR LIFE! THERE IS A VAST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT YOU FEEL AS BEING NECESSARY AND WHAT THE LORD KNOWS IS NECESSARY! The inhabitants of the northern kingdom of Israel might very well have thought and believed that the rain was absolutely necessary within their lives and within the land, and yet the LORD knew and understood that what was ultimately necessary and what was most beneficial to them was fire coming down from heaven and consuming the burnt offering and sacrifice. Tell me dear reader—what is of greater worth and value—rain upon the land or fire upon the altar? WHAT’S THE GREATER NEED: RAIN UPON THE LAND OR FIRE UPON THE ALTAR? Taking this a step further I find it worth noting and mentioning that after Elijah had rebuilt the altar of the LORD according to the twelve tribes of Israel he would call for four barrels to be filled with water—filled with that which might very well have been a rarity and commodity during those days. What’s more, is that Elijah wouldn’t merely call for four barrels to be filled with water and that water poured out upon the altar and upon the sacrifice, but he would call for it to be done a second and third time. When it was all said and done there would be a total of twelve barrels of water that would be filled and poured out upon the altar and upon the sacrifice. There is something truly astonishing and worth noting when reading these words as water was something was most likely scarce during those days, and here we find Elijah calling for four barrels to be filled with water three times each—and not only filled three times each, but also poured out upon the altar. POURING OUT YOUR NEED UPON THE ALTAR! POURING OUT WHAT IS PRECIOUS IN YOUR LIFE UPON THE ALTAR! I find it truly astonishing and remarkable to consider the fact that when preparing for the LORD to answer and respond by sending fire from heaven Elijah would call for twelve barrels of water to be poured upon the altar and upon the sacrifice—not stored up during those days, but poured out. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for we would like to think that during those days water would have been stored up and held in reserve due to the drought that was in the land. Instead of being stored up and held in reserve in the midst of the drought Elijah would call for the water to be poured out upon the altar and the sacrifice. There is not a doubt in my mind that those who would witness this act would have thought and perceived this to be a tremendous and monumental waste as water was undoubtedly something that was difficult to come by during those days due to the drought. In fact, I can’t help but wonder where they got the water from atop Carmel there in the northern kingdom of Israel. Was there a stream or a brook that was present during those days they could draw from, or was water somehow held in reserve in that location? WHERE DID THE WATER COME FROM? WHERE DID THE BARRELS COME FROM?

                  ELIJAH WOULD CALL FOR THE POURING OUT OF THAT WHICH MANY WOULD HAVE THOUGHT NEEDED TO BE STORED UP! ELIJAH WOULD CALL FOR THE POURING OUT OF THAT WHICH MANY WOULD HAVE THOUGHT NEEDED TO BE HELD IN RESERVE AND THAT WHICH NEEDED TO BE HELD BACK! I happen to find this absolutely astonishing and captivating when you take the time to think about it, for more often than not if we want the supernatural and the miraculous to be manifested within our lives we must be willing to pour out and release that which we would rather store up and hold back. In all reality, this principle was manifested in the house of the widow as this widow was prepared to use what little oil and meal she had left for herself and her son that they might eat and die, and yet the prophet would call for her to pour that which was scarce out—and not only pour it out, but pour it out that she might provide for the prophet and the man of God. Oh please don’t miss this, for there is an awesome principle that is found here which is directly linked to prayer—and not only to prayer, but also to the LORD opening up the heavens and pouring out what is absolutely necessary within our hearts and lives. During those days there was a great need for rain, and during those days water might very well have been hard to come by, and yet Elijah not only called for four barrels to be filled with water, but he would also call for those barrels full of water to be poured out upon the altar and the sacrifice. This also reminds me of another place in scripture when barrels were filled with water and then its contents poured out that it might satisfy others. Of course I am speaking of the wedding at Cana when Jesus and His disciples were invited to—a wedding in which the wine ran out and Jesus’ mother Mary came unto Him with the absence and lack of wine. In response to this Jesus would instruct them to fill six barrels to the brim with water, and then to draw from the barrels and give to the master of ceremony at the wedding. Of course the narrative reveals how the master of the ceremony would taste the water which had been turned into wine, and did not know the miracle that had taken place. What a truly wonderful reality and concept it is to think about how during the days of Elijah that which most would have thought would have needed to be stored up and held in reserved would actually be poured out. It would not only be the earnest prayer of Elijah that would cause the LORD to respond by fire, but it was the pouring out of that which was scarce during those days, and the pouring out of that which many would have assumed hold back and keep in reserve. How captivating it is to read how not only was that which was scarce during those days poured out, but it was also consumed by the fire which came down from heaven. WHEN THAT WHICH IS POURED OUT IS CONSUMED BY THE FIRE OF HEAVEN! When the fire came down from heaven—not only did it fall upon the altar and consume the sacrifice, but it would also lick up all the water in the trench round about the altar, as well as the dust of the earth there in that place.

                  The more I read and the more I consider these words the more I am brought face to face with the wonderful that more often than not in order to give us that which we need the LORD asks and requires of us to give up and to pour out that which we would rather hold back and that which we would rather keep in reserve. There are times within our lives when the LORD desires to give us what we need—perhaps even that which has been lacking in our lives for a period of time—and yet before He can give us what we have need of He first asks us to pour out what we would assume needs to be held in reserve. Perhaps the underlying question we must ask ourselves is what is the LORD calling, what is the LORD instructing, and what is the LORD inviting us to pour out? What is the LORD asking us to pour out which we would in our natural hearts and minds assume keep in reserve and hold back? Elijah called for four barrels to be filled with water, and to this day we have absolutely no knowledge or understanding where the water came from. The only thing we know is that four barrels were filled three times each, and each time they were filled they would be poured out upon the altar and the sacrifice. What makes this even more interesting and unique is that the pouring out was different from the offering and the sacrifice that was upon the altar. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs pay close attention to this, for I would dare say that there are times within our lives when that which we are being called to pour out is completely and vastly different from that which we have placed upon the altar as a gift and sacrifice. We have been taught to think and believe that the pouring out is the same thing as the sacrifice and that which is placed upon the altar, and yet what we find in this passage of Scripture is the sacrifice and offering being placed upon the altar, and then the pouring out of the water upon the altar and the sacrifice. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this awesome truth, for there is not a doubt in my mind we have been called to not only place our sacrifice upon the altar, but we have also been called to pour out that which we might and would be tempted to hold back and keep in reserve. It’s reminiscent of the woman with the alabaster box whom Judas and the disciples thought should have sold and the money given to the poor rather than the jar being broken and the contents being poured out upon the feet of Jesus. I absolutely love how Elijah not only called for the barrels to be filled but also to be poured out—and not only filled and poured out, but filled and poured out three times. In other words, it wasn’t to fill the barrels once each and then pour out the contents thereof once, but this act would need to be poured out a second and a third time. Oh that we would get this within our hearts and our spirits, for we have been called by the living God to not only be filled, but to be filled and poured out—and not only filled and be poured out, but filled and poured out over and over again.

                  BEING FILLED, BEING POURED OUT! BEING FILLED AND POURED OUT ONCE! BEING FILLED AND POURED OUT TWICE! BEING FILLED AND POURED OUT THREE TIMES! POURING OUT THAT WHICH WE WOULD OTHERWISE HOLD BACK! POURING OUT THAT WHICH WE WOULD RATHER KEEP IN RESERVE! POURING OUT UPON THE ALTAR THAT WHICH WE WOULD PERHAPS NEED IN OUR HOMES! POURING OUT UPON THE ALTAR WHAT WE COULD PERHAPS USE IN OTHER AREAS WITHIN OUR LIVES! HOW OFTEN HAVE WE BEEN HOLDING BACK WHAT WE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO POUR OUT? HOW LONG HAVE WE BEEN HOLDING BACK WHAT WE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO POUR UPON THE ALTAR? HOW LONG HAVE WE BEEN HOLDING BACK WHAT WE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO POUR OUT UPON THE SACRIFICE? The narrative of Elijah atop Carmel is one that is actually quite powerful when you take the time to think about how there in the sight of the people—not only did he repair the altar, and not only did he arrange the sacrifice there upon the altar, but he would also call for the pouring out of that which was perhaps incredibly hard to come by. One thing you will notice about this particular passage of Scripture is how Elijah called for four barrels of water to be filled with water and that water then poured out upon the sacrifice—and not only once, and not only twice, but three times. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this reality and concept, for it has the awesome and incredible ability to transform how we view sacrifice within our hearts and our lives. You wouldn’t think about taking water and pouring water upon the altar and upon the sacrifice, and yet here on this particular occasion this is exactly what Elijah did. In essence—not only did Elijah pour out that which was scarce and perhaps incredibly hard to come by during a drought, but it’s almost as if Elijah made it incredibly difficult for the LORD in the sight of the people. It’s one thing for the LORD to send fire upon a dry altar and upon a dry sacrifice, and yet that was not what Elijah did on this particular day, for Elijah would completely saturate and completely soak the altar and the sacrifice with that which men would rather have held back and kept unto and for themselves. I am absolutely and completely fascinated with and by this concept of pouring water upon the altar and upon the sacrifice, for there is something truly powerful about taking that which we would rather hold back and that which we would rather keep unto and for ourselves and pouring it upon the altar and upon the sacrifice. In fact, if you read and search the Scriptures you will not find a single occurrence when this act would happen again. There is not a single place within Scripture outside of this narrative where water was poured upon the altar and poured upon the sacrifice, as water would have made it incredibly difficult for the fire to burn upon the altar, and for the sacrifice to be consumed by fire.

                  I have to admit that there is something incredibly powerful about filling up these four barrels with water, and then taking that water which could have been used for drinking, which could have been used for cooking, which could have been used for bathing, which could have been used for a number of other things, and pouring it out upon the altar and the sacrifice in the sight of the people. By the time Elijah was done not only would the entire altar and the whole sacrifice be drenched and soaked with and by the water that was poured out upon it, but so also would water fill the trench round about the altar. AN ALTAR DRENCHED WITH WATER AND IN THE MIDST OF WATER! I would absolutely love to have been there on this particular occasion when and as you saw these barrels of water being poured out upon the altar and the sacrifice, for there is not a doubt in my mind that there would and could have been those who would have perceived this is a monumental and colossal waste. Not only this, but up until that time and those days water had never been poured out upon the altar, nor had water ever been poured out upon the sacrifice that was upon the altar, and  yet here on an occasion when Elijah declared unto the people and set the expectation that the God who answers by fire is both LORD and God we find Elijah drenching the sacrifice and the altar with water. It is absolutely and incredibly powerful to think about the fact that in order for the fire of the living God to be poured out upon the altar and upon the sacrifice there would first need to be a pouring out of that which would otherwise be held back. In all reality, we might dare say that this pouring out of that which would otherwise be held back is and was a picture of the human heart and the tremendous need to pour out that which we would otherwise hold back. There is not a doubt in my mind that these barrels of water were entirely and altogether representative of the twelve tribes of Israel, for when it was all said and done there would be a total of twelve barrels of water being poured out upon the altar and the sacrifice. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this, for it has the ability to dramatically alter and change how we view sacrifice, and how we approach and come near to the altar.

                  As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I have to admit that there is something to be said and something to be pointed out about the filling up of these barrels—and not only the filling up of these barrels, but also the pouring out of the contents which were contained therein, for before the fire would and before the fire could come upon the altar and the sacrifice there would first need to be a pouring out. What’s more, is that this pouring out would like the twelve stones which were used to build the altar represent the whole house of Israel and the twelve tribes which would come forth from Jacob. In fact, Scripture makes it abundantly and perfectly clear that Elijah took those twelve stones and arranged them to build an altar before and in the sight of the people, and how the twelve stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel. Not only this, but we must also recognize that not only did the twelve stones which made up the altar represent the twelve tribes of Israel upon which the sacrifice would be offered, but so also would the barrels represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Oh that we would recognize and understand this, for not only do we have the tribes of Israel represented in the altar itself, but we also have the twelve tribes of Israel represented in the pouring out. In all reality, that which we find within this passage and within this narrative is not only the nation and house of Israel being the altar upon which the sacrifice would be placed and offered, but so also would the nation and house of Israel be that which would be poured out upon the sacrifice, and that which they would pour out upon the altar and the sacrifice. There is not a doubt in my mind that the twelve stones and the four barrels which were used three times each represented the house of Israel, and how the house of Israel was not only that upon which the sacrifice and offering would be arranged, but also how the house of Israel was that which would pour out upon the sacrifice and offering that which they would otherwise, and that which they would rather hold back and keep unto themselves. In other words, not only did the house of Israel need to be the altar upon which the sacrifice could be placed and the fire of heaven could fall down upon, but the house of Israel would also be that which was poured out and that which would pour out upon the sacrifice that which up until that time they had held back and that which they had kept from the true and living God. Oh it wasn’t enough for the altar to be repaired, and for the altar to be built, and for the sacrifice to be arranged upon the altar, but there was also a great need for water to be poured out upon the altar and the sacrifice that both he altar and the sacrifice might be completely and altogether drenched and soaked with and by the water. It would be from that place of being built and repaired as an altar, and with and from that place of being poured out and pouring out upon the altar and upon the sacrifice that which we would rather hold and keep back.

The question I must needs ask and leave you with when reading this particular narrative is whether or not you, and whether or not your life can be poured out upon the altar and upon the sacrifice that the fire of God might fall from heaven upon the altar, upon the sacrifice, and even upon the water in the sight of others. In a time of drought, and even in a time of famine—during days when what might be needed more than anything—there is a great need for the people of God to be built up and repaired as altars before the LORD upon which the sacrifice and offering can be placed. Not only this, but during such days—during such days of Elijah within this generation—there is a great need for men and women to not only be poured out upon the sacrifice, but also to pour out upon the sacrifice that which they would rather hold back and keep for and unto themselves. There is a great need for men and women to be the altars upon which the sacrifice and offering could be placed and arranged, and to be those who would pour out upon the altar and upon the sacrifice their hearts, their worship, and that which they would rather hold back from the LORD, and that which they would rather hold back—particularly and especially during times of drought and during times of famine. “But God you know this could be used for something else. But God you know that I can’t really pour this out right now. God you know I can’t really give this up right now. You know that I have greater need of this than it being poured out upon the sacrifice and upon the altar. God you know that I have more need of this than it being poured out upon the altar and upon the sacrifice. God, why would you ask me to pour this out upon the altar and upon the sacrifice? God, isn’t it enough to have the altar rebuilt and repaired, and isn’t it enough to have the sacrifice and offering upon the altar? Now you’re asking me to pour out that which I would rather hold back and keep to myself during such difficult and trying times?” Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—if there is one thing I would leave you with during these days and during these times it’s the truth that not only is there a great need for the lives of men and women to be rebuilt and repaired before the LORD, and not only is there a great need for sacrifices and offerings to be placed and arranged upon those altars, but there is also a great need to pour out and to give up that which we would otherwise hold back, and that which we would otherwise keep for and unto ourselves. Oh that we would recognize that we have not only been called to be the altar upon which the sacrifice can be placed and offered before and unto the LORD, but also that we have been called to pour out before and unto the LORD that which up to that particular point in time we have held back and kept in reserve. Oh that we would be a people who would are not only able to be rebuilt and repaired as an altar before and unto the LORD, but also that we might allow ourselves to be poured out, and that we would allow ourselves to pour out that which up until that time has been held back from the one true and living God.

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