Uncomfortable

uncomfortable prayer

So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. (1 Kings 18:42)

Read: 1 Kings 18:1-46, Acts 11:1-30, Psalm 135:1-21, Proverbs 17:12-13

Relate: This scripture about Elijah’s prayer is one of the few times in scripture where we are not told “what” a person prayed but we are told “how”. That how can actually be interpreted in two different ways and if you are reading this alone I would encourage you to try them. On the Standing-forward-bendother hand, if you are at work, the library, Starbucks (like me, but I have done it in the past), or somewhere else public perhaps it would be best if you left it to your imagination for the time being.

The first of these two interpretations is a standing position and I am not nearly flexible enough to do it. At the top of the mountain, Elijah bowed low so that his body is pretty much doubled over. Perhaps you are able to pray from this position but I would break in half long before I even got close. There isn’t a chance I could do that and I have some serious doubts that Elijah was that limber.

o-CHILDS-POSE-570The other way you could read this verse is from a kneeling position. At the top of the mountain, Elijah, knees to the ground, bent low so that the top of his head would be touching the ground with his face toward his knees. For me this one is actually possible but only with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. I think this is how Elijah was praying and it fits well with the KJV saying he cast himself down on the earth. No matter how we read his prayer positioning, two things are very clear: 1) It is uncomfortable. 2) He could see nothing around him. This is why he had his servant, multiple times go check the clouds while he prayed on.

Praying is not necessarily something that is easy or comfortable. In his prayer Elijah intentionally shut himself from the world around him. In addition we learn that Elijah continued in prayer until he saw an answer, but once he had one, he immediately acted on it. Also, even though God already spoke through Elijah what was going to happen, it did not come until Elijah prayed it into existence. Elijah’s praying was: painful, private, and persistent, the result was promised and required pursuant action.

React: For me prayer is not nearly as easy as pushing that snooze button is. It is not nearly as comfortable as watching the NBA Finals or a Champions League match. It doesn’t come close to being as fun as heading down to the park. But sometimes, often, I need to shut off the things of this world that crowd around me. I need to climb up that mountain and cast myself to the ground in humility before my Father. God is going to move, but I need to position myself through prayer or else I will end up getting caught in the coming storm. once I have come to that uncomfortable place of prayer, I need to pray through. A “polite request, thank you, and now on with my day” simply will not cut it. I need to pray. Pray again. Again. And then some pray some more. After that I must keep on praying until I have received my answer. God’s promises are real. They are valid. They are for today. For some reason, God has chosen to unlock them for us through prayer and sometimes that key seems to need a little elbow grease for the lock to turn.

Respond: 

Let it rain. You have promised to pour out Your Spirit. It will happen. A storm is coming like nothing this world has yet seen. God, let it come. Help me, help us to find ourselves in a position of prayer that we might be ready when it comes. Make us ready so that when the winds begin to blow, we will be ready to run with it. Until then, do not let us become comfortable. Let us persevere in calling out for You.

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25 thoughts on “Uncomfortable

  1. Just curious if you are reading the One Year Bible as well. Today’s reading was this very story of Elijah. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Great post. For me, prayer is almost a constant conversation with God when I’m not proccupied with life. It’s “chattting” with HIM as I drive, or just talking to HIM silently as i go about my day. It’s taken me a long time to realize that prayer doesn’t have to be an intimidating endeavor, but a casual conversation with a friend who already knows, but wants to hear I t from you.

  3. I have seen a great increase in the fullness, strength and intensity of my daily prayers since beginning to do so in full surrender position. I agree that what we do in the physical does affect the spiritual. Full surrender is best.

  4. I really try and continually pray to the Lord, all throughout the day in whatever it is that I am doing, so that I can be directed by Him. Perhaps, by praying is such a way as Elijah did, we open ourselves to be a catchment for all the blessings he is raining down upon us.

  5. Wow! Talk about a need to Pray! I love how you take the scripture and make it applicable to where I am. This was exactly what my heart needed to read today. Thank you, and May the LORD bless you always!

  6. Physical position makes a difference in prayer. When I am bent low, my body corresponds to my heart’s desire to be vulnerable before the LORD. It’s a shame we (I) don’t do it more often. When I do, I rise refreshed and my spirit is renewed. Thank you.

  7. Prayer is the part of my faith I struggle with most often. The rest of life gets in the way and I “forget.” How silly is that? Thanks for today’s post, I needed a reminder to get out the daily devotional and pray.

  8. I love that prayer is simply talking to God and then quietly listening, mostly listening. I believe prayer is not only vocal, but also physical, like when we cry, shake with fear, etc. because the Holy Spirit interprets more than our words. I truly believe that after years and years of daily suffering and hearing His whispers. Life is a mystery. The one thing that is most difficult to understand is suffering, the whys of it. I think I do because without it, we could not identify with each others. Beautiful post. Thank you.

  9. I just emailed some friends about this coming storm. I believe it is coming, I believe we have to pray, cry out to God for it. Thank you for the encouragement, the insight, the reminder that like Elijah we pray til it happens and it can be uncomfortable but only to the flesh – the spirit thrives on it!!

  10. This made me smile- I just signed on after a couple weeks of not checking up on blogs and saw your headline- 1 Kings 18- last week God brought me to that story and WOW so much in there it’s crazy…so when I saw your post just now I perked up…even better is that on Friday (the day you posted) I heard God telling me similarly- He’s bringing rain..seeing it as one thing needed to bring forth life. That night as I sat a little discouraged around a fire with my friends- feeling as though the convo just wasn’t going in the way I had hoped (towards Jesus and God’s goodness…) I felt a couple rain drops…and also felt Him say..”See..I am bringing the rain”..I went inside and about 20 minutes later a nice down pour rolled in 🙂 It was great – thx for the post! So encouraging to me!! God is doing something in this world- and it’s good…it will bring life! – I am in prayer- but with eyes WIDE open, I have already felt the first raindrops!

  11. There are many references to tears in the Bible (Ps. 42:3, 56:8, 126:5, John 11:35, Acts 20:19, 2 Kings 20:5, Heb. 5:7 and Acts 20:31) Tears are a viable and valuable form of prayer. A gift from God. There is another form of prayer, however, that can reach levels of intensity marked only by the Holy Spirit as a burden to bring forth something new.

    This prayer, the prayer that births, is more commonly known as travail. Travail is a birthing anointing; (without travail we will not birth anything); to bear, to have a conception and then deliver it; to be disgusted or to feel disgust; to feel faint, grieved, weary, distressed or troubled. To toil and writhe in pain; to feel a weight upon you. To put to grief, intense pain, agony. It’s a type of burden bearing. “He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrow. He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.” (Lamentations 3:12-13)

    Travailing prayer isn’t something that you can muster up on your own. Only God births travail. It can come upon you at any place and any time. It is a prayer for all times and a prelude to all seasons. I believe God is calling His people to travail again. We have only just begun to birth the new things of God and we won’t know what this travail is until we yield to it….

    Travail brings forth the very purpose of God: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8: 22-26)

    Extract from the Prayer that Births by Jimmie Sue

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