‘Why does God want us to pray?‘
If God is all powerful, can do anything, then why does he want us to pray?
Is there any point to praying? That’s a thought I’ve been struggling with recently when I’ve been praying for justice for Masih das and Sarita locked away in an Indian prison on trumped up charges by anti Christian factions to try and end the gospel ministry going out from Bethany House following that awful surprise attack in June
The incident that happened to the two million Israelite’s out in the desert just after escaping from Egypt after 400 years of slavery, is the one that gives me a more positive perspective to ‘keep on keeping on praying’.
In Exodus 17 we read of what God showed them as they were suddenly hit by an unprovoked surprise attack by the Amalekites. Although Joshua led the Israelite army into battle, the spotlight of the story shines on Moses at the top of the hill showing us that when ever Moses held up his hands in prayer, Joshua was able to prevail, but whenever he lowered his arms the Amalekites came back. What God wants to show us in no unmistakable terms is that what mattered was not the strength of Israel’s army, but the strength of Israel’s God as Moses laid hold of his throne in prayer.
When his arms grew tired and he lowered them to change position or give them a rest, you could see something happen immediately down in the battle ground – the enemy would be able to regroup and come back on the offensive, so two of Moses friends , Aaron and Hur lifted his arms back up again, and straight away the effect was seen down in the valley, with Joshua coming back strongly. The battle ebbed and flowed according to where Moses arms were, according to the flow of prayer going on up there on the mountain. Eventually the battle was won, the Amalekites totally defeated, and to mark this remarkable ‘prayer won’ victory Moses built an altar and called it ‘The Lord is my banner’, where he said ‘A hand was laid on the Lord’s Throne’.
Prayer is difficult, really difficult. We grow tired, and just like Moses we need to have others with us in the prayer room to lift our spirits when they flag. Laying a hand on God’s throne requires determination and persistence and focus. It’s difficult, really difficult, requiring spiritual energy and reliance on the Holy Spirit. That’s why many find it easier to do the Joshua type work, down in the valley. But both are needed for Gospel advance – people in the prayer room and people out on the streets.
Many of the churches I know are sadly declining or plateauing. The battle is not going well down in the valley for most churches because there are very few up there on the hill doing Moses work – there’s no prayer strategy, no calls for husbands and wives to pray together, no prayer breakfasts, no prayer nights, no half nights of prayer, no prayer mornings (plenty of coffee mornings!), no gathering the whole church to lay hold of God’s throne regarding a breakout of healing and victory in evangelism. We open meetings in prayer, we close meetings in prayer, but we never lay a hand on God’s throne in prayer.
Lets invest our energies in the God who answers prayer, like Moses did, and see him answer in ways that make him unmistakably visible not just to our church but to the whole surrounding community. That’s what I’m praying will happen when God wins that battle going on in India and we have the joy of marking it with some memorial to the Living God, who made Himself visible through answering His people’s prayers