God is full of surprises. Once in a while He does something so unpredictable that it goes against all of our expectations. For example, have you ever prayed one simple prayer and God surprised you by answering it immediately? No persistence, pleading or fasting. No getting on your knees or adding your request to the church prayer chain. Just a simple answer, right away!
We all wish we could have more of those instant answers from just one simple request. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually happen that way. Almost always, we have to do the hard work of prayer which includes spending much time and effort developing our intimate prayer life with God. We must press on and be diligent in prayer, sometimes for years until we see an answer.
But God surprised me the other day while I was reading the book of Amos. The judgments and prophecies against Judah, Israel and other areas were extremely discouraging. One verse even said that fallen Israel would “never rise again”. I said to myself, where is the hope? Usually after the “punishment” section of Bible passages come verses that bring hope. That didn’t seem to be happening this time. I was about to flip the pages to another, more uplifting book of the Bible, but decided to stick it out and read Amos through to the end.
Chapter 7: 1-6. God gave the prophet Amos two visions of severe judgment against the Israelites. After each vision Amos prayed, “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small [frail]!” Surprisingly, verses 3 and 6 tell us:
So the Lord relented.
“This will not happen,” the Lord said.
What? I was shocked and relieved. All it took was Amos’ one sentence prayer of intercession and God basically answered, “OK, I’ve heard you, and I will not do what I have shown you in this vision!”
I would like to offer several possible conclusions as to why God would “change His mind” and grant Amos his petition.
- Amos’ prayer wasn’t a simple prayer after all, it was an attitude of his heart, poured out into the words of a prayer.
- Our omniscient God wanted to grant mercy to Israel but He desired to work through the intercessory prayer of Amos, knowing full well that He would forgive. In other words, Amos’ prayer was the means that God ordained and would use to extend His mercy to the Israelites.
- No man can thwart God’s will or direct His plan. God didn’t actually change His mind, but waited until Amos expressed faith and repentance on behalf of His people.
I wonder if God raised up Amos not only to prophesy but also to intercede powerfully in prayer for God’s people?
Is it possible that God is calling you and me to pray and intercede for others or even for our nation?
One prayer, one plea, a cry from our heart, can change everything!
“I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God. Amos 9:15
P.S. This prophecy, found in the last verse of the book of Amos, was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel became a nation again and welcomed its people back to their homeland.