I’ve been thinking about Elijah. I know, I know—who doesn’t? But I’d like to invite you to think along with me.

Elijah shows up in 1 Kings 17 out of nowhere. From this “out-of-nowhere-ness” comes these, um, I guess we could call them challenging words for the king of Israel, Ahab:

“As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”*

Okay, Elijah! Was this prophetic word spoken just after Elijah said, “Greetings, King Ahab”? We’re not told whether Ahab knew Elijah before this or not. Regardless, it might be just a bit discomforting, if you’re a leader, to have a prophet tell you that it’s not going to rain in your country for three years.

Now, we can assume that the Lord told Elijah to do this. So, why would the Lord tell Elijah to pray that this would happen? When James wrote to tell the Church that the fervent prayer of a righteous man has great power, he said, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth (James 5:17).

Why would Elijah pray such a thing? Why would the Lord tell Elijah to prophesy such a thing? The answer is pretty easy when you know the spiritual condition of Israel at this time and that of its leader, Ahab. Israel had departed from her God, and He was going to let His people know that He wanted them to return to Him.

These kinds of things seem harsh to us. Why would God be so cruel? Three and a half years without rain? But let’s look at it from an eternal perspective. What is God most concerned about—your comfort and length of life on this earth or whether you know Him or not? Clearly, we know that the answer is that what is most important is that we know Him. We know this because He allowed Himself to be tortured and crucified in order to bring His lost ones to Him. Such deprivations are not cruel. They are merciful.

What I find interesting about what Elijah did is that he knew that he, too, would be deprived of water and food for three and half years. He, a righteous man and a prophet of God, was going to go through the same hardship that Israel went through. Now, we know that God arranged for Elijah to be taken care of. He was fed by ravens and by a widow who had some miraculously supplied oil and meal. But I kinda doubt that those ravens were able to bring Leg O’ Lamb burgers or big loaves of bread to the prophet. I would assume he was eating some pretty small portions. In spite of this reality, Elijah was willing to pray this drought-inducing prayer. In fact, he prayed it before he knew that the Lord was going to send ravens or arrange meals with the widow.

So, a question for us. Regardless of the country you now live in, is it a stretch to say that the majority of the individuals in your nation have turned away from God? Or, if we want to make the analogy more spot on, to say that a large part of God’s people have in many ways turned away from God? Would you then be willing, like Elijah, to pray that the Lord would bring a three year drought to your nation so that people would turn to Him, knowing that you would be suffering, too? What is more important to the Lord? That we have our bellies full every day or that we know Him?

We already know the uncomfortable answer to that question.

Last week, I began to pray this dangerous prayer. I do this with fear and trembling. I like to eat as much as the next guy. I like comfort and security as much as anyone else does. But I’ve had to face the reality of what is happening in our nation and in our churches.

Would you be willing to pray this dangerous prayer with me?

*Bible quotations are taken from the English Standard Version