He didn’t see black clouds on the horizon. He didn’t see a storm brewing over the sea. He didn’t see rain or clouds forming on the mountain. He saw one small cloud, and back to Elijah singing, “I see a small cloud rising,” and that’s all Elijah needed to hear. He said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’”
Doubt hinders our prayers and blocks our blessings. This doesn’t mean that we won’t have questions. Job had all kinds of questions, but in the end, God blessed him double for his trouble. But doubt must not be allowed to win.
Paul told the believers, “The Lord is at hand” (v. 5), and then he said, “Be anxious for nothing” (v. 6a). The Greek word translated as anxious is merimnao, which means to worry about something or to be constantly anticipating that something bad is about to happen. Paul said, “Don’t do that.”
What is the longest you’ve ever prayed for something before God answered your prayer? When year after year goes by and it doesn’t seem like God is moving, at what point should we stop praying? I’d say if our prayers are in agreement with the Word of God and we are pursuing the will of God, then we should never stop praying. You may ask, “What if it takes years and it seems like time is running out on the possibility of an answer?” So what? Is anything too hard for God? Is God limited by time or distance?
We might wonder if God knows how we feel in those moments, after all, He is Almighty God and we are but finite specs of dust against the backdrop of the universe. How could He possibly know the pain of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment that we know?
In the case of our text, what Jesus has to say about prayer and faith must be never be isolated from the larger story and used to justify some kind of hyper-faith doctrine, which argues that any of us can have anything we want, any time we want it if we just have enough faith and are willing to speak our miracle into existence. That is not what the Bible teaches, therefore, that cannot be what this passage teaches. With all that, said, look again at our passage.
We cannot surrender to the culture and allow the currents of moral decline drive us away from our God ordained destination. Instead, we must “fight the good fight of faith [and] lay hold on eternal life “(1Ti 6:12). Don’t stop pressing, don’t stop pushing, don’t stop rowing in the right direction because deep in the midnight hour, God’s gonna turn it around. You are not alone. God sees you and He will come swiftly to your rescue.
It is evident from what follows that Jesus was physically exhausted. He was fully God, but He was in a fully human body that required nourishment and rest. It had been a long day of teaching, probably much of the time sitting or standing in the sun, and it was evening now. If Jesus returned to the shore, the people would have been all up on Him, pressing in insisting on healing and deliverance from demons. So, Jesus wisely said, “Let’s take a little boat ride to the other side.”
In closing, James reminds us of the power of prayer. This truth could not have come at a better time for first century believers, or for the twenty-first century believers. There is power in payer. Power to bring relief to those who suffer, power to heal the sick, power to forgive sin, and power to turn the heart of the wayward back to the Lord. James tells us that we don’t have to be a priest, a prophet, or an apostle to pray powerful prayers; we just have to live right and know who to call upon. The words “pray” or “prayer” occur seven times in eight verses, so prayer is clearly the theme of James at the end the letter.
If you could ask God for one, and only one thing, in your life, what would you ask for—more money, health, a long life? What would you ask? In fact, there’s an account in the Old Testament where God actually gave a man the opportunity to ask for anything he wanted, and this man asked for wisdom. You probably know the story from 2 Chronicles chapter 1—Solomon became king of Israel following his father David, and he became a great king because the Lord was him. One day Solomon went up to the tabernacle his father David set up for the ark of the covenant, and he offered a sacrifice on the bronze altar. That night, God appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”