Thursday, July 22, 2010

Week 4, Day 4 - When Others Pray

Esther 4:1-17

All of us know someone that is a “prayer warrior” and if we truly need prayer that is the person we turn to. There are some people in my life that I go to when I need prayer. These are people that will not just say that they will pray for me, but they will pray for me. When I am faced with a circumstance that seems bigger than me and I need strength and courage I turn to those friends and ask them to pray for me. Usually, those friends will pray for me at that moment and then they will continue to pray for me as long as I need it. The moment in history I want to look at today is about a group of people who were not known for being “prayer warriors,” but they did pray earnestly for an urgent need. Please turn to Esther 4:1-17.

Esther was the Queen of Persia and was also a Diaspora Jew, meaning that after Cyrus had allowed the Jews to return to Israel, her family chose to stay in the empire. At this point the king had no idea that Esther was a Jew, and what I understand about the Jewish laws is that a devout Jew would appear different than the rest of the culture. So, either the king was unobservant (which when reading the story of Esther is highly possible) or Esther and other Diaspora Jews did not observe all their religious laws. Personally, I think that it is probably a mix of both and several scholars believe that the Diaspora Jews did blend in with the Persian culture. This section of scripture is about an enemy of the Jews (Haman) and how he set in motion a plan and law to have the Jews annihilated. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, asked Esther to plead with the king to save the Jews. When Esther realized that she needed risk her life and to go to the king, she asked Mordecai to have the Jews fast and pray. Please look at verse 16, “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.”

I find this very interesting because most likely the Diaspora Jews were blending in with the culture and so they probably were not known for corporate fasting. However, the situation was desperate and Esther was not going to go to the king without having a lot of people praying for her; she knew that only God would be able to deliver them from complete annihilation. Just as I turn to people that I know will pray for me, Esther knew that the Jews would fast and pray because their lives depended on it. Unfortunately, the time I have for this post will not allow me to explore the entire book of Esther which is a wonderful and rich story of how God worked through events to deliver the Jews, but I want to point out that I believe God directed Esther’s actions because she had people praying on her behalf.

Part of our fellowship with other believers is that we can pray for each other. God did not make us to be an island, He wants us to interact with others and lift each other up. Please look up Colossians 4:2-4; this is one of many examples of Paul asking the church to pray for him and others sharing the message of Christ. We also need to be willing to pray for others when they ask for pray and not just say that we will pray.

Are you turning to others to pray for you when you are in need of prayer? Are you willing to lift others up in prayer when they ask?

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