The ability Elisha had to perform miracles was not dependent on prayer, nor was he limited in the kinds of miracles he could do. On two separate occasions, Elisha asked the person he intended to bless what she wanted him to do for her, as if he could do anything (2 Kings 4:2,13). Elisha gave one the resources to pay off all her debts (2 Kings 4:7), and the other who was childless, a son (2 Kings 4:17).
Unlike most prophets that proceeded him, Elisha was not a spokesperson for the LORD, but an intercessor on behalf of the people. Like Elijah, I believe Elisha had the ability to see what was going on in the spiritual realm, as well as, the ability to discern motives and intensions. When the woman to whom Elisha had given a son came to him with an urgent request, her problem was hidden from him, indicating Elisha’s ability was blocked (2 Kings 4:27).
The source of Elisha’s power was attributed to the spirit he received after Elijah was taken up to heaven (2 Kings 1:11). The spirit was “the mighty penetrating power of the invisible God” which enabled Elisha “to feel, think, speak, and act in accordance with the Divine will” (7307). In essence, Elisha experienced a life similar to that of Jesus Christ. Although Elisha was not God, he had the ability to act like he was.
When Elisha went into the woman’s house and saw that her child was dead, “He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD” (2 Kings 4:33). The Hebrew word translated prayed in this verse is palal, which means to judge (6419). Elisha was acting as a mediator between the woman who had lost her son and God. In this sense, it was not really Elisha who was praying, but the spirit that was upon him that was praying on the woman’s behalf.
The mother of the child that died is described as a “great woman” (2 Kings 4:8).The meaning of the word translated great is twofold. First, the woman was older. She may have been past the age of having children, but most likely she was capable of having a child. Second, the woman was probably wealthy. She and her husband provided a room in their home for Elisha and his servant Gahazi. Elisha’s intention in giving the woman a child and then bringing him back to life after he died was not to reward the woman for her generosity, but to show the woman that God was concerned about her well being and would go to great lengths to make her happy.
Elisha’s behavior demonstrated God’s love for his people. The miracles he performed were not so much to make people aware of God’s power, but to let people know that God’s power was available to everyone. It was God’s desire to bless his people and Elisha made it possible for everyone to see that God could and would take care of them if they gave him the chance to.