Our prayers can change nations – keep at it!
Here is a truth you can count on: we will never know just how important, efficacious and life-transforming our prayers have been this side of eternity. But come the next life, I am certain all praying Christians will be utterly amazed at what their prayers helped to accomplish.
Sure, it is ultimately God who accomplishes great things, but he has chosen to use us in the process. He has chosen to use our prayers as part of the way he gets things done. And it is not just personal prayers about personal matters that get answered, but prayers for big ticket items, including the rise and fall of nations as well.
Of course it may not always seem like our prayers are being answered. But God does hear the prayers of his people, and sometimes he answers them in ways we may not now understand. He may say ‘no’ to what we are praying for, or he may have us wait for his perfect timing.
But sometimes it seems like the prayers of thousands have not been answered, and it can be tough to go through these periods. The obvious example of this is here in Victoria where the wretched pandemic legislation that Dan Andrews has been pushing has got through the upper house of parliament.
Although very slightly amended from its original form, it is still among the worst bill passed in this nation. His already over-the-top despotic powers are now increased even further, and anyone who dares to defy him will face very heavy penalties indeed.
The state opposition has vowed to rip up the bill if it gets into power. But of course the state election is a full year away, and enormous amounts of damage can happen before then. Worse yet, Labor might just be returned to power next November. In which case we are all toast indeed.
So where was God in all this? Did he not hear the prayers of his people? He is there and he did hear. How he is working out his purposes is often unclear to us. But I will keep running with the words of Spurgeon about such matters:
“God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart. When you are so weak that you cannot do much more than cry, you coin diamonds with both your eyes. The sweetest prayers God ever hears are the groans and sighs of those who have no hope in anything but his love.”
He would have had Romans 8:26-28 in mind when he said that:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Sometimes that is all we can do: just offer up to him our broken and grieving hearts, even with moans and groans. But they are certainly taken into account. So God does answer all prayers, one way or another. And if he sometimes answers with a delay, we can thank him for his wisdom and his divine timing.
In this regard let me refer to a piece I wrote yesterday. In light of the erosion of freedom and democracy all over the West, and the rise of ugly Statism, I discussed two miraculous moves of God in the former Communist world. The prayers and actions of God’s people resulted in amazing things, including the fall of the Berlin Wall. Those inspiring stories are found here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2021/12/01/miracles-people-power-and-freedom/
But after posting that article my wife read it and she reminded me of the importance of prayer, and a small role that we had to play in all this. Way back in 1980 when we were missionaries with YWAM in Holland, a group of some 30 young people spent a few weeks in the Soviet Union travelling around on a bus.
The Iron Curtain was still well and truly up then, and the Cold War was bubbling along ferociously. But the Communist authorities allowed us to come in, likely eager to get a bit of Western currency in their hands, and to use it as another propaganda exercise.
Thus we were only allowed to go where they would let us go, and at all times we had a KGB agent (they called her our ‘tourist guide’) with us as we travelled. It was an interesting trip indeed. While we had learned a smidgen of Russian ahead of time, for the most part of course we could not communicate with most people there.
So while we could not speak to many people, nor freely witness to those we found that did speak English, we could – and did – do a lot of praying. We also did worship songs and dance as part of our time there. Our joyous singing and colourful costumes were in such a contrast to the dreary, sombre and oppressive greyness that we found there: the grey buildings, the grey people, the grey atmosphere.
The contrast was so great that we would often see people breaking into tears as they watched us perform. The old, weathered men and women who had known nothing but the hellishness of godless communism for the past half century saw something they had hardly ever seen before: joyful, radiant and vibrant young people singing and worshipping the living God.
Although we were not able to speak to many people and share the good news, as I say, we did have a lot of time to travel around parts of the USSR and do some hardcore praying and spiritual warfare. And all those prayers that we prayed while there did have an impact, even if years later.
Many of the places where we travelled had been where much of the freedoms began to emerge in the late 1980s: Kiev in the Ukraine, Tbilisi in Georgia, and so on. Our prayers – and those of others – helped to pave the way for the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of tyrannical communism.
As our good friend Ed who was with us on this bus trip said on the social media when I posted about this:
Something that isn’t so well known and is related to the post about prayer, in 1982 the mission Open Doors called for 7 years of prayer for the Soviet Union. In those 7 years all the Soviet old guard members of the Politburo died. 1989 was the 7th year – the year the Wall fell!
Of course many had been praying for many years, but it was, I think, a Kairos moment. I was at a large YWAM prayer meeting in August-September 1989 and we prayed for the Iron Curtain to come down. It was only days later that everything began!
Amen. You never know just how effective prayer and spiritual warfare can be. As to the current scene in Victoria, it appears that what we were praying for has not yet happened. But Dan Andrews and all other would-be dictators are only around for a short time.
As I just read moments ago in 1 Corinthians 15:24-25: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.”
So one day Andrews will be no more. When the wall fell in 1989 the Soviet Bloc joined all the other past failed tyrannies. Lenin and Stalin and Khrushchev are gone. Mao and Pol Pot are gone. All human rulers and powers will one day bow the knee to the one true King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
For that reason we must keep praying. We may not see the results that we are seeking, or see them happening fast enough, but know that our prayers do have an impact. As we read in James 5:16-18:
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”
Keep praying saints and don’t let the circumstances around you get you down. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
A new book on prayer has just appeared in Australia. It is a collection of stories involving amazing answers to prayer. Check it out here: https://blog.canberradeclaration.org.au/2021/11/02/power-of-prayer-excerpt/
We just did an interview with one of the book’s editors, Warwick Marsh. In it we further discuss prayer and world events. Have a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd7mi0eSwtw