After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” . . . Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”. . . The sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on. —1 Kings 18:1, 42–45
In the first year of his [Darius] reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. —Daniel 9:2–3
Intercession, like all true prayer, starts with God. God tells us what He wants us to ask so that we can ask what He wants, and then He in turn answers our prayer and accomplishes what He wills. His part in this scenario is to reveal to us what to pray about. Our part is to listen and to pray about those things that He reveals. When it comes to prayer God initiates, we collaborate.
When Israel repented, following the drought they had brought on themselves through their worship of Baal, God promised to send them rain. He said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” On hearing that, Elijah did not presume that the rain would come whether or not he prayed. He presumed the very opposite, that he needed to pray in order to bring to pass what God was committed to do. So “Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.” The face-between-his-knees position was a posture associated with intense prayer. Elijah prayed intensely, not just once but seven times, before God’s answer came. Elijah listened and then prayed for the promised rain. God heard and sent the rain He had promised.
Daniel also listened and prayed. He listened to the scriptures: “I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures . . . that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” When Daniel discovered that the seventy years were nearly up, he didn’t just twiddle his thumbs and watch for the end of the captivity. Instead, we read that he “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel didn’t doubt that God would keep His promise to restore Jerusalem. He also didn’t doubt that prayer was a necessary part of bringing it to pass.
Father, Your heart is what I am after! Your Word reveals Your promises and Your desires, yet I am consistently pulled towards only praying my own list of wants and needs. Help me to have the faith of Elijah and Daniel so that I might be purposeful about interceding on a strategic level. Make me willing to humble myself to commit to fasting and crying out for Your will to be accomplished! Show me how to be so focused on Your Word that I will fervently plead for Your kingdom to come and Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven!
–Adapted from Praying God’s Heart (Prayers that Make a Difference) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise the God of truth, whose words are trustworthy (2 Sam. 7:28). Thank Jesus for being the only way, truth, and life (Jn. 14:6). Confess the times you’ve chosen to believe the lies of Satan rather than the true promises of God. Commit yourself, as a member of Christ’s body, to speaking truthfully in all your relationships (Eph. 4:25). Ask God to buckle the belt of truth around your waist.
The devil is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44). Ask that Satan’s empty schemes will be exposed and that unsaved people will believe in Jesus.
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