By Lewis Willis
I would rather suspect that more fervent prayer has been offered to God in the last 6-8 months, than at any similar time in recent memory. The young men and women of our military were engaged in war, and we had no way of knowing how long it would last or how costly it would be in terms of lives lost. It was a frightening time and people across this nation were praying. I can’t recall how long it has been since brethren, in their public prayers, so consistently mentioned a matter, in leading the church to the Throne of Grace in prayer. I do not know the lessons we will learn from this war, but we certainly should have learned that prayer works (Jas. 5:16).
It is also worthy of note that the people of Iraq were praying to their god at the same time we were praying to Jehovah. They expected their god to deliver them, as we were asking Jehovah to deliver us. In assessing the utter defeat of Iraq, I was reminded of that occasion in Israel when Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. Sacrifices were prepared and Baal’s prophets asked Baal to show that he was a god. Nothing happened. Elijah asked Jehovah to demonstrate that he was God “that this people may know that thou art the Lord God.” God sent down fire and consumed Elijah’s sacrifice. On that occasion, when a false god entered a contest with Jehovah, the false god lost. The people cried, “The Lord, he is the God” (1 Kgs. 18:19-39). One wonders, since another contest has occurred between Jehovah and a false god, if people have had their faith in Jehovah strengthened. God has taught his people throughout history to have no other gods (Exod. 20:3). Do you suppose the people of the world will ever learn?
This is not a time, however, for God’s people to cease praying. We should as fervently pray for peace to exist in that troubled area of the world, as we prayed for an end to the war. It appears that efforts are under way to seek a resolution to those problems. God’s people will ask him to help in that solution. We must remember that God rules in the affairs of the nations (1 Chron. 29:12; 2 Chron. 20:6; Dan. 4:17,25,32; 5:21; Jn. 19:11). If he answers our prayers for peace, perhaps this world could begin to dismantle the war machines that have been built. What a relief that would be!
One of the mistakes we frequently make in exercising the privilege of prayer is that we only pray when things are bad. If God answers those prayers regarding bad things that are happening to us, why would he not answer our prayers regarding that which is good? We must learn the lesson to pray regarding good things as well. Life has to be better when God responds to his people, regarding both the good and bad in life.
A strong spirit of Patriotism exists in our nation today. People are praising our nation for the good in it, not just for its war fighting ability. We have seen the flag waved proudly again and that inspires a good feeling. Not only has the national mood improved, but we are beginning to see additional benefits from the spirit of the American people. We are told that our nation’s economy is in a recession. I heard Paul Harvey, the news commentator, say last week that the latest polls indicate that consumer confidence has turned around and people are getting on with their lives, now that the war is over. People are buying or building homes, traveling, purchasing large ticket items, etc., and these are the things that bring the economy out of recession. It is easy to bad-mouth the government, but, that sours everybody’s attitude about the government and everything else. It is refreshing to hear people say good things about our great country. And those words are helping. For the Christian, he is aware that God appoints that he honor and submit to his government (1 Pet. 2:13-17). It is a delight to see people of the world doing what faithful Christians do all the time.
Prayer helps. We saw a short war, with few allied casualties. Let us pray that we will now see great peace, not only in the Middle East, but in all the world. Let us pray that a good spirit will prevail regarding our country and its leadership. Let us pray that our domestic problems might be handled as successfully as the war was handled. As Christians, let us pray for the church, that its work will be fruitful. Let us pray that the lost will respond to the Gospel. Let us pray for our parents, that they will raise their children as God teaches. Let us pray for our young people, that they will make wise choices in their lives. Christians pray (Lk. 18:1; Rom. 8:26; Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-2,8). Not only do Christians pray, they pray in confidence, knowing that God answers the prayers that are offered “according to his will” (1 Jn. 5:14-15). “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
If we are not getting our prayers answered, there are two possible problems. (1) Perhaps we are not asking them “according to his will.” Or, (2) Something in our lives is hindering our prayers. Peter spoke of husbands conducting themselves as they should, “that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7). The lesson is, as we take our needs to God in heaven through our prayers, we must be living soberly, righteously and godly every day (Tit. 2:11-12). When our lives are right, we will pray earnestly, knowing that prayer works!
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 10, p. 298
May 16, 1991