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1 Kings 18

41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 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.

43 “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.”

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

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

Why did Elijah put his face between his knees?

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1 Kings 18:42 New International Version

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.

Elijah was praying earnestly. The posture showed his intensity in praying. Something like this:

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Muslims are doing something like this even today.

Matthew Poole

he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees; expressive of his humility, and of his earnestness, and vehement desire, and continued importunity, that rain might fall; for this was a posture of prayer he put himself into, and continued in; and it is certain that it was through his prayer that rain came

James 5 mentions Elijah's prayers:

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

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The description of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:42 is obviously one of earnest intercessory prayer. The posture described, "he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees" is unique in all the Bible.

Matthew Poole comments as follows:

Put his face between his knees; he either sat, or rather kneeled upon his knees, and then cast down his face to the ground between his knees; either in token of profound reverence and humility, or out of fervency of spirit, which oft disposeth men to uncouth gestures, which at other times, or in other men, would be ridiculous; but in them, and in that case, are usual and allowed: or, that turning away his eyes from all outward objects, he might be more intent and earnest upon his work, or pray to God without distraction.

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Elijah was God’s prophet transmitting God’s words to the people. This can be seen already in chapter 17. Here it is God who tells Elijah what to do and say.

”he did what the Lord had told him”. (NIV 17:5)

To be true to his word God set things in motion according to the words spoken on his behalf by Elijah, the servant of God.

“As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word”. (1 Kings 17:1)

This began the drought and it would also end it. Consequently, Elijah’s knee posture was not a posture of repetitive fervent prayer for rain, but one of patient expectant waiting for it.

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  • The best example of a man of fervent repetitive prayers in the OT is not Elijah but David. – Constantthin Apr 21 at 23:27

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