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)
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 other 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.
The 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.
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.