Prayer in Troubled Times
I Kings 17:17-24
The widow clung to the lifeless body of her son. All was gone now. The long sustained drought had wrung her soul dry leaving it crusted and crumbled. But at least through that horror, she had her son. But now he too was gone. The child had been her morning smile, her evening laughter, a reason for living. But now barren rooms in the small house were silent. He was gone, taken by some hideous sickness that struck without warning or mercy. And so all she could do now was to pace restlessly back and forth across the floor as if trundling from wall to wall could somehow erase the pain.
When Elijah stepped into the room, the widow’s reaction was instantaneous. She exploded, channeling a pent up rage at the prophet. “You call yourself a man of God? Look what has happened. My only son is dead. I took you in and look how you repaid me. It’s your fault he’s dead. You brought me bad luck. You put my son to death!”
The little widow turned the Prophet wanting only to be alone with her grief. Elijah, taken by surprise, paused for second to two and then stepped up to the woman. “Give me your son,” he demanded in a stern tone, indignation evident on his face. Elijah took the boy from his mother’s protective bosom and carried him upstairs to the upper room where he was living and laid him on his bed.
“Why, Lord, why did this happen? Did you slay the boy?” The prophet pelted the Lord with edgy questions. He didn’t play games with God. He just wanted to know what happened, and he sought the core of the conundrum.
But then when the questions were exhausted, Elijah put aside his cross- examination of the divine mysteries and stretched himself upon the child three times. This time, he approached the Lord with a new intention. This time, he prayed. “O Lord my God, I pray Thee, let this child’s life return to him.
F. S. Webster said in his sermon Out of the Depths, “There are deep mysteries in life which yield to nothing but prayer.” And so it was that God heard this prayer and responded by breathing life back into the boy.
Elijah’s pattern of prayer is valid for us today. He prayed with a measure of frustration laced with honesty and doubts. Then he paused and prayed again with faith asking specifically for life.
So no matter how burdened your heart may become, let your final exhalation always be a prayer of faith and hope.