Prayer

Prayer is powerful for every situation

By Dr. Jodie Chiricosta
woman praying

Prayer might seem like a small thing in the face of tragedy and violence, sickness and pain. Unless you understand it’s power.

Like you, I have been grieved and horrified by the brutal attack of the terrorist group, Hamas, on Israel. The aftermath of that attack has also been costly with regards to human life and human suffering for both Israelis and Palestinians. The war between Ukraine and Russia continues to drag on, and there are other conflicts around the globe that don’t make the headlines. They are all tragic.What are we to do?

Pray God’s Will!

The best place to go for answers, is the Bible.  Ephesians 6 gives us a great place to start.  After putting on the full armor of God, which includes Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Faith, applying our Salvation and the Word of God, verse 18 (NIV) tells us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”.  Pray!  We are to pray!  In God’s sight it is not a small thing!

When I looked up the Greek word translated “pray” in Eph. 6:18, I discovered that the meaning is,” to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith (“divine persuasion“).”  Jesus taught the disciples to pray that way, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10 KJV).   God wants us to pray His desires about situations, which releases Him to do His will.  Of course, God could act without us, but He has chosen to work through us in the world – through our prayers and through our actions.

When we hear of challenging situations on a global, national, local or even person level, the first thing we must do it pray.  But not just any prayers – we must pray God’s heart and will about the situation.  When our emotions are caught up in something, or we have little understanding about complex issues – we tend to pray our desires, our understanding of what is best.  But that is not what Eph. 6:18 says.

Pray in the Spirit

How can we pray God’s will about something when are minds and hearts are reeling? We pray in the Spirit as Paul instructed.  God gives some people the gift of praying in tongues.  And, if you have that gift, it is a good way to pray God’s will without having your thoughts and emotions get in the way.

If that is not a gift God has given you, you can still pray in the Spirit.  First, focus your attention on the character of God – His goodness, love, righteousness, might, mercy, justice, power, beauty and on and on. When you are fully focused on Him, pray that those characteristics be worked out in each circumstance and situation.  If a scripture comes to mind, pray that scripture over the situation as well.

For instance, Isaiah 61: 1-3 tells us Jesus came, “to proclaim good news to the poor,  to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

That scripture, among others, has come to my mind as I have prayed about the situation in Israel and Gaza.

Eph 6:18 tells us to pray on all occasions.  Some people refer to this as interceding, which means to mediate, negotiate, or intervene.  Let’s take a look at several women in the Bible who interceded on behalf of others, to see God’s will done.

A Wise Woman Intercedes

2 Samuel 20 tells the story of a man named Sheba, who led a rebellion against David, King of Israel.  Sheba and his followers holed up in a walled city called Abel Beth Maakah.  The army of Israel surrounded the city and built a siege ramp to batter down the gates.  Its residents were terrified. They had no idea why the army was there, considering themselves peace-loving and loyal. But now they faced destruction. Undoubtedly, they cried out to the Lord for rescue.

And then, a wise woman arose to intercede. From the city wall, she called to Joab, commander of the Army, and asked why the city was beseiged.  Joab told her, Sheba and his rebels have taken refuge there. Verse 22 says, “Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home.”

Brutal, yes. I am not suggesting a violent solution – although Ecclesiastes states that there is a time for war.  Instead, the story points out how this unnamed woman interceded according to the will of God to save the city.  God did not want Able Beth Maakah destroyed; nor the people killed for the rebellion of a few. But God also did not what rebellion fomenting among His people.

This woman had God’s heart to save the city, and to see justice done.  Her intercession between Joab and the towns people is an example of how God uses us to pray and intercede regarding situations all over the world. It can also be a point of prayer, for God to raise up wise women and men to advocate for His will in any given situation.

Abigail Intervenes

In I Samuel 25 we read about Abigail, another woman who stepped into the gap to plead God’s heart during a crisis.  Abigail’s wicked husband, Nabal, had greatly offended David and his men.  David let his emotions get the better of him. He led his men on a mission to to destroy Nabal and all his household – some of the very same people he had been protecting.

Abigail caught wind of what was happening and went out to meet David.  She sent gifts ahead, which in a prayer context represents worship. When she came face to face with David, she fell at his feet and repented for the offense -even though she was not guilty. She gently reminded David that his intentions were sinful, he was going to kill innocent people! Then she affirmed the destiny that God had for him.  Abigail’s intercession worked. She prevented David from committing murder. Innocent people were spared, leaving God to deal with wicked Nabal – which He did. A few days later, Nabal died.

You might be thinking – the wise woman and Abigail were not “praying”.  But I see it differently. Remember the fuller definition of prayer, “interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith.” They both interacted with the Lord to switch human desires for God’s wishes – and He gave them faith to step out. Read the book of Esther and you will see a similar story.

When God’s Answer Is Delayed

Sometimes God’s answer is delayed.  It can be confusing when wickedness continues to abound even though we pray for God to deal with it.   But 2 Peter 3:15 tells us a likely reason.  “Remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved.”  Our God is a loving, patient, kind God – who does not want anyone to perish. He wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  So, part of our prayer in each situation must be that people’s heart are open to God and they put their faith in Jesus.  I am so grateful for His love, patience and mercy with me!  He is extending the same to others, however undeserving we may think they are.

But in God’s time, He will move to rescue the oppressed and vanquish wickedness. So don’t lose heart or stop praying.  James 5:16 reminds us the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.

Up to now, I’ve been emphasizing the need to pray for large scale issues.  But God also wants us to pray for the one, and to present our personal requests to Him as well.  In the next post, we’ll explore that too.

Pray With Me

Father, You are holy, mighty, loving, faithful, good, powerful, victorious, righteous, just, merciful and so, so much more. Words cannot express Your Majesty. You are more glorious and loving that we can comprehend. And because of who You are, we know sin and suffering is not Your will. Sickness and oppression is not Your will.  You sent Jesus to seek and save the lost, to bind up the broken-hearted and set the captives free, to release prisoners from darkness and comfort those who mourn.

So, Lord we ask You to intervene in Israel and Gaza, and the West Bank, and Ukraine and Russia and other war torn areas of the world. Reveal Your Son, Jesus, to the lost and save them. Comfort those who are mourning; heal broken hearts and set prisoners free – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Protect those caught in areas of conflict and lead them to safety.  You are the Prince of Peace and we ask for Your peace to reign in each situation.  We call forward men and women who are filled with Your wisdom to bring forth solutions to crises that seem beyond hope.  For You are our hope.

And Father, touch each reader – give them faith to believe that You are who You say You are and that You have good plans for them. Your plans are to prosper them and not to harm them;to give them a future and hope. So, Lord I ask that those good plans will come to fruition in their lives.  You promise to direct the steps of the godly – please do that today.  Make Your path very clear to each one who is seeking Your way.  In Jesus Mighty Name I pray, Amen!

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Dr. Jodie Chiricosta is vice president of Somebody Cares America/International. She teaches and consults on a variety of Christian living and leadership topics and is the host of the podcast Her God Story.