Both Elijah and Elisha in the course of their ministries had their faith put to the test while praying to revive the dead. Elijah revived the widow’s son, while Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son from the dead (1 kings 17:17-24; 2 kings 4:8-37). This was not just a mere coincidence, but testing of their perseverance. The pattern of prayer by both prophets teaches us the benefits of perseverance in prayer. Paul said in Romans 5:3, “tribulations produce perseverance; and perseverance character.” Problems and challenges reveal the stuff we are made of; trials reveal our true character. Confronting the dead revealed the steely qualities of these prophets.
The Shunammite woman is always remembered for her generosity, but we seem to forget that she was a woman whose greatest blessing, her only son, Satan tried to steal. The Shunammite woman did not set out to ask for a son, she was contented living without one until Elisha prodded her to expect one, “Then he said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!” (2 Kings 4:16 -NKJV). But, not long after the birth of the boy, he died on the knees of the mother. What a heart-shattering tragedy!
Once the Shunammite woman perceive that her son has died, she carried him and laid him on Elisha’s bed in his room at her house and hasten towards Mount Carmel where the prophet was. When she arrived, she reminded the prophet that she had been content without a son but since God had blessed her with him, she wasn’t going to give up on his soul so easily.
“But when she came to the man of God at the mountain, she fell to the ground before him and caught hold of his feet. Gehazi began to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone. She is deeply troubled, but the LORD has not told me what it is.”(2 Kgs 4:.27 NLT).
Her desperation made the prophet know how serious the situation was. Elisha quickly sent Gehazi with his rod to pray for the dead boy. But when the boy failed to rise, he decided to go himself. When he arrived, he shut the door behind him, and then, engaged in what may have been the fiercest prayer warfare of his life, “He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord. Then he lay down on the child’s body, placing his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, and his hands on the child’s hands. And as he stretched out on him, the child’s body began to grow warm again! Elisha got up, walked back and forth across the room once, and then stretched himself out again on the child. This time the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes!“ (2 Kgs.4.33-35 NLT).
Elisha’s persevering prayer followed a similar pattern to that of Elijah. They both wrestled with the spirit of death. They had bodily contact with their victim before they came back to life. Confronting the spirit of death is never an easy task.
In life, there comes a time when we come face to face with dead situations that need our prayer to resurrect. Jesus faced a dead Lazarus and his command brought him back to life. At the gate of Nain, Jesus revived the son of a widow! What is the hopeless situation you are facing? Persevere to bring it back to life.