Esther 4:16 NRSV
“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, nor or day. I am my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”
Esther exhibits great wisdom for a young woman in this verse. She knows that what she is about to do can and will risk her life. She understands that the only one who can save her and keep her safe is the One to whom they pray. She doesn’t want any popcorn prayers. You know what I mean, the two second prayers we say for someone when they ask us to pray. No, she wants the people to fast and pray and to do that for three days. She wants them to pray for her safety while she delivers the message. She wants serious and dedicated prayers.
There are different kinds of prayers and all of us know that. There are times when we just give God a quick popcorn prayer. At other times we sit with God and we give Him much more time. Then there are times like this when we need protection and assurance that where we go, God will go with us. We want to make sure we are going where God is sending us. We want to make sure it is God we are obeying and following. Those prayers require much more time and if you give prayer that much time, you just normally fast. You don’t think about food or playing on the Internet. You just pour your heart out to God and beg Him to hear you.
Our intention is to have God answer the prayer the way we want it answered. We will see next week how Esther’s prayer is answered. Today we are just going to see how fasting and prayer doesn’t always go the way we expect it.
2 Samuel 12:15-18a
The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died.
David is known as the man after God’s own heart and when him and Bathsheba commit adultery they conceive a child, it is this child who dies. David lay prostrate before God and fasted and prayed, begging God to keep the child alive. Certainly, this did not end the way David wanted.
There is a reason I am showing these two examples today. There is no way, not one way you or I can see from this side of heaven the plan of God. He invites all of us to come before Him in prayer and ask for what we want in the Name of Jesus. That is all He requires, the answer to the prayer is His. As David says in verse 22, who knows if the Lord will be gracious; and that is the truth. Since we don’t know how the prayer will be answered than that part of the prayer is not what we should concern ourselves with. We are called to pray and/or fast and pray when needed. We are not called to answer God’s prayers for Him. Therefore, if the prayer does not come out as you wanted, it is not what you have done, but God’s will.
Esther is going to go before the king. She calls for the people to fast and pray for her. She did not ask for a sign from God to show that she will be safe. She just placed that concern in the hands of God. What are you praying for? I prayed for a year for Gary to be healed. I fasted and prayed for a year and Gary is not healed. Does this mean God is unable to heal Gary? No, it means that healing Gary is not in God’s plan.
Prayers to God are always heard, but He doesn’t always answer in the way we prayed. Pray anyways.