Elijah was a prophet and a miracle worker who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Ahab (9th century BC), according to the Books of Kings in the Hebrew Bible. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah defended the worship of Yahweh over that of the Canaanite deity Baal. Yahweh also performed many miracles through Elijah, including resurrection (raising the dead), bringing fire down from the sky, and entering Heaven alive "by a whirlwind". He is also portrayed as leading a school of prophets known as "the sons of the prophets". After his death, Elisha his disciple and most devoted assistant took over his role as leader of this school. The Book of Malachi prophesies Elijah's return "before the coming of the great and terrible day of Yahweh", making him a harbinger of the Messiah and of the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible.
As the 'spiritual father' of the Order, Carmelites invoke the prophet St. Elijah in prayer, asking - like his disciple Elisha - for a double portion of his spirit. The following prayer is inspired by the Elijah narratives in the Bible's Books of the Kings.
O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
You alone are God.
Your servant Elijah lived in your presence,
and acted on your Word.
Help us to drink from the well of his wisdom.
Shelter us in Cherith, and lead us to Carmel,
luring our hearts away from all false gods.
Open our eyes to the needs of those suffering.
Open our mouths to speak comfort and justice.
Open our hearts to your voice in the silence.
Send angels to strengthen us.
Send the rain of your grace to quench our thirst.
Let us break bread with the starving
and bring life to places of death and despair.
Send us as prophets to herald your Gospel.
Allow us to rise to you in paradise.
Those who met your son Jesus saw in him
the spirit of Elijah.
May Elijah lead us to your son.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.