Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Elisha
The day was hot and the dust kicked up by the eleven yoke of oxen before him caused the young man to wipe at his eyes and breathe through his nose. He was a plowman, one who plowed the tough and rugged ground until it broke under the constant strain. The young man knew there was nothing glamorous about his career, but without fertile soil one could not plant seed, without seed there would be no harvest, and without harvest men would starve.
For Elisha it was just another day, no different than any other which came before it. Oftentimes those days which change our lives forever start out like any other. There are no trumpeters heralding a change, there are no announcers forewarning us of those moments which alter the course of our very existence. Every day has a beginning, middle, and an end, twenty-four hours which in essence aren’t really hours, but a way by which us temporal beings measure time. This was the day in which Elisha’s life was going to change and he didn’t even know it.
We can’t plan for those days, we can’t prepare for those days, they come upon us suddenly and without warning, and all we have to do is be willing to step out of our comfort zone, and follow after the guidance of the Spirit of God.
Elisha was plowing a field, just one nameless face among twelve other men doing the exact same thing, when out of nowhere a man walks up to him and throws his mantle on him. There was no explanation, the man didn’t forewarn him of what he was about to do, and by reading the words of Scripture, he didn’t even place the mantle upon him gently, but rather threw it.
Instinctively Elisha knew what this meant, because in those days only kings and prophets generally wore such mantles. A mantle during Elisha’s time was symbolic of the owner’s calling, position, and authority.
Elisha’s only choice in this entire unfolding was to either accept the calling, or reject it, pretending as though he did not understand what had just occurred.
Even before we get into our discussion on the prayer of Elisha, there are great nuggets of wisdom we can glean from his calling, and his reaction to his calling.
There are moments in life when God calls us or instructs us to do a specific thing, and rather than comply and obey, we pretend as though we did not fully understand His instructions, or did not clearly hear His voice.
Although God knows we heard and we heard clearly, we attempt to call Him a liar to His face by shrugging our shoulders and saying, ‘I didn’t know you wanted me to do that.’
Elisha’s calling was not what you would call the clearest and most vivid of callings. There was plenty of room for him to pretend as though Elijah’s actions did not compute, and that the mantle being thrown upon him had been an accident.
Elisha, however, had an honest and sincere heart. Having understood what Elijah’s actions meant Elisha left his oxen and ran after him.
There was no delay in Elisha’s reaction. There was no concern for what his fellow plowmen would say, or what his employer would say. A stranger had thrown a mantle upon him, and knowing what it meant Elisha ran after him.
1 Kings 19:20, “And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, ‘please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’ And he said to him, ‘Go back again, for what have I done to you?’”
By all accounts a man like Elijah would be labeled unloving, abrasive, short tempered, and downright mean-spirited by today’s exceedingly sensitive culture. Here was a young man who left his oxen in the field, chased down the man who had thrown his mantle upon him, asked to go say goodbye to his father and mother, and all the fellow said was, ‘go back again, for what have I done to you?’
Why, Elijah didn’t even acknowledge Elisha’s implied honor of him as many would nowadays, because to say ‘I will follow you’ implies one is worthy of being followed.
Nowadays, rather than do their duty and simply walk away, men hold up banners and signs and posters of themselves pleading and begging with people to follow them rather than the One who sent them. If one happens to come along as Elisha did to Elijah, they are quickly made to feel at ease to the point that truth isn’t even spoken in their lives for fear of losing a follower.
The system may have jaded me over the years, this I cannot deny, but it doesn’t make me any less right, and you know it because you’re seeing it. Men love to be praised, adored, followed, and obeyed. Men love to have authority over others, and they exert that authority liberally whenever it suits them.
I know I am in the minority, but I respect Elijah’s reaction to Elisha’s statement.
Elijah knew all he had done was what God had told him to do, and now the choice and decision making was up to Elisha alone. Elijah did not try to sugarcoat the calling, he didn’t try to talk Elisha into following him, he threw his mantle upon him, and having completed the task with which he had been tasked, walked away.
Since when did it become our duty to make Jesus appealing in lieu of preaching the Christ of the Bible? Since when did it become our duty to highlight notions such as prosperity, blessing, perfect health, and an existence absent of trials in lieu of the truth the Scriptures bear out in regards to what a true servant of God can expect to endure at the hands of the godless?
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.