A SECOND LOOK AT PRAYER
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:15-16
Everything is on the line. The time for critical action is now. Esther knows she must go to the king despite the danger to herself. She grasps the truth that if God intends to deliver His people through her intervention, the plan will be accomplished through prayer and fasting. However, Esther is also realistic about prayer. She knows it is not a magical act to deliver her from trouble. She recognizes that, even with prayer, she might perish. Her death would not negate the power of prayer. Prayer would would also equip her to rest in the sovereign will of God.
It is easy to use prayer as a means of delivering a wish list for personal comfort and safety. Whenever stresses press in upon me and those I love, I go to prayer and beg for deliverance. If a trial continues, I shouldn’t erroneously conclude that prayer doesn’t work. I might be tempted to think that either God isn’t all that powerful or His love is imperfect. I could wonder if perhaps this so-called perfect Father fails His children in critical times. Not true.
Prayer mobilizes God to act according to His sovereign plan for my life. Satan is always on the loose, driven to inflict death and destruction. Prayer cripples the best of his strategies and renders him impotent, just as it did when the death sentence of the Jews in Susa was lifted. However, I must not be childish in my expectations. I am told that I will also share in the sufferings of Jesus. Most of the prophets and Jesus’ disciples were murdered and I need only read the first chapter of the Fox’s Book of Martyrs to clear up unrealistic expectations. If you and I perish, as Esther believed she might, we need prayer to give us grace and peace. If you and I are to be delivered, we need prayer to bring about the miracle.
My prayer life is characterized by two requests. “Deliver me if that is in your plan, Lord. Or, give me grace in the fire.”
You are not my fairy god-father. No matter what I experience at Your hand, Your plan for me was conceived in love and wisdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.