The Way of Awakening Movements

1 Kings 18:41–43 (NIV)

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”



It seems odd to skip right over the main event. Since it is where we began, let’s just remember what happened. In a classic confrontation on Mt. Carmel, the God of Israel routed the prophets of Baal. If you want to get the blow by blow recap it is here: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3

This next episode of the story is fascinating. 

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”

The people saw the lightning. But there were no clouds. And there was certainly no rain. Yet Elijah speaks prophecy to the king of the sound of a heavy rain. Elijah declared the thing that was not (and had not been for three and a half years) as though it were. How do we know this? Look at what happened next:

So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

Something tells me this is in part the posture of travailing prayer and in part what it looks like when a prophet prepares to kiss his rear end good-bye. On both counts, this is the humble posture of desperation. The crowds have dispersed. The king is satisfied for the moment. The God of Israel prevailed. There is only one problem. It is not raining. 

We are given no record of any spoken prayer from the prophet. His posture is his prayer. He is tucked into the position we used to assume back at Central Elementary School called “The Tornado Drill.” His very body is the prayer. Many of you know this place. You have done everything, obeyed everything, prayed everything, and the skies still seem to be shut. 

This is what you do when the skies seem shut. It’s not a formula. It is not some posture God is waiting for you to find, withholding until you do. Remember our word, “Relinquishment?” This is what it looks like: 

  1. Prophesy the sound of the rain, even when you hear nothing. No, this is not name it claim it. This is bold faith. 
  2. Enter the posture of the tornado drill—tuck into a ball, low to the ground, head between your knees, hands and fingers interlaced over your head. 
  3. Be quiet. Wait on the Lord. Keep watch. 

Elijah is as certain of the rain starting on this day as he was of the rain stopping on the first day over three years ago. As far as Elijah is concerned, it is already raining. 

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

No problem. Go look again. It is not a question of if for Elijah, only when. Go look again. 

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

And on the seventh time we get this now famous report:

The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” (1 Kings 18:44)

The movement of the hand of God, which never stopped, which moved the drought into place, and which moved Elijah to Ahab and then to the ravine and then to the widow at Zarephath and then to Obadiah and then to Ahab again and then to Mt. Carmel . . . the movement of the hand of God never stopped moving. It was unseeable much of the time, unseen at other times, but always moving. And Elijah was continually responding. Revelation and response. Revelation and response. Revelation begets response and response beckons more revelation. This is the pattern of awakening movement. This little cloud, rising from the sea, the size of a man’s fist, is the tiny confirmation of the big revelation. Look how Elijah responds.  

So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”

Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:44–45)

And then Elijah ran like the wind, as a man possessed with the power of God. 

The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:46)

 This is the way—from glory to glory. 


Abba Father, thank you for your revelation; for the quiet signs and the hidden signs. Thank you for letting us hear the sound of a heavy rain before a cloud even appears in the sky. Thank you for the bold proclamations of lightening and the tiny confirmations of a cloud the size of a man’s fist.  We want to hear what you are saying and see what you are doing that we might align our lives wholeheartedly. We want to harken to your revelation with the response of faith and prayer. Holy Spirit train us in this way of attention and attunement. Praying in Jesus’ name, amen. 


What do you make of this entire unfolding story? Does it encourage you? Are you aligning your life with the pattern of awakening—God reveals and we respond. Are you learning to trust what you can’t see? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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Comments and Discussion

5 Responses

  1. This story about how this massive thunderstorm first emerged like a fist sized hand from the sea reminds me of the parable of the mustard seed. God’s mighty moves usually have small beginnings. Only those with eyes to see will notice them. I concur that our prayer should be to open the eyes of our hearts, and then to have the courage to act upon that vision. I believe that God is doing this very thing now. Hopefully as God grace’s us with more clarity, our boldness to declare this shared vision will increase.

  2. The way of spiritual awakening is much simpler that we imagine. When Christ-followers humbly gather to expect and experience direct revelation and individual response — to receive the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit and to outwardly proclaim and do what comes to them (as described in 1 Corinthians 14:26) — members of the body of Christ will begin to learn to relinquish control from human authority to the actual Headship of the living Jesus and the glory of God will start to spontaneously manifest in and through ordinary, Spirit-prompted people. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times, yet it’s very rare because Christians (just like ancient Israel) want a king — one man to be in control — instead of meeting under the direct and personal control of the risen Jesus.

    The truth is that human organization gradually quenches the Spirit. That’s why Jesus told His disciples not to “lord it over people” with titles and a religious hierarchy. Only the living Jesus can lead us to spiritual awakening. Until we learn to listen to and obey Him, revival will remain a distant dream or a short-lived phenomenon instead of a daily way of living in the power and presence of God’s Spirit.

    My heart continually cries out for the present-day members of the body of Christ to learn to gather for revelation and response. If yours does too, search for: Beyond Church Ekklesia.

  3. I have travailed in prayer many times. At least once every time I attend New Room and in my own quiet space. Imagine that ☺️ It can be excruciatingly beautiful and painful all at the same time because of the unconditional surrender required.
    But I do have a side question… Where did Elijah’s servant come from? Was God providing for two all along or could it be the widow or her son?

  4. Love this history and page of scripture! Amazingly, it rained on my training ride and the group didn’t show. I was alone with the Lord, and I ride like the wind in the warm rain, and it was good.

  5. At the beginning of unexpected pain, God’s hand seems like a closed fist. But, because of His unfathomable promises, I know both hands are open, beckoning me into His arms. Sometimes it takes me a while to get there. The valley was longer and deeper than I thought. But, I never lost sight of Him. Then, part way through, I realized He had also been walking with me.
    He is why I can keep moving.

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