The Power of Heaven-Piercing Prayers
June 18, 2015
Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.” — Numbers 16:15
The Torah portion for this week is Korach, which means “Korah,” from Numbers 16:1–18:32, and the Haftorah is from 1 Samuel 11:14–12:22.
Between the rebellion led by Korah and the stand-off between Korah and Aaron that Moses ordered the following day, we find a peculiar request. Moses asked God, “Do not accept their offering . . .”
Now, even if Korah was able to fool a few of Israel’s leaders and his many followers, surely he could not have fooled God, Who sees into the hearts of men. Undoubtedly, God knew that Moses and Aaron were humble and righteous, while Korah was jealous and arrogant. Korah’s followers were misguided at best or evil at worst. So why was Moses concerned that God might accept the offerings of these rebels over Aaron’s sacrifices?
The Jewish sages teach that when Moses asked God not to accept the rebel’s offerings, he was referring to their prayers. Moses asked God not to accept the prayers of these men. But again, why would Moses think that God would consider the prayers of such men in the first place?
We find a similar situation taking place during the time the Temple stood in Jerusalem. The High Priest would enter the innermost sanctuary on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and perform a most sacred service. After the service was over and he left the sanctuary, he would utter one more prayer. That prayer was that God not listen to prayers of the travelers.
Travelers would pray to God, asking that it not rain while they were on their journey. However, if God answered every traveler’s prayer, it would never rain and the crops would not grow. Therefore, the High Priest needed to intervene. But again, why would the High Priest be concerned that God would even consider answering these prayers at all?
The sages teach that from both scenarios we learn about the awesome power of sincere, heartfelt prayer – a power that perhaps we cannot even comprehend. Even though the prayers of the rebels and the travelers may have stemmed from a place of self-interest, the fact that they completely acknowledged God was in charge and the depth of their dependency on His intervention could send their prayers soaring into the heavens. Such was the power of those prayers, and that is why their prayers had to be stopped.
Friends, if heartfelt prayers stemming from self-serving intentions can pierce the heavens, imagine what our sincere prayers for the sake of heaven can accomplish. Judaism teaches that prayer is like a bow and arrow. The farther back an arrow is drawn, the farther it will travel. So, too, when our prayers come from the deepest depths of our hearts, they pierce the heavens and land before God’s holy throne.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Nehemiah was a man who saw a need, rose up (did not sit back and get depressed in the situation) and captured a vision. The Jerusalem walls had been knocked down, and the gates had been destroyed by fire. Yes, he cried and weeped for days because he did not know what to do. During those days he fasted and prayed. He cried out to God for help and God heard his prayer and laid a vision in his heart to gather the people to rebuild the wall.
No one is healed or raised from the dead in this book of Nehemiah, but the book shows that God simply answers prayers by proving someone with favour strength and wisdom. He provides all these things once you are willing to turn over your situation to him.
I urge you to read this book because I know that the walls in your life may be broken down now that have been broken down.
Some gates have even been burned down, your assurance of life may be gone, but you have to make the effort to build back your walls with God’s help because He is your Strength and Help in trouble.
Read the book of Nehemiah and let God help you rebuild your life.
Take a look at Chapter 1
1The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,
2That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
3And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
4And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
5And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
6Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.
7We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.
8Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:
9But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.
10Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.
11O LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.
There is no better time to renew our commitment to pray for our leaders than the start of a new presidential administration. Barack Obama needs our prayers and we should give them freely and eagerly no matter how we may have voted.