The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” (1 Kings 18:44a NIV).
One of the most valuable lessons on prayer is found here. It is perseverance. What does it mean? It means praying on and on, in spite of no sign of your prayer being answered. It means holding on to the word God had given you and continuing to expect to see the answer manifest itself; i.e. Make itself visible in front of you. Remember, such kind of praying is still needed even when God has already promised the answer. Here, Elijah was asked by God to present himself before Ahab, and God had promised to sent rain on the land. This promise was the surety that enabled Elijah to pray on.
On top of Mount Carmel, Elijah’s posture of being bent down to the ground and putting his face between his knees was similar to the posture that women of those times adopted while giving birth to their children. So it seems that Elijah was undergoing intense labor pains. He was giving birth to the rain through prayer. He knew within himself that rain was bound to come for he had obeyed whatever God had told him to do. He knew for sure that God would keep His word. But that needed a continuous praying that would not be discouraged even when six times he heard it said, “There is nothing there!” It would have discouraged any man. Here Elijah was being watched by the huge gathering too. Yet he persevered in prayer.
And the seventh time it was reported to him that a cloud as small as a man’s hand was rising from the sea. He immediately confirmed his earlier message to the king that rain was coming. Such is the quality of persevering prayer that the sight of a cloud as small as a man’s hand is enough to proclaim to others to get prepared to receive the much-awaited and expected answer! Listen! Are you hearing the sound of a heavy rain?