"What the Heck?!" A Prayer God Always AnswersMay 09, 2023
There are times that my prayers aren't very nice. I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes forget myself when I blurt out the first thing on my mind (or rather on my heart); especially when things happen that I'd never let happen if I had the power God has.
Isn't that the thing? We sometimes overstep our boundaries when we come to God in prayer because we reason in our tiny minds that what He's allowing is NOT what is good. We wrestle because we're taught that...
"God is good.
All the time.
All the time.
God is good."
And because I'm confessing that I am guilty of praying "What the heck?!" prayers, I want to share with you what I found in the Bible. I mean, God knew there would be people like me when He made certain this day was recorded in Scripture for us to read about today.
What I'm about to share with you is something I learned while preparing the Mother's Day message for Thompson Station Church. I'll post a link to the message here when it's been recorded. I also make a podcast of this part of the message, you can go listen to it on the Leighann McCoy podcast. If you want to read along with me, go to I Kings 17.
When Elijah found the widow in Zarephath, she was gathering wood to cook her last meal and prepare to die. Once Elijah hears how desperate her situation is, he says–that’s nice; go ahead with your plan, but instead of eating the bread you make for yourself, feed it to me. Then, make bread for you and your son–if you do this, your flour and oil will never run dry as long as this drought lasts.
This is where I wish the Bible gave us more detail–I like to put myself into the story. And in this story, I am the widow. I’ve been scrimping and scraping for more days than I can count. My son and I are both skin and bones, we are weak, we’re hopeless, and we don’t know when this drought is going to end–for all we know it’s here forever. We’ve got no idea what’s waiting for us on the other side, but we’re so close to death’s door that we’re about to fall across the threshold. The only thing standing between us and death is this final loaf of bread.
And now, this stranger is asking us to feed him with it!
We’re going to take what we know we’ve got and give it away because he’s promised us that God will provide what we don’t got. Elijah is going to eat what’s HERE, and we’re supposed to eat what’s not here! Why doesn’t he eat what’s not here, he’s the prophet?!
And that’s where my identifying with the widow ends. Because the Scripture tells us in I Kings 17:15 that,
“She proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah. She and her household ate for many days.”
God came through on His promise! Let me tell you a secret: HE ALWAYS DOES.
But just when the widow’s faith is growing and her friendship with Elijah is developing, her son gets sick and DIES!
What the heck?!
This is where I get this woman!! Look at verse 18,
“Man of God, what do we have in common? Have you come to remind me of my guilt and to kill my son?”
Don’t we have a harder time with tragedy when we know God personally?! I mean, He’s the God of love who’s looking out for us! Why does He let such terrible things happen?!
Think about it, the widow had already accepted the inevitable death of her son. But then, Elijah came along and gave her HOPE! Not only did she have hope, but she had the daily experience of God giving her bread. She was depending on Him.
As a result of Elijah coming into her home–she was overcoming the sense of not being good enough for God to love her. It wasn’t something that miraculously happened. It was a slow, daily process. Years of insecurity, guilt and shame were slowly being replaced with a tentative, fragile faith in Elijah’s God.
All of that was destroyed when her son got sick, and immediately the widow was bombarded by all the reasons she couldn’t rely on anyone other than herself. This God of Elijah was obviously out to get her. He was just as she’d thought He was–an impossible to please God of harsh judgment who couldn’t be trusted.
And then we get the first glimpse into Elijah’s prayer life…I Kings 17:19-21.
“But Elijah said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ So he took him from her arms, and brought him up to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the LORD and said, ‘My LORD God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow I am staying with by killing her son?’ Then he stretched himself out over the boy three times. He cried out to the LORD and said, ‘My LORD God, please let this boy’s life return to him!’
How about that? Elijah was a man, just like us. (This is what James 5:17 says.) His prayer was just like mine would have been! His is a “what the heck?!” prayer too! He echo’s the widow’s pain, but he does it privately just between him and God.
Elijah prayed fervently. 3 times he literally put himself on the boy crying out for God to give his life back. He’s begging God! Asking for exactly what he wants.
How often would Elijah have prayed his prayer? I think as many times as it took.
And don’t miss verse 22,
“So the LORD listened to Elijah’s voice, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.”
WOW. The LORD listened to the voice of a man, just like us and answered his prayer.
I love this widow! And again, I can identify with her..look at verses 23-24 in I Kings 17,
“Elijah took the boy, brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. Elijah said, ‘Look, your son is alive.’ Then the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know you are a man of God, and the LORD’s word in your mouth is true.’”
She had deeper faith because of the unimaginable ordeal she's just endured. With her son's death and life, this woman’s relationship with God just went far beyond what it had been before.
If you are in a place where you can’t make sense of God–a place where He’s terribly disappointed you–a place where you question His motives and His actions–or His in-action; hang in there. Chances are that the day is coming when you will see His power and love –a day when you will experience the depth of His goodness and you will join this widow in proclaiming, “Now I know…”
Don't forget to go listen to the podcast and check out the Mother's Day message (after May 14). :)
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