Prayer: Examples O.T. — Moses
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Our first prayer example will be from Moses as was leading Israel out of Egypt. They failed to have faith on entering the Promised Land, so God’s punishment was for them to wander in the desert for forty years. The Israelites disobeyed God and he leading them through Moses. Many were unhappy and wanted to return to Egypt.
As the story goes (Numbers 21:4-9) Moses at God’s direction took a long route across the desert around Edom. The Israelites moaned and complained against Moses and God. Because of their rebellious attitude, God punished them by sending fiery serpents among the people. Those who were bitten died. They came to Moses and asked him to pray. They said: “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.”
God answered Moses and he “made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” Moses’ prayer for the people was answered.
There are two concepts that we see in this story: 1) pray for God to forgive sin, 2) the serpent of brass on the pole was a fore shadowing of Jesus, the coming messiah. When you pray, ask for something in line with God’s Will and he will give you an answer. Consider also that in the answer, God may give you more than what you see on the surface.
Prayer: Examples O.T. — Hannah
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Our next prayer example is that of Hannah. In 1 Samuel 2:1, we see her prayer of thanksgiving. “And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoices in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.” This prayer of thanksgiving is her second prayer, because God had answered her first prayer of supplication.
Hannah had prayed that God would give her a man child for she was barren. (See 1 Samuel 1:9-28) As she went with her husband to Shiloh to worship, she was very sorrowful in her spirit and prayed for a child. Eli the priest saw her and she explained to him her grief about being childless. Eli told her to go and God would answer her prayer. Within the year, she was with child and gave birth to a son, Samuel. In her prayer, she had vowed that if she had a son, that she would “lend” him to the Lord for as long as he lived. Thus her prayer of thanksgiving was a result of God answering her first prayer of supplication and petition. In her second prayer of thanksgiving, she is a very happy and thankful woman for what God had done.
Hannah’s prayers give us two examples of how we should pray: 1) in supplication, asking God for something, and 2) thanksgiving for the answer he gives to a prayer. Both of these examples are good to remember about how to ask and respond to answers God gives us. If we give some thought to it, we can find many things to give thanks to God for how he has supplied our needs.
Prayer: Examples O.T. — David
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Praise, bewilderment, and reaffirmation (Read 2 Samuel 7:16-29)
David’s prayer in this O.T. story gives us several things to ponder and use where appropriate. In 2 Samuel 7 we see that the prophet Nathan is relating to King David a vision the Lord has given him. This vision is powerful, full of promise, and yet bewildering to David. Nathan has just told him that “his throne shall be established forever.” (vs 16) David is awestruck and bewildered. Yet he knows that God can do things that seem impossible. In verses 18 through 29, David is setting in the House of the Lord and talking with God. He knows that what seems big to him is but a small thing to God, “For thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee,” (vs 21, 22) But David also knows that what God says, he will do, “O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it forever, and do as thou hast said.” (vs 25) And again in verse 29, David reaffirms what the Lord God has spoken, for he knows that God will make it happen.
When we pray, as with David’s prayer, we can repeat back to God the promises he has made knowing that God cannot lie and his words must become true. As David did, we too must praise God for his magnificent greatness and thank him for his promises. When God gives us a promise, especially those in His Word, we can depend on them becoming reality. Until God moves to make his promises real, we must move in faith and look forward to when they become fact, and praise him when they do.
Prayer: Examples O.T. — Solomon
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(Read 1 Kings 8:1-32, 52-53 –Temple Dedication)
In this example, we see Solomon the King, leading the people of Israel in corporate prayer as he dedicates the newly built temple. His prayer starts in verse 23. He addresses the people, kneels and lifts his hands and face to the heavens and prays.
He starts his prayer with praise to God and adoration for all that God has done for the people of Israel. He then confesses the sins of the people and asks God for forgiveness, and promises that as a nation they would serve him all their days. Solomon then dedicates the newly built temple (the house his people have built for God) to house the presence of the Lord and the Ark of the Covenant.
The King then goes on to celebrate the filling of the temple with the cloud of God’s presence that has now filled the temple. God has accepted the temple and the cloud is evidence of God’s approval. Solomon then goes on to petition the Lord God to watch over the people of Israel and promises that the people will obey and serve Him. After King Solomon finishes this prayer, then Israel celebrates with feasting for seven days. The Lord God now has a dwelling place among men. This is a physical picture of the future event of the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would come to dwell in man.
Prayer: Examples O.T. — Isaiah
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In 2 Chronicles, chapter 32, we see the king of Israel (Hezekiah) and the prophet Isaiah pray for God to remove the threat of another nation attacking Israel. In verse 20, the King and the prophet Isaiah lift up a prayer to God “And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.”
The nation of Assyria has been flooding the people of Israel with a vocal propaganda campaign that the God of Israel is helpless against his warfare. Assyria has already defeated most of the nation and is now attacking the city of Jerusalem. The people of Israel are terrified that they are going to be captured and subjected to terrible punishment by this foreign king. King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet go to the temple and pray for deliverance.
God answers their prayer. We see what he does in verse 21 “21 And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valor, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land.” Because the king and Isaiah prayed, God acted in a might way and saved the nation of Israel. This shows us that when we are in desperate circumstances, we can pray and God will answer with positive action.
Prayer: Examples O.T. — Daniel
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How do we pray when we are put into an impossible situation? Yes, God can handle even the impossible. How? Let’s pull aside the curtain of time and look at Daniel and his three friends who are Chaldean captives.
King Nebuchadnezzar has had a dream. It has left him greatly disturbed and more so because he can’t remember the dream! He calls in all of the wise men, magicians, and astrologers in his kingdom to tell him what he dreamed and its interpretation. Their response is “impossible!” The king then says “you will all die.” (See Daniel 2:12) As the king’s captain comes to take Daniel to fill the king’s decree, Daniel says “why so hasty? Let me speak to the king.”
“Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.” (Daniel 2: 16) The king grants Daniels’ wish. “Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. [they prayed] Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God forever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:” (Daniel 2:17-20)
Now for the rest of the story: God gives Daniel the dream and the interpretation of what the dream means and he relates this to King Nebuchadnezzar. He tells the king that the dream relates to his kingdom, but also to kingdoms and nations of the future. Then the king rewards Daniel and his three friends. Two important things to remember about Daniel’s prayer and the answer that God gives him: 1) Daniel gave God all the credit; 2) He also gave a witness to the king about God’s wisdom, power, and understanding. King Nebuchadnezzar became very dependent upon Daniel’s wisdom and advice. Remember, when things seem impossible, God has an answer.
Prayer: Examples O.T. — Elisha
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Do you ever feel like your faith is slipping and growing weak? At those times, remind yourself to read about Elisha and his servant boy. This story should revive your faith and make it stronger.
Elisha was a prophet in the time of the kings of Judah and Israel. The king of Syria was perplexed because his attempts to attack Israel were always failures. He asked his servants why and they told him that Elisha the Prophet would go to the king of Israel and tell him Syria’s plans. Syria’s king devised a plan to capture Elisha and imprison him. This time his plan backfired on him. He sent an army to Dothan, where Elisha was living. The following story is how the king’s plan failed.
His army surrounded the city. “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15-18) Elisha then led them into Samaria and turned his prisoners over to the king. The king fed them and sent them home to Syria and they never invaded Israel again.
When your faith seems to grow weak, remember that the spiritual forces of God are far stronger than any physical force. We just need to move in faith and pray for God to act. It may require that we “see” with eyes of faith.