Ep042: Miracle Prayers

Hi, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me.”

When Elijah the prophet was ready to move on from this troublesome world, he went across the Jordan River with his disciple Elisha where they saw a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire. Elijah rode up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elisha picked up his master’s cloak, and began a ministry of miracles that surpassed even Elijah’s astounding record.

What kind of miracles did Elisha do? He helped a widow fill many large jars of oil from one small supply jar (2 Kings 4:5). He prayed over a widow’s dead son and brought the son back to life (2 Kings 4:35). He multiplied food, feeding a hundred men with twenty loaves and some ears of corn (2 Kings 4:42). He healed Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5:14). Jesus must have been inspired by Elisha, because he repeated may of Elisha’s miracles.

This brings us to an important and troubling question: Why was Elisha’s prayer life so powerful, and ours is so weak? Here are some possible explanations:

1.    Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive.” Elisha asked for miracles, and he got them. Maybe we should start asking. But I have asked, and it hasn’t worked for me.  

2.    Perhaps Elisha had more faith than we do. If we had more faith, would God do miracles for us too?
Maybe, or maybe not. I think there’s a spiritual mystery in the space between faith and miracles. It’s not a simple formula like like “more faith equals more miracles.”

3.    Here’s another explanation. God tends to work more miracles in times of crisis and change. In Elisha’s time, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was besieged by foreign powers, so they needed more miracles.

Maybe. But Elisha lived long before the final crisis when Assyria conquered Israel. He lived in the middle ages of the Northern Kingdom, when the people vacillated between God and idols, between military competence and military disaster. Ours is a similar age as western civilization fragments and decays. Much of the Christian church in the west aligns itself politically and culturally with godless leaders, exploitive policies, and unjust economics. If Elisha’s time was ripe for miracles so is ours! But where is the prophet who can bring them?

4.    Here’s another possibility. Perhaps it is God’s fault, not ours, that miracles aren’t happening in our culture. Perhaps in some ages God chooses to deliver his message with miracles. Maybe in our age God wants a different kind of miracle.
– Perhaps he wants people who are free of pornography
– Perhaps he wants people who value inner beauty above fashion
– Perhaps he wants communities who renounce the culture of individualism and learn to live together
– Perhaps he’s looking for a remnant to worship him in spirit and in truth
– Perhaps he’s looking for churches that preach less and love more, that listen to his Spirit

God shares his power freely for the tasks he assigns us. But how can we know what he wants us to do?  We can listen to him in the stories of Scripture, in the fellowship of Christian community, and in the witness of his Spirit in our lives.

Let’s pray.
Our father,
We live in an age of advertising, but your public relations department is silent.
We live in an age of spectacular sports events, but you don’t compete in the Super Bowl and the World Cup.
We live in an age of entertainment, but you aren’t challenging Disney and Fox News for market share.
We live in an age of celebrities, but you aren’t vying with Johnny Depp and Emma Watson for popularity.

What are you doing, God? And what do you want us to do? Help us shut out the clamor of the world and wait quietly to hear your voice. In the silence prepare us to do your work in the world.
Amen.

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

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