Prayer and The Bible
Prayer a Powerful Spiritual Force
"Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:22‑24)
None of God’s people would think of praying for the removal of a mountain except he knew, from the study of the word, that the heavenly Father had made this imperative in the outworking of His Plan. Then he would pray without doubt in his heart that the mountain be cast into the sea; for he knows that no power in existence can prevent the fulfilment of God’s will as revealed in His Word of Truth.—Luke 1:37
According to the words of Jesus, prayer is superior to the physical laws of nature. When Elijah prayed that it might not rain in the land of Israel God heard his prayer, and in response so ordered climatic conditions that rain could not fall. For Elijah’s prayer was the expression of the Divine will as previously recorded by Moses, namely, that if the people of Israel forsook Jehovah and served other gods, he would make the heavens like brass and the earth like iron; he would restrain the rain and dew. (Deut.28:23‑24) In these days the nation had disobeyed the Lord’s command and worshipped Baal; therefore Elijah declared boldly in implicit faith in the power of his God to perform that which was written: "As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." (1 Kings 17:1) James tells us that Elijah "prayed earnestly that it might not rain." (James 5:17) He was a man subject to like passions as we are; and his prayer was honoured because uttered, not only in harmony with the Divine will, but also with the ultimate blessing of the people in view. When, on the exposure of the false prophets, the disillusioned Israelites acknowledged their fault and publicly renounced Baal and proclaimed Jehovah as the true God, Elijah besought the great Creator of all to again fulfil His Word in blessing the land with rain; for the nation had been cured of its sin sickness. —Deut.28:12‑14; 2 Chron.6:26‑31; 1 Kings 17:21‑24; James 5:15‑18
God has never been without his witnesses; and while those faithful servants (the most prominent of whom are enumerated in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews—see also Heb.12:1) could not comprehend the full significance of their words and works, they evidently expressed correctly the details of the will of God due in their times, that all might receive realization. These details of the Plan were necessary to be accomplished in the days of the early witnesses; they were types of greater enactments in a later period, or served as example for the instruction of the heavenly Father’s spiritual children.
Through the faithful office of his discerning servant Elijah, God was enabled to foreshow a greater fulfilment of that word which He at the first uttered by the mouth of Moses in the law, and again through the saying of Solomon at the consecration of the temple. (Compare 1 Kings 16:31; 18:13, with Rev.2:20; 11:6.) We refer to the 1260 symbolical "days" in the Gospel Age (i.e..3½ symbolical years. Each day in the type represents a literal year in the antitype), when the refreshing showers of God’s truth were shut off. (Deut.32:2; Isa.55:10,11) This was while the apostate church‑state system, named the Antichrist, held the sovereignty of the world, a dreadful period well prefigured by the evil reign of Jezebel and her pliant husband King Ahab. Like Elijah, who had providential sustenance through the drought in Israel, so the Lord’s faithful people during the corresponding antitypical interval of the spiritual famine, when they were in the "wilderness" condition, received the miraculous nourishment from the Word of Life. (Rev.12:6) It was the simple, unwavering trust and obedience of Elijah, which made possible this important type and lesson. What far‑reaching influences are attached to the prayers of the faithful! What great honour it is to be so used by God!
The heathen god Baal was the representation of Satan himself, the one‑time brilliant spirit being who, lifted up in pride because of his beauty, became the adversary of the Almighty. (Ezek.28:11‑19) As the "god of this world" (2 Cor.4:4) he seduced for a season the covenanted people of the Lord, assuming for the purpose this title of "Baal" (lord). But the prayers of Elijah overcame the oppressing power which the evil one had exercised upon God’s heritage. The prayer of faith, expressing the revealed will of the great Law Giver as written in His Word, had set in motion even the physical forces of nature to vanquish the devil, that the Divine purpose might run the appointed course; for the nation of Israel was typical and could not be diverted by any contrary spiritual influence continuously.—Isa.14:24‑27
In assuring us that nothing at all can resist the power of the prayer of faith, Jesus seems to exaggerate in his instance of the mountain. But this is not so, for there are laws in existence more firmly founded than mountains, which can be removed by prayer. We have referred to the universal "law of sin and death" as it now holds sway since the fall of man. This law would be immovable were it not for the ransom sacrifice of Christ. A natural upheaval, or unremitting manual labour, can remove a mountain. Nothing but prayer, however, according to God’s arrangement in Christ, can enlist the aid of that law which will reverse the present law of sin and death. (Rom.8:2) Therefore, although natural forces when set in motion by God in response to prayer are impressive, the Christian knows that spiritual forces excel them.—John 14:12,13
We do well to note that Jehovah does not permit us to comprehend and use spiritual powers unless we are in close contact with Him, mostly in secret prayer. (Matt.6:6) Knowledge of the Scriptural plan of salvation is not of itself sufficient to establish the quality of faith that is necessary. We must know the heavenly Father Himself and have fellowship with him and his Son, if we would gain the acceptable faith; and in this connection it is profitable to consider the following texts: Matt.11:25‑27; John 17:20‑26; Eph.1:15‑18; 3:14‑19; Col.1:9‑11; 2 Pet.1:2,3; 1 John 1:3‑7.