When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” (2Ki 2:9-10)
We know that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and that he is an example for us in the area of prayer (Jas 5:17) I believe that in this passage Elisha (even though he is addressing Elijah rather than God) also sets an example in how we are to pray, and importantly, how we can pray prayers that get answered!
First, Elisha asks for a "hard thing." I like that! He doesn't make a "safe" request, but goes out on a limb to make a bold request. That's how our prayers should be: those that reach in faith beyond the boundaries of what we have currently experienced or received. If we only ask for things we already believe for, how are we exercising faith. It may seem odd to express it this way, but if we limit our prayers to our current measure of faith, we are not really operating in faith at all. Faith cannot be static; if it not expanding it is contracting. As Jesus put it: Those who have will be given more, but those who do not have, even the little they do have will be taken away. Whilst we should never pray for things that we have no faith that God will answer - those are totally pointless and hollow prayers - we should always stretch our current measure of faith to reach for more.
Next Elisha asks for the "double portion." There is plenty that could be said about this. But what strikes me in particular is that this was the portion of the first-born son. Elisha is saying, "Let me be like your first-born son." Again, I like this! This is how we should pray to our Heavenly Father, and this should be the prime motive behind our prayers: "Let me be like Jesus!" That's what we should be reaching for in faith. More of the life, character, gift and power of Jesus in our lives. That the manifestation of his wonderful nature may be displayed in us and through us.
Finally, I like the response that Elijah gives to his son in the faith: "If you see me it's yours!" I think this is the voice of God to us as a praying people too: "If you see me, it's yours." It is as we see him, and our vision of who he is and what he is like is expanded, that our faith to receive all that he is promised is increased. Abraham and Sarah believed because they considered him who had made the promises... not just the promises in isolation (Heb 11:11).
It's not just seeing what he is capable of doing either, but what he is doing. Jesus was the most anointed, most faith-filled person to ever walk the earth. Yet the secret of his success in prayer was this: He only did the things he saw his Father was doing. He saw. He prayed. He received. He saw what the Father was doing and prayed to see that same reality manifest on earth as it was in heaven. And that's how he taught his disciples to pray. Seeing the kingdom activity of the Father in heaven and praying it into reality on the earth. Praying in this way is another way we become more like him.
Let's be those who do not just pray according to what we see on the earth, but those who in faith pray into being that which we have seen in heaven.