Our first three points were:
1.) God gives revelation of coming judgment so that we will intercede for it not to happen.
2.) We can intercede for judgment to be averted or minimized “for the sake of the righteous.”
3.) Your individual prayers make a difference.
Here are two more principles:
4.) It can be late in the game and look entirely hopeless, yet God can change everything overnight. Pray for miraculous intervention. Another story of deliverance which came because of intercession can be found in 2 Kings, 18 and 19, with parallel accounts in 2 Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36 and 37. The king of Assyria had conquered all the other nations around Judah. Furthermore, Hezekiah had gotten into the flesh, panicked, and tried to ally himself with Egypt for protection — which Isaiah had clearly warned him by the word of the Lord not to do (Isaiah 30 and 31). Egypt failed to help, and nearly all the cities of Judah had fallen into the Assyrians’ hands. Now Jerusalem itself was under siege.
It couldn’t have gotten much bleaker than this. The Assyrian king’s envoys taunted the people, “Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you into believing God will help you. God won’t deliver you! In fact, the LORD is backing me up. He’s the one who said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it!'” (2 Kings 18:25, 30, 32).
But Hezekiah still trusted God for deliverance. He humbled his heart, and as he and Isaiah interceded together, the Lord intervened in a way no one would have thought possible. He destroyed the Assyrian army overnight.
Although the intervention came suddenly, Jerusalem had been under siege for some time, possibly as long as two years (Isaiah 37:30). It was during this same time when Hezekiah became deathly ill.
When things go from bad to worse, don’t give up. Persist in prayer. Intercede for God’s miraculous intervention. Keep your eyes on the Lord as you pray. Eventually, God’s “suddenly” moment will arrive.
5.) We can repent on behalf of our nation and receive results. In Daniel 9, we have a model prayer for how to intercede on behalf of our country. Daniel set himself to intercede for Israel’s return to their homeland.
- He used Scripture as his foundation (Jeremiah’s prophecy that the exile would be over in seventy years).
- He fasted and humbled himself.
- He reminded God of His mercy.
- And he repented for the sins of his people.
Daniel was a righteous man, yet he prayed, “God forgive us. We have sinned.” He identified with the sin of the nation as a whole. When we pray about “their” sin, thinking in terms of the wickedness going on around us as something apart from ourselves, we tend to feel self-righteous, much as the Pharisee did in relation to the publican in Jesus’ parable found in Luke 18:9-14. When we identify with the collective sin of our country, however, we tend to have a great deal more compassion and unselfish fervency in prayer. An attitude of “we’re all in this together” builds a more effective prayer.
Next time, we’ll talk about specific ways we can pray for our nation and also some ways we should not pray.