Cry for Fire!
By Don MacLafferty
“Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” 1 KINGS 18:37
The people pressed close around Elijah, eyeing the once broken-down, stone altar now repaired and ready. They watched as he dug a trench around the altar and prepared the wood and the sacrifice. They stared with disbelief as Elijah ordered that four pitchers of water be poured out upon the sacrifice, the wood, and the altar. He ordered four more pitchers of water to be poured out again...and once again!
The once-dry wood was now drenched with precious water. The water streamed down the sides of the altar and completely filled the trench. It was a very unlikely spot to kindle a single spark, much less a fire.
With this, Elijah set the stage for what he knew God would do. He went out of his way to make sure the people would know that it was impossible for him to start the fire. He deliberately set the tone by his preparations to focus the people on what God, and God alone, could do.
The priests of Baal failed. Everyone knew it. The question on every other mind but Elijah’s was, Could the Lord God do any better?
“At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again’” (1 Kings 18:36, 37).
Standing in the Presence of God
Elijah risked all to cry out to the Lord God to answer his prayer for fire. He knew what his fate would be at the hands of the faithless crowd if God were silent at the conclusion of his prayer. He prayed for God to do what he knew was God’s will to do!
Elijah stood in the presence of God. In solitude, he prayed and waited on God, taking unrushed time to know the will of the One who called him. In public, he prayed, operated, and lived his life in the confidence of who the Living God was, is, and will always be!
The second that Elijah finished his prayer, God answered! “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38).
God sent fire. Fire fell. Everything on the altar, the stone altar itself, and the water was utterly and completely consumed. Nothing was left behind!
This answer from the Lord God of heaven brought about a clear response from the crowd.
They thought nothing of Elijah in that moment. They thought only of One. “When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God’” (1 Kings 18:39).
It's Time for Fire to Fall
It is time for the fire of God to fall again! Not the fire that burns up wood, stone, and water, but the fire from heaven that consumes our pride, lust, self-righteousness, and disbelief. We need the fire from heaven that will burn up our bitterness towards those who have wronged us and our pride that keeps us from making things right with God and with man.
Years after Elijah called for fire, another man came who reminded the crowd by the Jordan River of the prophet on Carmel. The man dressed in “a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist” (Matthew 3:4). He cried out, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2).
His name was John the Baptist. He prophesied, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11,12).
Immediately after John proclaimed the coming of the One, Jesus walked onto the scene.
“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John to be baptized by him” (Matthew 3:13). With God, timing is everything.
Jesus, the Carpenter, was baptized by John. “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16,17).
John said this One coming after him would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Jesus was baptized Himself with the Holy Spirit. The One who was to baptize others with the Holy Spirit would first be baptized by water and the Spirit Himself. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness…And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district” (Luke 4:1, 14).
This same Jesus, after dying on the cross and being resurrected from the grave, prophesied before He returned to heaven, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). Ten days later on the day of Pentecost, all the believers were gathered together in one place. “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire...and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:2-4).
Believers who were shy, afraid, sidelined, and marginalized, due to all manner of past sins and dark histories, were filled with the Holy Spirit. They had prayed, humbled themselves, and repented, and now they were filled to overflowing with the Gift Jesus had promised. They boldly spoke in the languages of the many pilgrims who had gathered on the streets for the Passover. The crowd testified, “We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God” (Acts 4:11).
Peter, the one who had publicly declared he knew nothing of Jesus, the One he had followed for three years, took his stand with the disciples. Peter, the disciple who had been silent when the crowds cried, “Crucify Him!” now publicly lifted up his voice and boldly declared, “‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams’” (Acts 2:17).
This Peter, who was once full of himself and his own agenda, was now filled with the Holy Spirit. He risked his life to say whatever the Holy Spirit gave him to say. When the crowd was moved in their hearts and cried out, “’Brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself’” (Acts 2:37-39).
It is time for the fire to fall again!
A woman shyly approached April and me at the end of a revival in a small church across the prairies of Alberta, Canada. “Would you come and call for a revival in my church?” she asked. “We desperately need a revival!”
“Have the pastor of your church call me, and if God calls us to come to your church, we will come.” I assured her. Months went by. Nothing. We prayed for her church.
One day, the pastor called and invited me to come and talk to his leaders. I drove through the snow, praying as I traveled. I walked into the church and shivered. I walked down a dark hallway and finally found a side room with a small circle of discouraged leaders, waiting to talk.
After a short prayer, I was invited to share. I told what we had seen God do in other churches and schools. I talked of God’s love and His grace. I joyfully shared about the power of God to call all to repentance, to forgiveness, and to live transformed lives. The group listened in absolute silence. Too much silence.
“Please tell me about your church,” I invited.
“Well...” began one, “a revival week would never work here!” Other voices chimed in: “We are way too busy here to come out more than a night or two!” “We are completely fragmented by culture and the countries from which we came. We do not come together for anything.” Finally, another leader summed it up: “Revival won’t happen here.”
I sucked in my breath, said a prayer in my mind, and responded, “God can do anything. Nothing is impossible with God.” The leaders looked at the floor, thanked me for coming, and walked me to the door.
But God moved on the hearts of one or two leaders there. They began to pray. They prayed and prayed. God listened. I received an invitation to come and call for revival, and God called April and me to go!
We requested that they would prayerfully gather as many as possible prior to the revival to pray and be trained to be small group leaders. They agreed. We came on the appointed night and walked into the spacious church, hoping for thirty or forty prayer partners.
One person was working feverishly to set up for the meeting. Finally, eight or nine people showed up. Many of them were late. They said it really wasn’t the best night to come. We prayed with them, equipped them, and left the church very concerned.
Claiming Bible Promises
God impressed us to come and pray and train the people again. The church promised to find more people. On the appointed night, we arrived with much hope and expectation. Announcements had been made from the front of church during the worship service. Less showed up than the first time! But we got on our knees and prayed and claimed God’s promises.
One of the leaders warned, “For many years, we have never had success in gathering this church together for more than a day or two at a time. After the weekend, you will be lucky if you have three or four people attend this revival.”
One little boy I will call Dex was sitting next to his mother in our circle of prayer. He waved his hand to get my attention. “Can I be a small group leader?” he blurted out. He was young, very young, yet he had more passion for revival than all the adults put together.
“Yes, you can!” I assured him. “Team up with your mom. You can work together!” His grin was bigger than the moon. His mother’s eyes were bright and shiny with tears. God whispered to my heart, “A little child will lead them.”
The night of revival came! Dex and his mom sat in the front with a circle of chairs, while I called for revival. They led their little group in the Word and in prayer. The Holy Spirit was present.
“Less will come tomorrow night!” promised one attendee, as he sighed and walked out that night.
Every day, a few of us prayed for every member in that church, whether they came to church anymore or not. We asked God to touch the hearts of each person with the love and power of the Holy Spirit. We asked God to do what only He could do.
More came the next night. People that usually stayed apart came together cautiously and sat beside each other in small groups. Conversations were surface-only and difficult between people who looked different from each other and who were used to sitting only with their own people. But they came...and God moved.
“Tomorrow begins the work week. Beginning tomorrow, there will only be three or four,” a few stalwart leaders dejectedly predicted. But believers continued to pray for the Holy Spirit to call His people through the work week.
Every night, the people came, not two or three, but many. Young and old came. People came from work in their work clothes. People came who had not come to church in a long time.
As the Holy Spirit moved on hearts, people started walking across the room. They reached out to people they had never talked with and sat down to eat a meal together before the meetings. People who were bitter towards each other confessed and asked for forgiveness. People with hard hearts had their hearts broken open to receive the love of God, some for the first time.
The fire from heaven fell. It was not fire burning up stones, but fire from God lighting up the darkness, to bring warmth in the cold, and to gather those who were scattered to be a family of God once again!
Call for fire!
Don MacLafferty is a disciple of Jesus, a husband to April for more than 30 years, a dad to Jason, Julie and Jessica and Founder/President of In Discipleship. In 2020 God sent Don and April back to the Chattanooga, Tennessee area as volunteer missionaries. Here they are seeking to raise up champions to call all ages to return to Jesus Christ NOW before He returns and to disciple the new generations to trust, follow and share Jesus with His urgency for these last days. Today In Discipleship includes intergenerational revivals, Kids In Discipleship, Schools in Discipleship and The Call of Elijah. This ministry has the joy of resourcing families of all shapes and sizes regardless of religion, ethnicity, or citizenship.
In Discipleship is a faith ministry depending on God for its provision and for the growing number of volunteers that carry it around the world. All resources produced are available without charge beyond shipping costs. All training is offered without charge.
This testimony was originally shared at Time to Get Ready Ministries.