“Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings. And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD. Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part. Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD” (Am. 7:1-6).
In Amos 7 we see the power of intercessory prayer.
God’s people need to learn from Amos and pray fervently and persistently in the most desperate, wicked times. Prayer changes things!
When Amos saw the first two visions of coming judgments (a locust invasion and a great fire), he beseeched God to withhold judgment, and the Lord repented (Am. 7:3, 6).
Amos’s prayer issued from a heart of concern. Amos could have said nothing, but he was moved with compassion for Israel; he was concerned about the matter. He could have thought, “It’s not my business if God wants to do that.” He could have thought, “I need to get back to my farming.” But he was deeply concerned, and he took the time to pray. We will not pray effectually until we care about the thing we are praying for. We must genuine care about our own spiritual lives, our families, our churches, our nations, our unsaved neighbors, and when we care, we are moved to intercessory prayer and God answers such prayers.
Amos’s prayer was intercessory. He prayed for others. This is the opposite of praying only for “me and mine.” Christ taught that even the heathen love their own, but Godlikeness is caring for others, even for your enemies (Mt. 5:44-48).
Amos’s prayer was fervent. Observe the passion. “O Lord God ... I beseech thee...” He beseeched God. This is effectual fervent praying (Jas. 5:16).
Amos’s prayed by reasoning with God. Prayer is reasoning with God on the basis of His character and His promises. Amos called Israel “Jacob” to remind God of His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Amos reminded God that Israel was small and helpless in the midst of her enemies. Amos reminded God that He was Israel’s only help. What wonderful reasoning with God!
Amos’s prayer was based on his right thinking and outlook. Unlike the average Israelite in that day, Amos knew that Israel was small and helpless without God’s protection and intervention. He knew that except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain (Ps. 127:1). He knew that Israel’s wealth and military strength could not protect her if God was against her. This wisdom comes only by God’s Word.
Amos’s prayed for mercy. Amos was not asking for justice but for mercy. He didn’t say, “Lord, Israel is good.” Amos knew all about Israel’s “mighty sins” (Am. 5:12).
Amos’s prayer was based on his knowledge of God. Amos was asking God for mercy, because he knew that God is merciful. The better we know God, the more we know His character through the study of Scripture, the more effectual our prayers can be.
Amos’s prayer was persistent. He didn’t stop praying after the first answer.
As a result, God was moved by Amos’s plea and withheld His hand. God did eventually judge Israel, but He withheld those particular judgments at that time in answer to prayer.
Amos’s prayer reminds us of Abraham’s intercessory prayer for Sodom (Ge. 18:23-32) and Moses’ intercessory prayer for Israel (Ex. 32:7-14).
This prayer situation is an example of how that prayer can bring some respite, some divine help, even when a nation is heading toward ultimate judgment. It is a perfect prayer for America today. If God’s people will pray effectually for the nation, there probably will not be a great awakening, but God can help us. He delights in mercy. He can withhold judgment; He can restrain wickedness in high places; He can confound the forces of evil.
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