EARLEY: How to Behave in a Cave: Elijah
Published 11:30 am Tuesday, June 22, 2021
By Al Earley
What is the quietest place you have ever been? What is the darkest place you have ever been? Whenever I take my scouts on a caving trip I usually take a moment to let them get some distance away from me. Then I turn out my headlamp. It is so dark I can’t see my hand in front of my face. It is so quiet each sound has its own magnificence. A single drop of water, when it is the only sound you hear, is distinctive and beautiful as it echoes through the cave. And then there is the sheer silence until another sound can be heard. Perfect silence is a rare experience in our world of noise. It is a really good place to hear the voice of God.
The great prophet Elijah found this out following the great bull burning victory over the prophets of Baal. In this story Elijah challenges Queen Jezebel’s prophets to a bull burning contest to see who can get their bull to burn without matches (I Kings 18). The prophets of Baal chant, dance, and cut themselves to try to get their fertility god to ignite their bull. Nothing happens. Elijah taunts them in classic trash talking style that would make any NBA superstar proud.
Then Elijah calls for lots and lots of water to be poured over his bull, prays to God, and God sends a great lightning bolt that dries up all the water and fries the bull to a crisp. Elijah thinks he has won and has all the prophets of Baal killed. Queen Jezebel changes the rules and sends her army to kill Elijah.
Elijah runs for his life and escapes to a cave in the mountains to pray. He pleads for God to protect him and reveal Himself to Elijah (I Kings 19:10 & 14).
He wants to hear the voice of God, but God did not come to speak to him in the powerful windstorm, earthquake, or fire from heaven. God was not in these great natural signs of power. Instead, God speaks to Elijah in a “gentle whisper” or “a still small voice” or “the sheer silence”, as different translations interpret the Hebrew words.
This is a beautiful representation of how God usually speaks to us quietly, and subtly. He speaks in a gentle whisper to our soul. I was sharing some experiences of prayer with a friend who knew little about prayer. He asked in astonishment, “You can hear God speak to you?” I assured him I could. That when I am in a quiet place, with all the frantic thoughts of the day set aside in my mind, and my soul is calm and at peace, then I hear God share all kinds of wonderful insights into my life, ministry, and His will for that day. I have learned to give up control of my life and God knows I will be obedient when I hear His voice, and so He trusts me to receive His will.
God desires to have a deep and meaningful relationship with you more than anything else in your life. His favorite time with you is when you are quiet and praying. No distractions. Just you and God alone for some time. You don’t have to go to a cave to find such a quiet place. Turn off all the electronics and most of the other noises vanish like white noise and it will be quiet enough to hear God’s voice. Share with God all your prayers first. Have a pad ready to write down the answers to distracting questions like turning off the coffee pot later. And then ask God an important question and listen. God may answer the very first time. Most people find it takes about two weeks to learn to be calm and quiet enough to hear God’s gentle whisper. The more you do it the easier it is as you build your relationship with God.
How important is it to you to have a deep, intimate relationship with God almighty, your creator? Does your prayer life give you enough time with God that you can hear His voice? Does your prayer life include a time of listening for God’s voice? Try it! The intimacy with God will bring a whole new depth and meaning to your life.
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.org.