Summary: Prevailing prayer enables us to go beyond seeing the need met, to seeing the need meeter.
THE NEED FOR PREVAILING PRAYER
TEXT - Exodus 17:8-16 8 While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek came to fight against them. 9 Moses commanded Joshua, “Call the Israelites to arms, and fight the army of Amalek. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”
10 So Joshua did what Moses had commanded. He led his men out to fight the army of Amalek. Meanwhile Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of a nearby hill. 11 As long as Moses held up the staff with his hands, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites gained the upper hand. 12 Moses’ arms finally became too tired to hold up the staff any longer. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side, holding up his hands until sunset. 13 As a result, Joshua and his troops were able to crush the army of Amalek.
14 Then the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down as a permanent record, and announce it to Joshua: I will blot out every trace of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar there and called it “The Lord Is My Banner.” 16 He said, “They have dared to raise their fist against the Lord’s throne, so now the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.”
Often because I grew up on Bible stories at home and Sunday school etc., I think I know them all pretty well. This is one of those stories until recently.
God recently brought me back to this story and as I read it, words of v12 leapt out at me. “Moses’ arms finally became too tied….” They struck me because I had always assumed that tiredness was the (only) reason Moses put his hands down. But God said to me, “Moses lowered his hands before v12 and it was not tiredness. Moses held up the staff and when Israel had the advantage, he thought it would be OK to put his hands down. When he did of course the Amalekites gained the upper hand. So Moses put this hand and the staff of God up again. The battle turned in Israel’s favour again.”
How many times Moses did this I don’t know. I believe it must have been a least a couple of times for Moses to begin to see the pattern and understand he had to keep his hands and the staff of the Lord up. Then Moses finally get tired and Aaron and Hur, stood along side Moses to help.
God said to me, Moses lowered his hands for the same reason many of my people stop praying - they see in the natural
the battle turning their way,
positive change in circumstances etc.
and think it is OK to lower the prayer commitment. They fail to realize that in their prayers, like in Moses hands, is my staff, my banner, my insignia, my standard, my authority.
Like Moses, my people need to learn to prevail in prayer. To pray until I give my people total victory. My people need to see the need for prevailing prayer.
• Negative Example - King Jehoash and Elisha
2 Kings 13:14-20 When Elisha was in his last illness, King Jehoash of Israel visited him and wept over him. “My father! My father! The chariots and charioteers of Israel!” he cried.
15 Elisha told him, “Get a bow and some arrows.” And the king did as he was told.
16 Then Elisha told the king of Israel to put his hand on the bow, and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. 17 Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he did.
Then Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, full of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek. 18 Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. 19 But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until they were entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”
20 Then Elisha died and was buried.
The arrows in this story carried the symbolic authority God has the staff in Moses hands. When the king was told to strike the ground with them he thought 3 times is enough. Again like many of God’s people today, we can not see the significance of these things in the spiritual realm. The king would have 3 victories but would not prevail and ‘entirely destroy’ the enemy.