One of the areas that I believe is least understood by Christians is the partnership that God has called us to with Himself in prayer. God, in His wisdom and sovereign power, has chosen to accomplish His will on this planet through the prayers of His people. God has decided not to arbitrarily move in and out of situations on earth, even though He is able to do just that. Instead, He waits on His people to pray and then pours out His power in response to those prayers.
Ezekiel 22:30 is a passage of Scripture that illustrates this principle of how the Lord works. “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” God uses the illustration of a walled city to demonstrate His commitment to prayer. The walls protect a city from enemy attack. But through neglect (sin), the walls can begin to crumble and a gap or opening in the wall can create a dangerous situation where the enemy can come in. God said of Israel in Ezekiel’s day, that they had allowed such a situation to develop. It was going to result in the destruction of the land, unless someone stood before the Lord in the gap on behalf of the land. This is a clear picture of God’s desire for us to engage in intercessory prayer.
What is absolutely heartbreaking is that God Himself was looking for an intercessor. He was looking for someone who would stand before Him in prayer on behalf of Israel so that He would not have to destroy her because of sin and rebellion. God’s desire is made clear here. He did not want to destroy Israel. He was waiting for an intercessor so He wouldn’t have to. God had chosen to reserve His power to save the nation of Israel for those who prayed. But no intercessor was to be found. Israel was defeated by the Babylonians and her people were in exile for 70 years.
Loving Father, I know there are many times I should intercede on behalf of others, but I neglect the assignment in favor of other activity or pursuits. Forgive my prayerlessness, and give me a fresh resolve to stand in the gap on behalf of the people and situations that You place upon my heart. May I never neglect an opportunity to be Your instrument of prayer.
–Adapted from the article Partnering with God in Prayer by David Butts, co-author of Pray Like the King: Lessons from the Prayers of Israel’s Kings. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God that he speaks in ways that even the lonely, anguished, and defeated can understand (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Give thanks that all things are possible in God (Mt. 19:26). Confess the many times you are tempted to work things out yourself, or are enmeshed in self-pity (Rom. 8:28). Commit to God all who are defeated and lonely. Ask God to help you remember that all you do is to be done in the name of Jesus, giving thanks and glory to him (Col. 3:17).
Pray that God will give your church a heart for reaching the nations of the world for Christ, through encouragement of missionaries, through giving, and through prayers.
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.