Prayer is a mystery. Simple enough so that children can pray; so complex that it takes a lifetime to explore. What is clear is that prayer begins and ends with God. God invites us to pray; in response, we turn to God in prayer. As we pray, we get to know God for who he is, and God accomplishes his purposes through our prayers.
Elijah’s prayer in 1 Kings 18:36-37 is a wonderful example of a Bible prayer that acknowledges God and accomplishes God’s purpose:
“Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Note how Elijah takes into account who God is — “LORD” … “God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel” … “God in Israel.” When a person recognizes God for who he is, shows reverence for God, demonstrates a concern for God’s reputation, he or she is acknowledging God. This means the pray-er will not God’s honor, glory, character, and sovereignty. Look through Elijah’s prayer and identify each of these factors in his prayer. They’re there!
- Honor — good name; reputation
- Glory — outshining/demonstration of God’s attributes
- Character — qualities; traits; essential nature
- Sovereignty — supreme excellence, power, and rule
Note how Elijah’s prayer is directed towards accomplishing God’s purpose … “these people will know that you, Lord, are God.” Prayer serves God’s purposes before it serves ours. When a person prays “Your Kingdom come, your will be done,” he or she is praying that God’s purpose is accomplished. Look through Elijah’s prayer and identify the purposes of God he prayed. I count five!
What happened when Elijah prayed? God answered his prayer in a way that glorified God and accomplished God’s purpose. If you want to experience answered prayer, give God a good reason to answer. Start with acknowledging God, and be sure to pray that God’s will is accomplished. Those are the kinds of prayers God can answer!