If we’re honest, our view of God’s provision for us is pretty narrow. Following typical western assumptions, we think that if we work hard at a good job, or any job, we will see a good return and be provided for. That’s how God does it—through expected means.
He does provide that way, but we need to widen our perspective if we want to see the full picture of how God cares for his children.
Elijah was a man, and by that we understand that he suffered from weakness, fears, and a keen ability to feel like he alone was on God’s side [see 1 Kings 19:18]. In many ways, aside from his specific prophetic ministry, he was just like you—a man with personal struggles and a wonderfully powerful God.
One day, Elijah spoke out in faith to wicked and idolatrous king Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years except by my word” (1 Kings 17:1). We know this was an act of faith in God, because he then (and maybe had before as well) prayed fervently that what he told Ahab would actually happen [see James 5:17]. Elijah made a cataclysmic statement to the most powerful man in Israel, and he prayed fervently that God would make it happen.
Elijah spoke with an oath, “as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives” so that Ahab wouldn’t question what he said. Only after he spoke this way did the word of the Lord come to Elijah, which makes me think that the prediction about the rain was more a statement from faith than it was a report of “Thus says the Lord.”