I Kings 18:42-45
And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The power of prayer is here proved from the success of Elijah. This may be encouraging to us even in common cases, if we consider that Elijah was a man of like passions with us. He was a zealous good man and a very great man, but he had his infirmities…Elijah prayed that it might not rain; and God heard him in his pleading against an idolatrous persecuting country, so that it rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months. Again he prayed, and the heaven gave rain, James 5:17,18 Thus you see prayer is the key which opens and shuts heaven.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Oh, that we had more Elijahs, by whose faith the windows of Heaven should be shut or opened!
ARTHUR DENT (died 1607): Mark and consider what a man may do, yea, what one man may do; what an Abraham may do; what a Moses may do; what an Elijah may do; what a Daniel, what a Samuel, what a Job, what a Noah may do! Some one man, by reason of his high favour with the Eternal, is able sometimes to do more for a land by his prayers and tears, than many prudent men by their counsel, or valiant men by their swords.
C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, that we had more men like John Knox, whose prayers were more terrible to Queen Mary than ten thousand men!
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): But here is the interesting thing. God does not always use men like that…That seems to be the general rule, because Luther, again, was naturally great, so was Calvin, and so were John Knox, and others. But, you see, He does not always use men of that calibre…[In the revivals of 1858 and 59] you find God now using simple, ignorant, unknown, most ordinary men. You find that in the United States and you find it in Ulster. Take, for instance, what happened in Northern Ireland. How many of you have ever heard of the name of James McQuilkin? Well, he was the man who was used in Northern Ireland.
C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): You remember how that work began. The little school-house by the roadside, where two or three men met, week after week, to pour out their hearts in prayer to God, that He would pleased to break in upon the death and darkness which reigned around: and that He revive His work, and send out His light and His truth in converting power. You know how these prayers were answered―
C. H. SPURGEON: As with a clap of thunder has God descended from on high―sudden has been the work; men could scarce believe it true, it was done in so short a space of time…Roman Catholics have been converted. I thought that an extraordinary thing; but they have been converted very frequently in Ballymena and in Belfast—the priests [were] selling small bottles of ‘holy water’ for people to take that they may be preserved from this desperate contagion of the Holy Spirit. This ‘holy water’ is said to have such efficacy, that those who do not attend any of the meetings are not likely to be meddled with by the Holy Spirit—so the priests tell them.
C. H. MACKINTOSH: Was it not most manifestly a work of God’s Spirit? Did not He take up and use instruments the most unfit and unfurnished, according to human thinking, for the accomplishment of His gracious purpose?―Were they not for the most part “unlearned and ignorant men”?
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: James McQuilkin was a most ordinary man, but God laid hold of him and began to use him…Is this not something worthy of our careful contemplation? Should we not reflect upon it? God takes hold of the weak things of the world and confounds the things that are mighty.
FRANCES BEVAN (1827-1909): We often find, that when the Lord is doing a great work, He raises up one here and one there, who are all led by the same Spirit to do the same thing, though they may know nothing at first about each other.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Take, for instance, what happened in Northern Ireland. There it happened in the case of one man, to start with. It was exactly the same in the United States, it all started in just one man―that is the amazing thing about the story, that it was just one man, and then two others joining him, praying together for months. Just three men in a prayer meeting. And on and on it went for months, and slowly others began to come in―In New York it was one man who prayed alone for some time.
SAMUEL PRIME (1812-1885): In the upper lecture-room of the “Old North Dutch Church” in Fulton Street, New York, a solitary man―Jeremiah Calvin Lamphier.
D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): A great revival swept over this land. A great many men stood and shook their heads; they could not believe it was a healthy state of things. The Church was not in its normal state! The Church from Maine to Minnesota, and on to California, was astir. As you passed over this great republic―as you went on by train, and you passed through its cities and villages, you could see the churches lit up.
C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, the power of prayer! It has been ridiculed: it has been represented as an unscientific and an unpractical thing, but we who daily try it know that its power cannot be exaggerated, and do not feel even a shadow of doubt concerning it. There is such power in prayer that it “moves the arm that moves the world.”