Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God whom I worship and serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years unless I give the word!” ~ 1 Kings 17:1
The Old Testament prophet Elijah was a man just like us. Yet his prayer life probably differed drastically from ours. His prayers worked, whereas our prayer lives need an awful lot of help. When did Elijah learn to have such power in his prayer life? Where did he go to pray? What did he do? Hidden within this man was a vital life of prayer.
The prophet was born at Tishbe. It appears that he had godly parents; they named him after their God. Elijah was one of the many Old Testament names for God, and it meant “creator God.” Prayer was no doubt a regular part of Elijah’s life when he was growing up. Most people in Tishbe were shepherds, so maybe—like David the psalmist—he learned to pray prayers while in the shepherd’s fields.
That gives me encouragement. As a young mom, I struggled with being home with my young children all day. I wanted to be out where the action was. I had been used to being in the midst of all the excitement of youth work. Now, three children later, my worldview had shrunk to the confines of the four walls of our small home, and I felt useless and unimportant.
Then I realized I could use this season of my life to develop my prayer life. I lived in Tishbe! And from there I could travel anywhere in the world. Nothing could stop me from visiting my continent, and country, any town, village, or hamlet on the face of the whole wide world, and I could make a difference for God. All I needed to do was get down on my knees and get to work. After all, Elijah changed the course of history from an obscure corner of his world.
My life changed. I began to thank the Lord for this season of my life. I quit feeling sorry for myself and bought a map. It was during this season that I began to discover the conditions of prayer. I knew that the Bible told us to pray according to the will of God. And I understood that the will of God was revealed in the Word of God. So it was obvious that I needed to know God’s will through reading Scriptures. I began to search for and write down the will of God every time I found it in the passage I was reading. I learned that those who had never heard the gospel needed someone to tell them. I read, “How can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Rom. 10:14). So I began to pray about that, and as I prayed, I started to wonder how I could be the answer to my own prayer.
I believe this is what happened to Elijah. Look back at 1 Kings 17:1. How did Elijah get from Tishbe to Jezreel, where the king was? While keeping his sheep in Tishbe, I’m sure he prayed about the sinful condition of the nation. And God showed him how he could be part of the answer: Elijah, himself, could go to Jezreel and speak up where it counted!
I think back to my own life and ministry. And I can now see that my life in Liverpool was my preparation for my life in Lancaster. I think of my life in Lancaster, and I see that it was preparation for my life in Milwaukee. And I think back on my life in Milwaukee and see that this was preparation for my life in the greater environs of the world where I have been privileged to serve. Each season of life is important and leads to the next. God’s will must be learned each step of the way through the diligent study and application of the Word of God.
So how is this aspect of your hidden life? Are you diligent in searching the Scriptures in order to discern the direction your life must take? Or are you chaffing at life in Tishbe and planning to escape the boredom of small town living? Why don’t you pray about it? God may well leave us at Tishbe until we have learned solitude.
Once I stopped feeling sorry for myself and began to learn what to do with this forced solitude, I was well on the way to the next stage of my ministry. Tishbe can be a rural home setting, a sickbed, a life of singleness, widowhood, or a period of depression! Tishbe needs to be recognized, and Tishbe needs to be embraced and enjoyed before we are useful in our next location.
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