“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
Looking at examples of prayer from the Old Testament, Brother Allen Roth examines patterns in the “prayer walks” of Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and Daniel. With personal illustrations and practical advice, this is worthy edification for all who wish to grow in their prayer life.
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I would like to continue, beginning with an introduction to some books. I raided my shelf and – books about prayer. Are you acquainted with “Operation World”? This is a great way: pray in a year, around the world, for the different countries of the world in the prayer requests.
You can borrow them if you don’t steal them. Steal means you forgot to return them after you borrowed them. Right? So I would like to have them back. But if you’d like to skim through them this weekend, you’re free to pick them up. Just make sure they come back here again.
In Romans chapter 15 it says,
Whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
And so the Old Testament in part was written for us to be able to learn from the examples in order to have hope and patience and comfort. And this afternoon the topic assigned to me is “Old Testament Examples of Prayer.”
In 2nd Timothy, he says that all Scripture is inspired of God, and is useful for what? For doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. For living and leading a righteous life. And that includes a life of intercessory prayer. Years and years ago when I worked with Grandpa on the construction job in framing houses; I was just getting started. Grandpa was a perfectionist. He was also a very good cabinet maker and clockmaker and so on. And he was telling me how to make a partition. And that’s the part that goes in the wall where a wall joins.
And so he explained how to do it and when he wasn’t looking I thought I had a better way. And I was doing it and Grandpa came to me and said in no uncertain terms – I’ve never forgotten:
“Allen, I want you to do it the way I showed you, and after you’ve mastered that, then if you think you can do it better you can experiment.”
“Yes, sir.” And so I went back to doing it his way. And so we want to look at the pattern. We want to look at Old Testament people who were intercessors and see what we can learn from their prayers from those patterns.
And as we have learned those, then we can experiment from there. I think maybe the first reference to prayer in the Old Testament – maybe – is in Genesis chapter 3. It’s in the Garden. And Adam and Eve are there. They have taken the fruit. They’ve sinned. They’ve become aware that things have gone wrong. And in chapter 3, verse 8 it says,
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Then you know the story of how the Lord called out to them and ask where they are – where they were.
There’s something about this that makes me think that maybe this was not the first time that God had walked with them in the garden in the cool of the day, that it was customary. And as I’ve looked at this again, I thought, “Now, how did I get that idea?” But I have that impression that it was something that was an ongoing thing for them. But this day it had gone wrong and so they went to hide. So first I’d like us to think of Adam being on the first prayer walk, a prayer walk in the garden. And in the cool of the day, maybe the late afternoon or the early evening, God would come and they would walk together and talk together.
But we notice here God came looking for them. He took the initiative. He didn’t need their fellowship. He didn’t need their prayers, but he wanted them. He wanted that conversation with Adam and Eve.
But we also noticed from the very beginning that sin disrupts that fellowship and brings separation. Sin, of course, is what hinders prayer. Do you take prayer walks with God in the garden? Many of you, it looks like you live in a garden. I come to visit in Lancaster and other places – it looks like you live in a park the whole time. It’s so green. It’s so beautiful. I don’t know if you enjoy it or not because you’re so used to it, but just going for a walk.
I remember in 1990, I was up in Massachusetts in Boston going to a workshop, and I decided to go out for a walk and see what it looked like around there. And while I was walking I decided, “Why don’t I just pray?” For a long time I’ve had trouble with praying, falling asleep in prayer. And I’ve discovered that when I walk and pray, I don’t fall asleep. It helps. And so I was walking. I remember that day for the first time praying out loud while I was walking, and I felt kind of embarrassed. You know, what if somebody hears. But you know, I liked it. And since then – that’s 20 years now – I’ve enjoyed going for walks and praying. Sometimes out loud, sometimes just quietly, sometimes whispering, looking at that blue blue sky, and thanking the Lord for it and whatever I see. It’s a wonderful thing.
But here we had, from the very beginning, God and Adam walking together in the garden.
Let’s take another look at another prayer walk.
In Genesis chapter 5 when you see Enoch. Chapter 5, verse 21,
And Enoch lived sixty and five years and begat Methuselah and he walked with God. After he begat Methuselah three hundred years and begat sons and daughters and…
Just pause; there’s something about becoming a parent that makes you want to walk more with God because you discover you really need it. Right? Those of you who are parents, you’re smiling. You know, because you very soon feel your need for guiding this young life and feeling so much your failure, maybe, your ignorance, the weight of responsibility. And so, Enoch began to walk with God. And all the days of Enoch were 365 years, and Enoch walked with God, and he was not for God took him. One day he didn’t come back. Just walked and God took him. What a way to go! I wonder if they put up this tombstone or a marker that said “Enoch walked with God. He’s not here.” I don’t know.
In the New Testament in the hall of faith, it says this about him:
By faith, Enoch was translated (or taken up) that he should not see death and was not found because God had translated him. For before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God.
His walking with God pleased God. It’s a walk of faith. It was a faith walk. And I noticed that it was a lifestyle. He was known to be a man who walked with God, and then one day he just disappeared. So he was regular; it was a regular with him, walking with God. He pleased God. A man of faith.
Are you walking with God? Do you take times just to go and walk with God? And listen? And talk? And meditate?
I like a quote from John Piper book “Let the Nations Be Glad.” He says,
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
It brings him Joy. When we delight in him, he is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Just walking with God. Enoch walked with God.
Let’s take a look at Abraham in Genesis 18. First we saw a prayer walk in the garden. We saw Enoch walking with God as a way of life, a lifestyle. Here we have a man interceding for a city, Abraham. Beginning with verse 22:
And the men…
(referring to two angels and the Lord (in the human form)
…the men turned faces from thence and went towards Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
One version says “He stood still,” he just got still, you know. There’s something about walking with God. That’s wonderful. But sometimes you have to just stop. Just get still. Make your body quiet. Listen. Wait. And Abraham stood still before the Lord. Verse 23:
And Abraham drew near and said,
Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
See the Lord had said that he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. And why was Abraham so concerned about Sodom? Anybody have an idea? There’s a wicked place. Why would he care about Sodom?
His nephew was there. Never mind, the nephew chose the best land. Instead of giving the best choice to his uncle who had raised him. Greedy nephew. But Abraham was concerned for Sodom because his nephew and wife and daughters lived there. So Abraham begins this conversation alone with the Lord. And he says,
Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city – wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner to slay the righteous with the wicked, and that the righteous should be as the wicked. That be far from thee. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?
Just two observations here: if you’ll watch in Abraham’s intercessory prayer here for Sodom and for Lot he uses questions. God is this, is this right for you to destroy the righteous with the wicked? So in our intercessory prayer, it’s appropriate to ask God questions. And not only that but he makes an appeal based on God’s own character. He says, Remember God, you’re just. Is this just to do this? Remember, you’re the judge of all the Earth. Won’t the judge of all the Earth do right?
And the Lord answered and said,
If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
So Abraham’s thinking, let’s see. Lot. Mrs. Lot. Two daughters of Lot. Their two fiances. Six, okay. We got to keep going here. Abraham answered and said,
Behold now. I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord which am but dust and ashes.
And here he is making an appeal based on his own humble position. I’m just dirt. Or if they cremate me, I’m ashes. So he’s taking his place of humility before the Lord, but he continues asking questions in his intercession.
Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, if I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
So again, he’s got it down. It sounds like a Middle Easterner’s bargaining session. That’s what it sounds like. And then Abraham asked him again. So he said now there’s six there. Okay, I’ve got forty-five. I’ve still got a ways to go. So it asks about forty. The Lord said,
I won’t destroy it for forty.
Then in verse thirty,
And he said unto him, oh let not the Lord be angry and I will speak. Peradventure there should be thirty found there?
So here he is appealing that a characteristic of the Lord, the Lord who is slow to anger. So he uses God’s own character. Plus his own humble position as dust, dirt to appeal to God in his intercessory prayer for this city. And the Lord says, I won’t destroy it for thirty. Goes down to twenty. Verse 32:
Oh, let not the Lord be angry and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure ten shall be found there? And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.
Again, he appeals to God’s character for being slow to anger and he got down to ten. He’s probably thinking “Well, there’s six that I know of. I’m sure of the influence, at least four more. Probably those four have four friends. That would make ten.” And so then they close the deal, so to speak, and the Lord was going to spare it for ten. But when the angels got there, they couldn’t find ten. They barely found four.
The two fiances made jokes of them. And so the angels led them out. The four were reluctant. They lost one on the way. She became a pillar of salt, you know the story. They ended up with only three. But at least he had saved three through his intercessory prayer. And so one thing I can see here is: his prayer made a difference. Three people ended up being spared because he spent time in intercessory prayer with the Judge of all the Earth who would do what is right.
Interceding for a city. Back in the ‘80s, Carolyn and I had the opportunity to take a month long course in Muslim evangelism in Philadelphia, put on by Arab World Ministries. And after that was over, they at that time had an initiative to recruit intercessors for a hundred Arabs cities in the Middle East. They asked if we would like to be assigned a city. So we said, yes. So I don’t know how they chose this one, but they said we’d like to assign you Al Ain. We don’t know where that is, but we’ll start in for it. So week by week, we start praying for Al Ain. Well, eventually we discovered that it’s in the United Arab Emirates. So we prayed for Al Ain.
There was a couple in our church, the Carl Yoder’s, working with another mission who are in Saudi Arabia. They had to leave Saudi Arabia because his work permit was not renewed. They came back to the States. I told Carl, “Really Carl, I know you’re teaching English, but you really ought to study Arabic.” And he resisted it, but after being in the states for a year, they decided to go back to the Middle East. And they decide to go back with our mission to study Arabic. Anybody want to guess in which city they ended up studying Arabic? Al Ain. By the way, Al Ain means like a spring where the water bubbles up. So I said, “Oh, this is great. Imagine this – they would end up in Al Ain. What a coincidence!
Well one day in the mission board meeting, since we have the policy that mission couples are to be visited once a year, the mission board was deciding who is going to go and visit the Carl Yoder family. So they went around the circle and asked each mission board member, “Would you like to go and visit them?” And I see I’m going to be the last one in the list, right? So I’m thinking to myself, “I hope they don’t want to.” The first one said “No, it really won’t suit.” Good – one down, four to go. The second one didn’t want to, either. The third one didn’t want to, either. The fourth one didn’t want to, either. And the fifth one didn’t, either. And they asked me, Would you like to go to Al Ain? I said, “I sure would!” and so we went to Al Ain.
I still remember seeing the sign outside the city “Al Ain.” I couldn’t believe I was there! It’s amazing! The city we’ve been praying for. So some years went by, Carl’s actually went to live there and then move to another city. And the most recent chapter in this story of interceding for a city: this summer our son-in-law and youngest daughter decided they want to travel around the world to see if they could agree where they would one day go and work in missions. They want to check the far East, he wanted to. And she wanted to check the Middle East. Guess where they went. Anybody want to guess? Al Ain! to the Oasis Hospital. I couldn’t believe it. This is amazing. I wonder what the next chapters will be.
So interceding for a city. Maybe God would lead you like Abraham to intercede for a city, a very needy city for Christ.
In the fourth place, let’s look at Abraham interceding for a foreign King. Maybe God will lead you to pray for a head of state. In Genesis chapter 20, and just to encourage you, you don’t have to be a perfect person to be an effectual intercessor for heads of state. And that comes out of this passage in Genesis chapter 20, verse 1:
And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet,…
…and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.
And so, the rest of the story continues on. he called in Abraham. He asked him what he was doing and Abraham said in verse 11, he gave his excuse:
Abraham said because I thought surely the fear of God is not in this place and they will slay me for my wife’s sake and she indeed is my sister. She’s the daughter of my father but not the daughter of my mother and she became my wife.
And so on. So he did tell the truth, but he didn’t tell the important part that this king needed to know. She was his half-sister. Here we see a man interceding for a foreign king. He definitely was not perfect as a person. Abraham wasn’t. He had some trouble with lying. He feared for his life, so he deliberately left out the important parts of the story. And the King was misled, and he put his wife in danger of becoming an adulteress.
But God told the king. “Listen, this man is a prophet. Give him back his wife and he’ll pray for you, and just to help you. I put a little motivation in your whole household.” Take a look in verse 17 and 18.
So Abraham prayed unto God and God healed him, Abimelech, and his wife, and his maid servants, and they bear children. For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
Says, just to make sure that you’re going to get this done, none of the ladies in your extended house are going to have children until you get this man to pray for you. And so he did, and Abraham prayed for them, and they were able to bear children again.
So one lesson I learned to this is: God calls imperfect people to pray for other people and he uses imperfect people like us to pray. Now I’m not saying that you should do like Abraham did in misleading people. But it’s an encouragement. God can use us even to pray for heads of state, pray for your governor, pray for your mayor, pray for your president, pray for the head of state of a country in which you have a special interest.
I noticed Aaron – you have a reminder on your wrist “Pray for Pakistan.” Do you know who the head of state is there? You could find out and you could pray for that man. Prayer makes a difference when we pray for heads of state.
The next instance is a man who interceded for a whole nation, and that’s found in Exodus chapter 32. Exodus chapter 32. This is Moses, whose name means “drawn out of the water.” He had been destined for the throne, raised by none other than the princess. Went for exile for forty years into the desert, came back and was used of God to lead his own people, the Jewish people, out of Israel. He’s out in the desert with them wandering around eating the dust for forty years because they had sinned. And when he went up on the mountain to get the Ten Commandments, they in his absence made an idol and worshipped it. And Moses came back, and he saw that, he went back up on the mountain. And in chapter 32, verse 7 we’ll break into the story. He is just seen the people sitting down to eat and to drink and rising up to play. Dancing, probably immoral dancing, and in verse 7:
And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee (Moses) a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said…
Now watch him pray. Watch him intercede. How does he go about this? Here he is in front of an angry God, whose righteous anger is just about to end up in the extermination of a whole people, except one man and his family. How does he go – what would you do? If you were living in New York City like I, and the Lord came and threatened to destroy the whole city, and start out fresh just with you and your family – sometimes I’d be tempted to say, “Yes Lord, go for it.” But what does Moses do? Watch:
And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord…
Now watch – he uses a question.
…why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
First he appeals to the history of God’s people. He appeals to what God himself had done to deliver his own people. “God, why are you doing this when you yourself delivered this people out of Egypt? Verse 12 he marshals another argument:
Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
Again, he asks a question. He says, “Isn’t it possible that the Egyptians are going to misunderstand what you do if you kill this people? They’re going to think that you were not able to take them into the Promised Land. And so you destroyed them out here in the desert and they won’t know the reason that it’s because of idolatry. God, you don’t want the pagan people to misunderstand you and your actions, do you?”
In verse 13 he marshals up another argument.
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
He says, “Remember your covenant. Remember, God, your promises. Remember what you told Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What will happen to those promises?
And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto this people.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.
Perhaps? Maybe? He said, maybe I’ll be able to do this.
And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
Look at the first thing he uses to intercede. “God, will you please forgive them? But- but if you won’t, if you can’t, would you take me instead and spare them?
That reminds me of Paul in the New Testament says, “Oh,” he says, “I have unceasing anguish in my heart for my brethren, the Jewish people. I could wish myself accursed for them if they could be saved.”
So the intercessor here puts himself in the place of the people that he’s interceding for.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
So he’s saying, “Moses, we can’t go there. I won’t take you in place of the people.”
Now 1,200 years later, there was a transaction that happened. The Greater Moses, he went down into death and took our place so that we could be forgiven. But he was perfect and so his offer could be accepted. But Moses’, as good as it was, could not. But continue, verse 34.
Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. And the Lord plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
In chapter 33, verse 12 the intercession continues:
And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
Now watch how Moses is going to intercede again.
Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
So Moses is saying “I am not satisfied with an angel going with us. I need you. And you said that I found grace in your sight. You’ve said that I’ve found favor with you. So I want you to go with me. Look how he used God’s own words. Look how he used what God said about Moses himself as an argument in favor of God’s presence going with them, and not merely an angel only. And God consented:
And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
He’s saying, “Listen, Lord. The only way that we will be distinct as a people among all the peoples of the earth as if you are with us. We can’t be satisfied with less. We want you. We need you. We must have you. Verse 17:
And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
Now, what does Moses do? Presses in further! Oh, you know me by name?
And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee…
And some more things. “And I’ll put you in a crack, in a crevice, in the rock, and I’ll put my hand over it. When I pass by, after I’ve gone by, then I’ll take off my hand and you can watch and you can see my back parts.” In other words the lesser part, not the full expression of his face of his glory.
So there’s Moses interceding. What an amazing man! What a great type of the Christ who had come, the great Intercessor. How Moses uses these arguments: God’s own words, God’s character, God’s history with his people, God’s promises to his people. He uses his own relationship with God, he offers himself to be a sacrifice for these people, and he makes effectual intercession on behalf of Israel so that they wouldn’t be wiped out. Praise God for this wonderful example of intercession! A man interceding for his nation.
Do you think the United States – and if there are any Canadians here or any other nationalities – do you think your country needs intercession today? Oh, if like never before! And you know, it’s easy to grumble and complain. I do more than my share of it, and it worries me at where our nation is going. Just this week a federal judge in California struck down Proposition 8, the vote of the Californians to implement the ban on homosexual marriages. And one man, a federal judge who himself is homosexual, struck that down and said it’s unconstitutional. And Schwarzenegger, the governor says, “I’m ready to sign it as soon as it gets to my desk.” I think, “Oh Lord, have mercy on us as a nation.” We need to pray for our country. That’s one way we can fight for our country. And we shouldn’t be too critical of people going into the army if we’re not willing to pray for our nation.
No, I’m not willing to go and fight in the army to kill people for our country. But am I willing to pray for our country? Do we pray for our president? Do we pray for our governor? our mayor? our representatives and senators, interceding for a nation?
Let’s go to First Chronicles 17 and will see David, a man interceding for his descendants. This could be an encouragement for those of us who are grandparents, for those of us who are parents, for those of us who hope one day to be parents. David is interceding for his descendants. Chapter 17, verse 11. David is older now, and he’s looking toward the day when his son Solomon is going to replace him. And in verse 11, it says:
And it shall come to pass…
This is God speaking to David through Nathan the prophet.
And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.
God rehearsing his promise to David to raise up a son for his throne, and a throne that would be established forever. Looking forward to the Greater David and the Greater Solomon, who would one day come, the Christ, to sit on the throne. Now, look at David’s prayer.
And David the king came and sat before the Lord…
I think this is the only reference in the Bible to the posture of sitting in prayer. So if someone tells you that it’s not right to sit in prayer. You can always go back to this passage and say well here’s one example that it’s okay to sit and prayer sit and pray. But anyway,
and said, Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Lord God. What can David speak more to thee for the honour of thy servant? for thou knowest thy servant.
We could read in between the lines. You know I’ve been an adulterer. You know I’ve been a liar. You know I’ve been a murderer, a schemer. But you know I’ve been repentant and restored. You know I’ve had a son that rebelled against me and revolted against me. You know your servant.
O Lord, for thy servant’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all this greatness, in making known all these great things. O Lord, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
Notice how he’s couching his prayers. “Oh God, you know me. Oh God, look who you are. You’re an amazing God! This is an amazing promise that you’ve made to me.
And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy people whom thou hast redeemed out of Egypt?
Look how he’s referring to God’s greatness, his character. Look how he refers to the history of God’s people. Look how he refers to God’s own character as a great and terrible God. Look how he refers to the history of God’s people being redeemed. Verse 22:
For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, Lord, becamest their God. Therefore now, Lord,
Here’s the turning point in the prayer.
Lord because of what you’ve done, because of who you are, because of what you’ve promised, because of you knowing who I am, because of what you said to me, this wonderful promise you’ve given that I will have descendants on the throne forever.
Therefore now, Lord, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house be established for ever, and do as thou hast said. Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for ever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee. For thou, O my God, hast told thy servant that thou wilt build him an house: therefore thy servant hath found in his heart to pray before thee. And now, Lord, thou art God, and hast promised this goodness unto thy servant: Now therefore let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may be before thee for ever: for thou blessest, O Lord, and it shall be blessed for ever.
Oh God, he says, now will you do what you have said? This is so wonderful. I’m asking you. You’ve put it now in my heart to just ask you what you’ve told me you would do.
So here brothers and sisters, we see that God’s initiative and God’s promises and God’s Word becomes the fuel for our intercessory prayer.
We can go back and we can say, “God, look what you said right here.” I remember in my early 20s, I was struggling with assurance of salvation. And I heard a speaker talking about First John 5
these things are written to you who believe in the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may believe in the Son of God.
So literally, I opened up my Bible to First John 5:11 & 12, and I read it and I said, “God, right here you say that if I believe in the Son of God, I may know that I have eternal life. I do believe in you. If I didn’t believe enough in you before, I do now. I believe in you now, and right here and now I do rest my claim on your own words that I have eternal life, and that’s settled.”
And we can do that for many other things. We can go into the Word of God and we can take his promises, rightly applied, and we can turn them into prayer. Now I wouldn’t for example, if you’re having trouble with one of your neighbors, I wouldn’t go to one of the Psalms, it says, “May their children be dashed upon the rocks.” I wouldn’t turn that promise into a prayer. So you need to know how to use the promises rightly. But take God’s own words and God’s own initiative, and we turn it then into confidence in intercessory prayer. And he says here, “Lord, it is for your glory and for your name, for the sake of your name.” That’s what makes the difference.
So interceding for our descendants. And I had thought that when our children would get married and would be on their own that then our work would be done. I discovered that when they get married and they get on their own your work is still not done. There are things to pray about, and there always will be things to pray about. So here’s the example of a man interceding for his descendants.
Another example would be Solomon interceding for a new place of worship. We won’t look at it because our time is almost finished, but I’ll mention it to you so you can study it for yourself, in Second Chronicles chapter 6. And you will see how he intercedes for this new temple. And what were the petitions he asked? And on what basis did he ask them?
And then, in another example, would be in Daniel chapter 9, an example of a man interceding for God’s wayward people, for the people of God, and how they had gone astray, and you will see there that his habit of Bible reading actually prepared him and prompted him for intercessory prayer, because he had been reading the Word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, and discovered about this thing of seventy years of captivity. And so he began to pray. And he identified with his own people.
Here’s a man who is known as a godly man. There was no fault in him. The muckrakers, his enemies, could not find any fault in him. And so they had to go after his religious affiliation. That’s how good he was.
But here’s this man identifying with the sins of his people. And you can look through that passage. What were the sins that he confessed on behalf of his people? How did he reference God’s character in his intercessory prayer. What were his petitions that he asked on behalf of the people? What were the basis for his requests? And then it says at the end, “Daniel you are greatly loved beloved of the Lord. At the very beginning of your prayer you were heard and I’ve come to answer you.”
We will discover through Daniel’s intercessory prayer that not all delays in intercessory prayer are because we are ineffective. Someone mentioned already this weekend – it says the “Prince of Persia,” perhaps a high-ranking demon opposed him. The angel bringing the answer to Daniel to his prayer. We learn also from that that it’s appropriate for intercessors to identify with the failures of their people. Jesus himself did that it says and “He was numbered with the transgressors.” He came to intercede for us. Think of Jesus on that hill looking over Jerusalem weeping, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I longed to gather you together, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! O Jerusalem!” So here is the Greater Daniel interceding for his people, numbered with the transgressors.
I want to conclude with this little story:
There was a family in our in our church that went through a very, very difficult time. It was discovered that the father had been inappropriately touching his young daughter. And it came out, and we have the opportunity to walk with the father and the mother through repeated trials, court hearings. For her, it was family court. But for him it was criminal court. And I remember one day in that court as the session began the judge asked, “And so who are these people with the accused?” Right away, I feel my face getting red and hot, and my heart beginning to beat with shame. And I thought to myself. “I don’t belong here. This is shameful. I don’t want to be here. I’m here against my will.” And I had to identify myself your honor. I’m the pastor of the accused. And just at that moment it says, “And he was numbered with the transgressors.”
That’s what Jesus did for us. Oh, the shame that he went through as an intercessor identifying with the sins of his people! The shame Daniel must have felt as he prayed on behalf of his people!
And so I want to encourage us as intercessors. We’ve only scratched the surface here – the prayers of the Old Testament – but this is to get you going, to whet your appetite, and just by way of review then:
Walking in the garden with God, fellowship with him. Are you, as a lifestyle, interceding for a city, maybe for your town nearby, or maybe a city, a capital city, or another city among the unreached people, interceding for heads of state, people in places of influence, interceding for our country, interceding for our descendants, interceding for the wayward people of God who need revival and restoration.
Let’s bow our heads to pray.
Father in heaven, we come to you confessing that we have neglected so much. We have neglected the ministry of intercessory prayer. We have not seen its importance. And for that reason our prayer meetings are the least attended meetings in the life of the church. And we ask, Father, for you to forgive us as a people and to awaken us. Father, you know how so easily we get drowsy in prayer. Help us to rise and walk with you in prayer, to be alert in prayer. Father, show us for whom we should intercede, whether it’s for an individual, whether it’s for a relative and his family. Maybe it’s for a city. Maybe a nearby town. Maybe it’s for a head of state. Or someone in a place of political influence. Maybe it’s for our countries which are becoming so needy, and so wayward, oh God, and bring such reproach on your Name. Maybe it’s for the people of God. We so much need renewal and revival and holiness, oh God, and a hunger for your things. Oh Father, you show us how you want us to be involved in intercessory prayer. Father, help us to see that this is one ministry that Jesus esteems so highly that he is yet fulfilling this ministry from the throne day and night on our behalf. Father, may your Holy Spirit, your Spirit of intercessory prayer, stir us up to be intercessors. I pray that you would call forth in this group young men and women and not-so-young men and women to embrace, to take up the ministry of intercessory prayer. I pray that all across the church you would awaken older brothers and sisters to see that the most fruitful days of life and Ministry can still be ahead, the ministry of intercessory prayer. And would you teach us what it means to pray in the Spirit, led by the Spirit, whether it’s for towns, individuals, descendants, heads of state, churches, or whatever it may be. For we ask in Jesus’ Name, and all God’s people together agree and say “Amen.”