How to Pray

Amos is a little read book in the Old Testament but in chapter 7 verses 1-6 we get some great insight. We read this: “Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, He formed locust swarms at the beginning of the late crop; indeed it was the late crop after the king”s mowings.  And so it was, when they had finished eating the grass of the land, that I said: “O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, For he is small!”  So the LORD relented concerning this. “It shall not be,” said the LORD. Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, the Lord GOD called for conflict by fire, and it consumed the great deep and devoured the territory.  Then I said: O Lord GOD, cease, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, For he is small!” So the LORD relented concerning this. “This also shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.”

Given insight into what God would soon do, Amos was distressed over whether Israel could survive. God relented both times, probably as a result of Amos’ prayer. But because of His earlier pronouncements and the people’s lack of repentence, there is a sense that God would not postpone Israel’s punishment much longer.

The first vision of Amos 7 may be a natural calamity of locusts rising out of the earth and destroying the crops and the grasslands “after the king’s mowings,” a practice akin to our income tax. Without the late crop, the first cutting for the king would be sparse, and without produce for their personal needs, the people would starve. God decided that Israel would be protected from natural calamity in the main, but a few people may suffer very badly and may even die.

The second vision, a divine fire, could literally be fire on the earth.! “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”. Fire, in biblical symbolism, is a purging and purifying punishment against sin. To save and turn the people back to morality and obedience, God decrees a purifying fire to come upon Israel, probably in the form of a divinely inspired war. Again, God relents, giving the nation another chance to repent.

This exchange between Amos and God illustrates a wonderful method He uses to teach us what we need. God sometimes leads us into situations that force us to decide what we really need. We ask Him for it, and then He gives it to us. We think He answered our prayer—and He did—but He also led us to pray the prayer (see Romans chapter 8 and verse 26)! He guides these situations so that we come to think like Him! When He wants to produce character in us, He will work in whatever way is necessary to build it.

We can learn much from this technique. In our earnest prayers, we cry out to Him, believing we truly need what we have requested. We should also pray to understand how God is working, moulding, shaping, and leading us to grow and overcome. When we finally see things from His perspective and pray that prayer, He will respond. How we need this kind of thinking now!

Have a great week

Mark

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