The word obstinate has a bad rap. The dictionary definition is:
Refusing to give up or let go; persevering obstinately
Refusing to give up or let go. Persevering. Insistently repetitive or continuous.
Some of us are obstinate all the time. All of us are obstinate some of the time. It’s possible to be obstinate in a good way. The Bible says:
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:17-18).
During a time of deep apostasy in Israel, Elijah obstinately refused to compromise his worship of God—a good thing and a positive way to be obstinate. He obstinately stood for right and endured with his people the three and a half years of famine.
God not only spoke through Elijah, God led him, fed him, and finally vindicated him before the entire nation at the showdown on Mount Carmel.
It was after the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed his sacrifice that Elijah manifested obstinate prayer.
Even though there was no sign of rain, Elijah refused to give up or let go.
James describes Elijah’s first prayer for no rain as “earnest.” Then he simply says about the second prayer, “he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain.” The actual account of Elijah’s second prayer may not have been earnest, but it was definitely obstinate. The Old Testament gives a little more detail. Let’s take a look:
“And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look toward the sea.’ So he went up and looked, and said, ‘There is nothing.’ And seven times he said, ‘Go again.’ Then it came to pass the seventh time that he said, ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!’”(1 Kings 18:42-44).
If you want to know what obstinate prayer looks like—that is it! Even though there was no sign of rain, Elijah refused to give up or let go. One time, two times, three times, four times, five times, six times and nothing! Yes, Elijah was perseveringly obstinate; insistently repetitive and continuous. He kept praying.
Elijah prayed once for fire—boom, there was fire. But he had to pray seven times for rain. You get the feeling from the text that Elijah was settled into his prayer spot—that he wasn’t moving till his prayer was answered. His obstinate prayer for rain is a vital part of the ‘Elijah message’ that God wants to give to His church today. Amen.
James has spent more than 30 years preaching the gospel around the world in revival seminars and evangelistic meetings. He and his wife Risë have two adult children, Jeiel and Kierra.