Elijah was a man of God who zealously fought for the worship of the one true God. Recall how on top of Mount Carmel the prophet Elijah engaged in a great contest of faithfulness to the one true God against the prophets of a false god. (1 Kings 18:16-40) "How long will you straddle the issue," he cried. "If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, follow him." (1Kings 18:21)
The first Carmelites settled on Mount Carmel near the spring known as the "fountain of Elijah". The Carmelites have looked at this fiery prophet as a model of their life. Like the prophet Elijah they were to live a life of prayer, detachment, with pure hearts and with a mind and heart open to the experience of God.
Today Carmelites still look to the prophet Elijah's challenge of the status quo and thirst for justice. Asking for a double portion of his spirit, zeal and sense of mission as did Elisha (2 Kings 2:9), Carmleites are part of a long line of prayerful people that can no longer "straddle the issue". In the midst of this struggle against false gods, with the realization of their powerlessness and nourished in the presence of God in their lives, Carmelites make these constant themes of their lives and therefore identify with Elijah.
Elijah struggled and found himself almost despairing without the strength to continue on. It is at this time that the Lord revealed himself to Elijah. Having had enough he lays down and falls asleep under a broom tree. He is told by an angel to get up and after eating and drinking travels forty day to the mountain of God. Here God reveals himself not in an earthquake, not in a strong heavy wind, not in fire...but in "a tiny whispering sound". (1Kings 19:1-12)
Carmelites spend their time in silence and solitude seeking union with God ever open to the revelation of His presence. Like the prophet Elijah they stand before God and say, "I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts." (1 Kings 19:14)