Listening for God’s Response
Elijah prayed, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that you are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their heart back again.” 1 Kings 18:37
I hear voices—not audible ones, but insistent ones. No, I’m not going insane. You’ve probably heard those voices too. “You’re no good,” and “You can’t do it,” they say. “Nobody cares. You’re all alone.” When I shrug off one, another replaces it.
Maybe the prophet Elijah heard similar voices after God had used him in a mighty demonstration of power in a contest with the priests of Ba’al (an agricultural god that many people worshiped at that time). In answer to Elijah’s prayer, God sent fire down from heaven to consume the offering Elijah had prepared (1 Kings 18:16-38).
But Elijah wore himself out physically. After his wonderful experience on Mt. Carmel, a threat from wicked queen Jezebel sent the prophet running for his life. She was angry about the defeat and death of her prophets.
Did Elijah hear voices say, “She will kill you. She’s killed hundreds of God’s prophets. You’re next”? Is that the reason he ran to a cave to hide?
In the cave, Elijah heard the voice of God. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9). God knew why Elijah cowered in the cave, but he questioned his prophet’s sudden lack of faith. Why hadn’t Elijah prayed about Jezebel’s threat just as he had prayed about the contest with the priests?
God told the prophet to stand on the mountain and wait for him to pass by. Elijah didn’t hear God in the strong wind or the earthquake or the fire (1 Kings 19:11–12). God’s voice came, not as a loud insistent voice that caused him to fear but as a gentle whisper. God reassured Elijah that he wasn’t the only prophet still alive. Then he gave Elijah another job to do.
I’ve learned that I’m more susceptible to hearing the wrong voice when I’m tired. The insistent voice of the devil tells lies and instills paralyzing fear. God’s voice is strong but gentle, giving encouragement and guidance. If we pray for wisdom, God will enable us to distinguish between the voices.
Do you listen to the right voice—God’s gentle whisper?
Elijah’s prayer on Mt. Carmel was not his first powerful prayer. Read 1 Kings 17:8–24. Where had God sent him? What resulted from his prayer?
We often think people such as Elijah are much more spiritual than we are. What does James 5:17–18 say about Elijah? Can we pray as effectively as he did? Why?
Nancy J. Baker