For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Overcoming the Obstacles of Prayer (2)
Another obstacle that occurs in prayer is the circumstances. Circumstances are often so hostile to prayer that they discourage the heart of the believer. At such a time, it seems that God will not be able to rearrange them to cooperate with his will. However, when we look at Scripture, we see God scoffing at adverse circumstances and ordering them according to his purpose.
God's people are slaves in Egypt. The greatness of the empire is sustained by the labor of Jewish slaves. God sends a message to Pharaoh telling him to let his people go worship in the desert. But Pharaoh absolutely refuses, time and time again. However, although Pharaoh was powerful, God is Almighty. God ordered the circumstances, caused events to unfold one after another, with the irrepressible force of divine acts, until the resistance was broken, and everything was ordered for the fulfillment of his designs.
Israel is a slave in Babylon. How can God fulfill his design to bring his people out of Babylon if the most powerful kingdom has them captive, and Israel itself does not even want to return to their land? God arouses the prayer of a man like Daniel. By this prayer, God awakens Cyrus, the king, and the Jewish leaders to go to Jerusalem. His design is again fulfilled because God himself has ordered the circumstances for that purpose.
However, this is not the case only in history. It is also so in the small things, even in domestic circumstances. In Matthew chapters 1 and 2, God orders the circumstances in a very simple way, through five dreams, to save Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus. In Acts, Herod throws Peter in jail under threat of death. Peter was bound in chains and guarded by four groups of soldiers. However, he was released. God moved his angels, and the guards were outwitted. What happened? God acted in response to the prayer of the church (Acts 12: 5), without asking permission from Herod or the prison bailiff.
Paul does God's work as an apostle. Led by the Holy Spirit, he arrives in Philippi. There he begins his work. Pablo goes near the river, where some sisters used to pray and talks to the women who had gathered. There is Lidia, the seller of purple; she believes, and hosts them. Thus arises the church in Philippi. Were these encounters by chance? How did Paul get to Philippi? God had shown him through a vision, and had ordered the circumstances there for Paul to do the work. The hearts of those who were to believe were prepared for faith.
Thus, we see that circumstances are not an obstacle to God, and that, by prayer, they can be ordered to collaborate with His will.