The first thing to do when you arrive under the broom tree is to quit everything. That’s right, give yourself permission to collapse. Elijah didn’t pretend or remonstrate: he didn’t sulk or pout. He simply said, “God, I’ve had it!” Elijah was experiencing serious burnout: “I have had enough, Lord” (1 Kings 19:4). Listen to him, and then be encouraged to be this honest yourself when your turn comes. God wants us to say whatever we want to say. He doesn’t care what we say as long as we keep talking. “Talk to me,” He says. “Yell if you want, you won’t faze me.”
Think of the parent dealing with a child who is thoroughly upset. There is nothing worse than being subjected to the silent treatment. If only we can get the child talking, we can do something toward resolving the issue. God feels like that about His children. It is not that He needs information, just dialogue. It is for our sake, not His, that we should try to tell Him exactly how we feel.
The Lord Jesus never tired of inviting, encouraging, prompting, exhorting, even commanding people – especially His disciples – to pray. He said that they “should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). But when you are under the broom tree, that is very hard to do; it’s hard to even believe He hears us. It’s hard to come to Him “just as I am,” isn’t it? Something inside of us tells us that we have to be in the right frame of mind before we talk to God. How then can we tell God that we have “had it”?
If we are talking about intercession, then, yes, we must believe that God is a rewarder of “those who sincerely seek Him.” But here we are not talking about intercession. When you’re under the broom tree, your prayers are not intercessory prayers but rather prayers of desperation. We are thinking about the dark night of the soul, when we can’t hang onto our faith any longer. Yet Hallesby encourages us to pray on, even when we are driving through a blizzard of unbelief! He says,
Many have had most remarkable answers to prayer when they had no clear or definite assurance that they would be hear, either before they prayed, while praying, or after they prayed. It has seemed to them that God has given the most remarkable answers to prayer at times when they had no faith whatsoever!
So keep talking to the Lord even if you are mad at Him or doubting His very existence.
Where was God in Elijah’s situation? God was right there in the person of the angel of the Lord.
Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and saw some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you.” (1 Kings 19:5-7)
God Himself is always present and waiting to help His exhausted servants. Jesus promised that a sparrow would never all without the Father knowing it. Note, he never promised that a sparrow would not fall, but He did promise the sparrow would not fall without the Father’s knowledge of it. God is never surprised by our visits to the broom tree. In fact, He waits to strengthen us by the appropriate means.
Who is the angel who baked the loaves and then provided the jar of water? None other than God Himself. The Angel of the Lord is called different things in different parts of Scripture: the Angel of His Presence, the Angel of the Covenant, or the Captain of the Lord of Hosts. This is one of those places where God manifests Himself as an angel and where the person He appears to is immediately aware of who He is. Elijah addresses Him with familiarity. He knows that the angel is God indeed.
Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to talk to the Angel of the Lord of Hosts? Imagine being face-to-face with God. Yet every time you and I pray, He, the Angel of His Presence, is as much with us as He was with Elijah! He is the precious Angel of the Lord to us in the person of the Holy Spirit. In fact, He dwells within us. We take Him with us under every broom tree we visit!
The broom tree experiences in our lives introduce us to a new way of praying. It’s not verbal praying but rather a total abandonment of ourselves in despair at God’s feet. It is a wordless praying, a silent scream for help. Sometimes we cannot even shout at God. We are spent.
When you run out of prayers, God can still hear you! Even though no words are formed or spoken, God looks at you and reads the language of your longing. At that moment, you see, you are the prayer! So be content to just be a desperate prayer under your particular broom tree, and wait and see what happens!
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