By: Dan Betzer
Text: “His servant said, Alas … And [Elisha answered, Fear not … And [he] prayed. . .” (2 Kings 6:15,16,17).
The situation was impossible. Elisha’s hired hand knew that immediately. There it was, right in front of his eyes. The house was surrounded by Syrian soldiers with their king’s orders, “Get Elisha!”
Elisha’s response to all this must have surprised his employee. The prophet did not burst into emotional reaction. He didn’t yell or curse or scream for help. Instead, he said to his servant, “Don’t be afraid.” And then … he prayed.
There is something so strong about that line-he prayed! He didn’t sweat; he prayed. He didn’t do anything you might expect a fellow in his position to do. He prayed! Paul wrote to Titus that Christians are peculiar in that they respond differently than non-Christians to life’s circumstances. There is an inner confidence, a reservoir of faith, a belief that it’s going to be alright. You don’t read of Moses getting panicky with the Red Sea in front of him and Ramses’ Egyptian armies behind him. We don’t read in Scripture of David chanting a mantra as Goliath charged him, sword in hand. We don’t read of Daniel having a nervous breakdown as he was escorted into the lions’ den. Even when he knew the headsman would be in his cell shortly, axe in hand, Paul exuded confidence and goodwill. None of these responses is normal. No, there’s just something uniquely different about a person whose confidence is truly in God. What is the difference? They pray!
Elisha prayed. Why? The king of Damascus, a man named Benhadad, was furious about God’s prophet. Here’s the reason: The Syrians hated the Jews. See, nothing changes much over the centuries, does it? The Syrians wanted Israel destroyed. Surprise, surprise! So Ben-hadad would come up with these positively ingenious ambushes, designed to destroy Israel’s army. But each time he did, God would tell Elisha all about it, and Elisha would tell the king of Israel. So the Jewish army would bypass the ambush area and just devastate the Syrians.
Now if you were Syrian King Ben-hadad, what would be your conclusion? Of course! Somebody in his cabinet was leaking information to the enemy! So Ben-hadad called a conference and let his staff have it: “Which one of you is for the king of Israel?” (2 Kings 6:1 1). The response was sobering: “None, my lord, 0 king: but Elisha, the prophet
that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber” (verse 12).
So that was it! A clairvoyant in Israel was making some lucky guesses! Well, that could be changed quickly. “Go get him,” snarled Ben-hadad. “Bring him to me!” Poor Ben-hadad hadn’t figured it out yet; the God who could reveal innermost secrets and thoughts to Elisha could also deliver him from the Syrian army!
Now the hostile soldiers had Elisha’s house surrounded. And Elisha prayed!
“Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (verse 17). God sent a platoon of His finest militia to protect His prophet and people. It was a miraculous deliverance in Israel!
Elisha’s prayer was one of confidence, even in the crisis. He had no question whatsoever that God’s power and Syria’s might were not comparable. His conviction was steadfast because he saw things the average man could not see. His servant, for example, beheld only the Damascus contingency before him. Elisha saw God’s army. HIS PRAYER WAS BASED ON HIS VISION.
The Bible says that the effectual and fervent prayer of righteous people avails much. Who are the righteous? Those in whom the Spirit of God dwells! What makes their prayers effectual? They are fervent prayers of faith. What causes faith? Having spiritual vision that allows the intercessor to see with spiritual eyesight what cannot be seen through the natural. Let’s talk about this kind of vision for a moment. Elisha asked God to open the spiritual eyes of his servant so he could see what was truly happening. Elisha could pray like this for several reasons:
First, he really knew God. His knowledge was not limited to knowing “about” God; he KNEW God. I know ABOUT President Bill Clinton, but I don’t KNOW President Clinton. There is a huge difference in those two positions! Elisha KNEW God. The more you KNOW about God, the more fervently you will be able to pray. Those who don’t know God well, pray in the shadow of their circumstances; those who DO know God, pray in the light of His glory. Had Elisha not known God intimately, the sight of the Syrian forces would have overwhelmed him as it did his servant. However, because Elisha dwelt in the continuing presence of God because he knew God in His might and power, the prospect of the Syrians meant little to him. What were those poor soldiers, draped in their metal outfits, drawn by their spooked horses in comparison to Almighty God who spoke the stars into place? Elisha was not praying from
a position of fear and desperation, even though surrounded by soldiers who meant him harm. He was praying from a position of power and authority. How could he do that? He could do it because he knew God. THERE is the primary principle of powerful praying-knowing God!
Second, Elisha knew very intimately the basic principles of serving God. Further, it was his passion in life to serve his God. When Elisha’s mentor Elijah realized he would be taken into heaven, he suggested that Elisha leave him for the day. Elisha refused. In fact, Elisha said, “When you go, Master Elijah, I would like a DOUBLE PORTION of the anointing you have on your life.” Can you even imagine that kind of nerve-asking DOUBLE the anointing of Elijah? Oh, he didn’t ask the power for himself. We have no case on record of Elisha’s using God’s power for his own ends. In fact, when Captain Naaman of Syria was healed of leprosy, he wanted to give Elisha money, clothes, and reward.
Elisha adamantly refused it all. The power of God was not for his own personal benefit. It was to serve the Lord!
Elisha didn’t have to worry about his prayers being in conflict with God’s will. Confronting those Syrian soldiers in Dothan that day, Elisha didn’t have to stop before he prayed and figure it out, “Well, let’s see here, Lord-is what I’m about to pray for MY benefit or for YOURST’ No, Elisha’s prayers were always for God’s benefit. Like Jesus, much later, Elisha could pray, “Not my will, thine be done!” And since God is ALWAYS going to build His kingdom, Elisha could pray his prayer in genuine faith.
If I am even thinking about praying, “Lord, please send me a sports car,” I’m going to have to pray that request rather tentatively. Why? Because I’m not all that sure God wants me to have it. As a matter of fact, I don’t think God cares if I walk or ride a bicycle. So I’ve got some real trouble with that prayer at the onset. But if my prayer is,
“Lord, strengthen the church in the city where I live to reach the lost!”-then I can utter that intercession with fervency and faith. I KNOW that’s God’s will because He is not willing that any should perish!
Elisha knew it was God’s will that his servant behold the glory of the Lord. So he prayed, “Lord, open his eyes!” The Bible records that “…the Lord OPENED the eyes of the young man; and he saw … ” (verse 17).
Let me recap briefly: Elisha’s prayer was powerful because (1) he knew God, and (2) he knew God’s will. It was also powerful because (3) Elisha was willing to act upon it. Hebrews tells us that faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). James reminds us that faith without works is dead. A person’s
prayer should be strong enough that he or she is willing to act upon it-to live as though it were answered. In Elisha’s case, he was so positive that God would respond to his prayer that he actually led the Syrians into the capital of Israel. That brave act set up a scenario that brought peace into the land. Elisha prayed AND ACTED UPON THAT
PRAYER. He believed it was answered. Why? Because he knew God and he knew THE WILL of God. His prayer was in keeping with both of those realizations.
I remember my last church pioneering project in Ohio-about 20 years ago. After nearly 12 months, we had a thriving small congregation, meeting in a hotel ballroom. How urgently we needed a building! But we had no funds and no prospects of receiving any.
One Monday morning I was awaiting my turn in a downtown bank building. All the tellers were very busy. I loved that bank because the building was magnificent. Solid Grecian marble. Gold renaissance ceiling. Massive bronze lighting fixtures. It was like being in a cathedral in Europe. It was built to the exact specifications inside as Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. As I looked around in wonder, it reminded me that our church needed a structure somewhere, somehow. And I breathed another of my prayers to God, “O Lord, we need a church building. Open the doors for us!” And in the next moment, the Lord spoke to my mind so clearly, “I will do it! In fact, THIS will be your building! I will provide it!”
I don’t mind telling you I began to cry. I was so deeply convinced in my spirit that God meant to do exactly what He said He would do. And I made my plans for our church’s future on what the Lord had whispered to me in that bank building that morning, all this despite the fact the bank was on the county tax duplicate for a valuation of over 6 million dollars!
Within 3 months, the building was deeded to our church! We began meeting in that palatial marble hall. Within a year, the building had been completely renovated-not only the elegant sanctuary area, but all four floors were done as well. It was one of the great miracles I have personally witnessed. But let me tell you, when I prayed, and God
responded, I began acting as if the work were already done. Faith without works is dead.
You can pray and pray and pray. You can hear God witness to your heart, “I will do it.” Now the ball is in your court. Now something is expected of you. Elisha went to the Syrians and personally led them into the Israeli capital. He didn’t cower behind his doorway, whimpering, “What now, Lord?” At some point in the transaction, there was a part for him to play.
In a few moments, close to a hundred thousand people are going to begin praying for those prayer requests sent to our office. Think of it-there will be many, many of these intercessors praying for you specifically. We have sent them copies of your specific request. They are going to call out your name. They are going to call out your declared need to God. They are going to pray in faith, just as Elisha did. In the next 10 or 15 minutes, the people in this sanctuary are
going to begin praying for you as well! There is a volume of prayer going to the Throne of God on your behalf-not quiet, wimpy, scared little prayers, but prayers of faith!
Now there is not a question in my mind that God is going to heal the sick, save the lost, provide finances for the hurting, and begin the work you have longed for! But here comes the serve: What are you going to do about it? Are you going to act from this moment on in a way that honors God, or will you cower in a corner, waiting for something
terrible to happen? Elisha prayed, and the Syrian army was in trouble. We are praying now, and Satan’s kingdom is in trouble as it relates to your life.
I encourage you this moment to lift up your hands and begin to thank God for your deliverance. Act in FAITH, not in fear. Elisha prayed! And God responded. Today we are praying to the very same God. And He will respond once again! Hallelujah!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBSLISHED IN A TRANSCRIPTION OF A RADIO SERMON ON FEBRUARY 16, 1994, BY DAN BETZER. THIS MATERIAL MAY BE USED FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.