The wise men of Babylon were in a bind. You remember the Old Testament account (Daniel 2:1-49). King Nebuchadnezzar had dreams that left him worried to the point of sleeplessness. He summoned the sorcerers, the magicians, the enchanters, and the Chaldeans to both tell the king his dreams and interpret them. When the Chaldeans complained of such a command, the king became so angry that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. On that list was a young Jewish captive named Daniel.
How did Daniel respond to the king’s edict? He approached the king and requested time to interpret the dreams. Then he hurried home to let his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, know what had happened. He wanted them to seek mercy from the God of heaven so they wouldn’t be destroyed. Daniel’s one hope was in the God who gladly listens and responds to the cries of His children.
In the New Testament, we’re told of another wicked ruler, King Herod, and his evil intentions toward Simon Peter.
Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. So, Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God (Acts 12:1-5).
How did Peter’s fellow believers respond to his arrest? The Bible says they prayed fervently for him. Like Daniel, they realized their only hope was in the God of heaven.
After Peter was miraculously rescued, ...he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying (Acts 12:12).
In a letter to the church at Corinth, Paul told of the life-threatening trials he and others were facing.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him, we have set our hope that He will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).
Notice that Paul urged his brothers and sisters to help them in their desperate circumstances … by prayer.
It’s a simple, yet powerful truth. God hears and responds to the intercessory prayers of His people. Daniel knew it to be true. Those gathered in Mary’s house proved that they understood it. Paul believed it and wanted the Christians of Corinth to put that reality into practice on his behalf.
Think about it. As followers of Jesus Christ, you and I have the privilege to approach the throne of the great King of heaven … and He welcomes us.
And it doesn’t stop there. This divine royalty permits us – He even encourages us – to present the needs of others to Him. And when we do, something extraordinary happens. He responds. Insignificant weaklings like us ask, and the Almighty responds.
May God stir within us an even greater awareness of the weight and wonder of intercessory prayer.