“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Prayer is the soul’s breathing; we cannot live spiritually without it. Prayer is an indispensable part of a fruitful, victorious and God-honoring life. The Bible is replete with references to the efficacy of prayer. Prayer changes things. Isaac prayed that his wife, Rebekah, would have a child. Though the answer to his prayer was delayed some 20 years, the LORD opened Rebekah’s womb and she bore twins (Genesis 25:20-26). Hannah’s prayers for a son were similarly answered and she bore Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-20). The prophet Isaiah told the ailing Hezekiah that he would die (2 Kings 20:1). In response to Hezekiah’s desperate prayer, the LORD mercifully added another 15 years to his life (2 Kings 20:2-6). Stephen’s prayer for his murderers is especially moving. Luke states that his attackers “cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:58-60). These answered prayers form an important chain of events that profoundly affected Israel’s, in fact our own, redemptive histories. Isaac’s prayer led to the birth of Jacob, the immediate progenitor of the 12 tribes of Israel, including the tribe of Judah from which our Lord came (Hebrews 7:14; Revelation 5:5). Hannah’s prayer led to the birth of Samuel, whose own prayers led to the salvation of Israel from the hands of their enemies the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:6-13). During Hezekiah’s extra 15 years of life he and his wife bore a son, Manasseh, who was heir to the throne. Though he did much evil, he later repented and found forgiveness (2 Chronicles 33:12-13). Though his son, Amon was godless until the day of his death (2 Chronicles 33:21-33), his grandson, Josiah, called the nation back to true religion and the worship of Jehovah God (2 Chronicles 34). Stephen’s remarkable prayer, which mirrored the Lord’s own prayer for those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34), led to the salvation of Saul of Tarsus, arguably the most spiritually-minded, courageous, and productive missionary in church history. The Lord encourages us to pray persistently and to not lose heart (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-7). “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,” said the Lord, “ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). What would the Lord have us to pray about today, and what spectacular answers to our prayers is our Lord preparing to give? May we take Him at His word, continually addressing Him in humble, believing prayer.