Mission Harvest © 2011 William J. Brannan
If the church today would begin to grasp the incredible power of prayer, we would see great personal, local and national miracles take place. All nations on the earth are groaning under the tyranny and oppression caused by sin; whether it manifest in economic distress, political and moral corruption, sickness and disease or any other form, people are looking for relief. Yet, people often become convinced that the powers that be are too great and too entrenched for them to dare to hope for change. They cannot imagine that there is any power great enough to deal with the giant problems which are in the land. Yet, when we turn to Scripture, we discover that there is not only hope that things can change, but also a clear strategy to bring about such change. A critical element of that strategy is prayer.
One of the clear messages of the Bible is that God is almighty and His throne is over every other throne in the Earth. When human systems of justice fail, and there is no hope left from a human perspective, there is a Supreme Court in heaven which is able to overcome every form of injustice and evil in the Earth. This is why one of the primary words for prayer in the Old Testament literally means "to invoke God as judge". The Biblical worldview demonstrates how there can be hope in every situation because God is able to do what is humanly impossible.
A great example of this takes place in the book of 2 Kings when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, besieged Jerusalem with a great army. Hezekiah was King in Jerusalem at the time, and he beheld what was, by all standards of man, an impossible situation. It seemed like there was no way for them to be rescued from the massive army assembled right outside of the city. Yet, with God there is always hope. In response to the situation, Hezekiah didn't turn to other nations in hope that they would rescue him; he knew that they were powerless to do so. Instead he turned to God in prayer:
"Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: "O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men's hands-wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone."" (2 Kings 19:15-19, NKJV)
In a situation where the hearts of lesser men would be destroyed by despair, Hezekiah had the light of hope for salvation because his eyes of faith could see that even a great army is no match for God. In response to his prayer of faith, salvation came for Jerusalem:
"And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses-all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword." (2 Kings 19:35-37, NKJV)
This story demonstrates the incredible power of prayer to deal with real life situations which are humanly impossible to solve. If we can restore such praying in our generation, we will see similar manifestations of national deliverance because God has not changed. He has covenanted Himself to answer prayer. We may not be surrounded by a physical army seeking to destroy us, but we are certainly surrounded by all kinds of evil and injustice which, humanly speaking, is impossible to overcome. Yet what is impossible with man is possible with God.
I am a firm believer in the incredible power of the gospel to transform people and society. The commission given by Jesus to spread the gospel calls us to teach people to observe all that Christ has commanded us. One of the things that Jesus taught, by both word and deed, is the power of prayer. Prayer is so important that Scriptures teach that it is prayer that gives power to God's word to work powerfully upon people's hearts. Yet the power and possibilities of prayer go far beyond that: prayer has power to change the world even when people in the world do not respond by faith to the call of the gospel. In response to prayer, God can turn the tide of moral, political, economic and every other form of trouble even when people do not respond to the gospel by faith.
I am very excited that God has entrusted both the ministry of the Word and prayer to the church because these are two powerful means with which to bless people and bless society. True Biblical religion empowers us to be a blessing and empowers us to overcome evil in the world. One of the most important ways we can change the world is through prayer. If the church would once again believe that God is able to deal with impossible situations, and that He does so in response to prayer, all nations would reap incredible blessings from such faith.