So I was at the gym this morning and watching the news about the school shooting in Florida. You guys, it’s so tragic. Just watching the images briefly flash on the screen was heart-wrenching. Our world is so broken. Wouldn’t you know it, I go on Facebook, and like after all school shootings, people are scoffing at sending thoughts and prayers to those affected in Florida. Why don’t you do something instead?! I agree on one point, thoughts don’t go very far. But, prayer? Prayer reaches across oceans and through mountains. Prayer performs miracles. Prayer is a tangible method of defense. Prayer reaches the ears of the almighty God. And, like others “sending prayers”, I’m not just praying for the people who were affected. I’m praying for this broken world. I’m praying for God’s justice. I’m praying for the people in those heart-stopping pictures. I’m praying for them to find and feel God’s comfort. I’m praying for God to make something good out of it. It’s awful what has happened, yes. And, there are tangible things that we can do to help prevent it. These events are senseless. And, I’m glad people are outraged at atrocities like this. My own high school has been affected by a school shooting, so I get it. But, I tend to laugh at all of our attempts to prevent and control the evil in the world. The forces of evil are not going to be stopped by our laws and our desperate attempts to control the world. God is the only one who can step in and heal the evil.
“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin. No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as [God] is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
-1 John 3:4-8
But for those of you laughing at prayer, I’m sorry, have we forgotten about the immense power of prayer?
Daniel 6:16, 19-23
*Also read Daniel 3 if you want another example*
“So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!’…At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?’ Daniel answered, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.’…when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him because he had trusted his God.”
And then, the men who had accused Daniel of his crime were thrown into the lions’ den and torn to pieces. May God rescue us from this broken world. The funny thing is, it was the king who prayed for Daniel. Not that Daniel didn’t pray in the lions’ den, I certainly would have been praying. But, God saved Daniel.
Jonah 1:17-2:3, 2:7-8, 10
“But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me…When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.’…And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”
How’d you like to be in the belly of the fish? For three days, nonetheless. No, thanks. Jonah prayed and God saved him from imminent death. Pay attention. Don’t forfeit God’s offered grace. You think you can do better than God? He has a plan. Unfortunately, sometimes that plan takes years to accomplish. But, reminder, we can’t see the whole picture! Only God can.
Exodus 14:10, 14:13-15, 14:17-18
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord…Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’ Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘…I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.'”
God literally killed an entire army in the middle of the Red Sea to save His people. The Israelites prayed for deliverance and boy did God deliver. What lengths do you believe He will go to in order to save those who belong to Him? Don’t be naïve in thinking prayer does nothing.
Acts 12:1-3, 5, 7-10
“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also…After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him…Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up!’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists…Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.”
I’m sorry, so Peter just up and walked out of prison, past all the guards, his shackles just fell off, and he went through the gate, that opened by itself, to the city? Seems impossible, right? Guess what? The church prayed earnestly for Peter to be saved. And God did it.
I had to give examples of what prayer can do because, apparently, many people have forgotten what the power of earnest prayer looks like. If you are someone who is scoffing at people praying about the situation in Florida, I have to say that you seem like the ignorant one. It’s wonderful to try and do things on earth that will help prevent things like this, but what power do we really have over criminal intent? Laws won’t stop those who intend to cause harm. Who has that power? You don’t. God does. Change comes from the heart that only God can transform. God could have performed a miracle to save all of those children in Florida without even blinking. And, that’s the hard part about faith. Nonbelievers ask how God could let such a thing happen. Even I ask that sometimes. But when our world is trying to erase God from everything, how do you expect nothing bad to happen? The unknown is where faith comes in. God’s timing is not ours and we have no idea what kind of good is going to come out of this horrific event. And, good will come of it. God promises that (Jeremiah 29:11). But, what we can do, is pray, share the gospel, and offer God’s comfort to those who need it. The minute you start praying, the devil starts cowering. And, for those of you who think these are all just made up stories and have no bearing on our world today, you are going to be surprised one day. Whether you believe or not, you can’t contain the power of God.
Want more examples of answered prayer? Read 1 Samuel 1-2. Also read Daniel 2. The book of Daniel is just full of gems!