The word obstinate has a bad rap. The dictionary definition is:

RefusingĀ toĀ giveĀ upĀ orĀ letĀ go;Ā perseveringĀ 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. Itā€™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 fruitā€ (James 5:17-18).

During a time of deep apostasy in Israel, Elijah obstinately refused to compromise his worship of Godā€”a good thing and a positive way to beĀ 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 Elijahā€™s first prayer for no rain as ā€œearnest.ā€ Then he simply says about the second prayer, ā€œhe prayed again, and the heaven gave rain.ā€ The actual account of Elijahā€™s second prayer may not have been earnest, but it was definitely obstinate. The Old Testament gives a little more detail. Letā€™s take a look:

ā€œAnd 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, ā€˜Go up now, look toward the sea.ā€™ So he went up and looked, and said, ā€˜There is nothing.ā€™ And seven times he said, ā€˜Go again.ā€™ Then it came to pass the seventh time that he said, ā€˜There is a cloud, as small as a manā€™s hand, rising out of the sea!ā€™ā€(1 Kings 18:42-44).

If you want to know what obstinate prayer looks likeā€”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 fireā€”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 spotā€”that he wasn’t moving till his prayer was answered. His obstinate prayer for rain is a vital part of the ā€˜Elijah messageā€™ that God wants to give to His church today.Ā Amen.

Pastor at Fall Creek Adventist Church

James pastors the Fall Creek Adventist Church in Fall Creek, Oregon. With a special interest in the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, James has spent more than 30 years preaching the gospel around the world in revival seminars and evangelistic meetings. He and his wife Risƫ have two adult children, Jeiel and Kierra.