Just ask Esther if prayer changes things. She came to the king in fear for her life but left with supernatural favor. She came with poverty but left with prosperity. She came in despair but left highly favored. She came representing a people who were marked for destruction and left the king’s presence with a way of escape for her Jewish people.
Daniel engaged in intercession and changed nations. For 21 days, the prophet had immersed himself in prayer. As he sought the face of God, an angel appeared to him. The angel had startling news for him and for those of us who have prayed earnestly and diligently. The “prince of Persia,” apparently one of Lucifer’s fallen angels, had hindered the answer to Daniel’s prayer.
Why is it important to know this? Persistence in prayer pays dividends! Had Daniel not continued to intercede until the battle in the heavenlies was won, his prayers would not have been answered.
King Hezekiah was faced, as Israel is today, with the threat of annihilation. The king of Assyria made the unfortunate mistake of thinking that Hezekiah trusted in horses, chariots, and his alliance with Egypt. Using the “town crier” method of communication, the commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army stood in the midst of the town square and taunted Hezekiah. He proclaimed that Yahweh himself had sent the Assyrians to defeat Judah.
When the king’s threats were delivered to Hezekiah in the form of a written dispatch, he did the one most important thing he could have done…he went to the Temple, spread the letter on the altar, and prostrated himself before God. Hezekiah prayed: “Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone” (II Kings 19:19, NJKV). God spoke the answer to Hezekiah’s prayer through the prophet Isaiah: “For I will defend this city, to save it For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake” (Isaiah 37:35, NKJV). The king could have heard no sweeter words than the promise that God would defend the City of David.
Nehemiah also knew the power of prayer and intercession. He had been exiled to Babylon and elevated to the position of cupbearer to the king. Nehemiah received a delegation of visitors from Jerusalem and was given devastating news of the poverty and destruction there. He “sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; and fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4, NKJV). His heart was broken with the plight of his countrymen and of his beloved city. God miraculously answered Nehemiah’s prayer. He moved the heart of the king and gave Nehemiah great favor. Nehemiah was allowed to return to his homeland and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
The New Testament is rife with instances of prayer petitions answered and people delivered: Peter from prison, John the Revelator from death on the Isle of Patmos, Paul from drowning at sea. Paul’s ringing declaration while being tossed to and fro on the ship resonates: “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve” (Acts 27:23, NKJV). It is never too late for God to come to the aid of His children, and prayer is the means by which we touch Him.