Esther 4:15-16; Luke 2:36-38; Acts 16:13-14
As I have grown older, prayer has become more important to me. When I was younger, I was not as aware of the needs around me and in the world. I was more concerned with my own needs. I had not experienced the power of prayer as I have now. Now, I have lived long enough to see answers to my prayers, and my faith is stronger.
When I look in scripture, I find women were fervent prayer warriors. Many, to be sure, only prayed for their own needs, but some journeyed past spiritual selfishness to pray for the needs of others. Three of my favorites are Esther, Anna and Lydia. As I look past the culture and look for the principles of prayer they exemplified, I am encouraged to pray even more.
Esther is a favored woman in scripture for many reasons. She was not one to complain about her great difficulties, but instead focused on making the best of her situation. At one point she had a great dilemma – her people were about to be annihilated, and only she had the power of influence to save them. She knew this task was too big for her alone, so she enlisted her people to pray and fast to unleash God’s power. The king, her husband, was an irresponsible king who was known for having festive parties and nothing else. Esther had to help him see he was about to allow a terrible thing to happen in his country. Through the prayers of the people and Esther’s gracious boldness, God moved in the king’s heart. The people were saved.
What do I gain from Esther’s story? I remember that I need to pray for my leaders. In spite of whether I like them or not, God can work in their lives. He even works in the lives of ungodly men. My prayer needs to be not only for the leader, but also for those who have influence in their lives, like Esther. I may not know all the names, but I can still pray. God can work, no matter who appears to be in charge, when His people pray. “The king’s heart is a water channel in the hand of the Lord; He directs it wherever He chooses” (Proverbs 21:1, HCSB).
Anna is another favorite of mine. The Bible says she was a long-time widow who was constantly in the temple praying and fasting. She was one of the first people to see baby Jesus in the temple. Thankfully, I can follow Anna’s example without living at the church! I learn from the Bible that we should pray everywhere, not just at church. “Pray constantly” (HCSB). First Thessalonians 5:17 is a familiar verse, but do we really practice this principle? God has been convicting me to be in an attitude of prayer everywhere I go. I see so many people in my everyday life. Many are not Christians, many do not know a Christian, and quite possibly have no one to pray for them. Now as I check out at the grocery store, I pray for the cashier. As I see a little boy riding down the street, I pray for him and his family. I may never see the answers to these prayers, but why should that matter? The point is to pray and pray constantly and let God do His work.
Finally, we come to Lydia. She was a wealthy business woman, but that was not the sum-total of her person. She was also a prayer warrior, a gracious hostess and supporter of Kingdom work. She had gathered together with a group of women and became one of the first in her community to hear the Good News of Jesus. Because she was committed to prayer, she heard about Jesus even before the men in her community. She reminds me that I need to pray with other women. I feel supported from praying with other women. Even two or three can gain encouragement from each other. Praying together is both powerful and meaningful.
Thanks to Esther, Anna and Lydia, I am encouraged to keep on praying. I must pray for my leaders, pray constantly, and pray with other women. I do not want to get to Heaven and find out something good could have happened, if only I had prayed.