Read my latest blog post on the power of prayer!
James says that Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are. What was it that gave him the boldness to stand before the wicked Ahab and declare that it would not rain for 3 ½ years? It was prayer in private that made him powerful in public (James 5:17). This same kind of boldness was given to the disciples (Acts 4:29-32). Through the power of prevailing prayer, God's servants are made bold and courageous to speak for the Lord.
Dr. W.A. Criswell in his book, Expository Sermons on the Book of James, tells the story of Francis Assisi and how in 1219 he journeyed with a few of his disciples to Egypt to present the cause of Christ, to preach the gospel to the Islamic world. He stood before Kamul, the sultan of Egypt, to present the claims of Christ. The bold, fearlessness of the man, and his deep Christian humility, made a profound impression upon the sultan. One day, Francis was appealing to the sultan. As he spoke, a decree came from the priest of Mohammed and was addressed to the sultan. It said, "Sire, you are learned in the law and you are sworn to uphold it by the hand of Mohammed, the prophet of God. And we are asking you therefore to take off the heads of these men." When the request was made, Francis of Assisi replied, "Sire, I have tried to get your priests to talk to me and they will not do it. Maybe they will act for you." He went on and said, "Cause a great fire to be built. Heat the furnace seven times hotter than usual, and I and my disciples will enter the fire. Cause the priests of Islam also to enter the fire, and we shall see whose faith is true and whose God answers prayer."
By the time Francis had finished his address and had presented his challenge, the priests of Islam, horrified at the thought, silently slunk away. And Francis was left standing by himself with his little handful of Christian followers. The sultan looked around, and seeing all the Islamic devotees gone, said, "It must be that my priests worship with words and not by faith."