On the morning of September 11, 2001, Rick Rescorla was on the 44th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower when a large jet rammed into the North Tower. Officials told everyone to stay put, but Rescorla ignored them. A Vietnam veteran in charge of corporate security at Morgan Stanley, he aggressively evacuated the company’s 2,700 employees to safety—six died, but the rest made it. He himself died when the South Tower collapsed.
Rick Rescorla sacrificed his life saving others. Elijah was also a true hero, putting his life on the line to call the Israelites back to the Lord. He’s also a perfect illustration of yesterday’s principle, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (v. 16).
In saying that Elijah “was a human being, even as we are” (v. 17), James didn’t mean to say that he was just an average guy. James was emphasizing that the amazing miracles were the work of God, not Elijah. God had control of the three-year drought and the rains that finally came. Elijah simply prayed (v. 18). As we recall the story, as doubtless James’ Jewish readers did, this miracle took place immediately following the dramatic confrontation with the priests of Baal and Asherah on Mount Carmel. Elijah had also prayed there, and God had answered him with fire. The people had responded, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” (1 Kings 18:39).
If God is in control of all that happens in nature and human history, how can prayer make a difference? Because our Lord delights in the prayers of His people. We might not understand the ways that God’s sovereignty accommodates our prayer, but we can believe His Word and obey His command to pray.
We admire Elijah but might think, “I could never be like him.” Think again! He didn’t possess any superpowers. He was simply faithful in prayer. God is the One with the superpowers, and prayer is our direct line to Him. In other words, James was saying, “You, too, can accomplish great things in prayer, because our God is above all!”