One of the clearest proofs that prayer to God is vital and the deciding factor is found in Exodus 17! The setting is not long after Israel was delivered from over 400 years of cruel and bitter slavery in Egypt. God powerfully delivered all of Israel out of their slavery and displayed himself as a miraculous God greater than the false gods of Egypt. After God tested them with no water, then bitter (undrinkable) water, as they wandered in the desert, to then drink miraculous water, Israel was attacked without provocation! Imagine that! (Such is typical in this life.) This was their first LIFE OR DEATH battle. That was serious stuff. They had NO military training at all for hundreds of years, but now they would have to kill or be killed. Read this carefully:
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. (Exo 17:8)
Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” (Exo 17:9)
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. (Exo 17:10)
The Deciding Factor
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. (Exo 17:11)
When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. (Exo 17:12)
So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. (Exo 17:13)
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exo 17:14)
Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. (Exo 17:15)
He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” (Exo 17:16)
- Upheld hands in prayer is NOT of Pentecostal origin! It came from the Jews and was also a way for Christians to pray in New Testament times (1 Tim. 2:8). [Calvinistic heretic, John MacArthur, unscripturally opposes upheld hands in prayer!]
- Joshua would have SURELY LOST if Moses’ hands (a type of prayer to God) were not extended! It was an invisible, NOT visible, battle which manifested in the physical on the battlefield with Joshua overcoming the Amelekites – a must win battle.
- Jesus was sinless (Heb. 4:15; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5), had the Holy Spirit without limit (Jn. 3:34) and heard the Father’s voice perfectly (Jn. 14:24; 17:8), yet he PRAYED OFTEN:
But Jesus OFTEN withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)
Indirectly, that shows how important prayer was even for the Lord Jesus! IF Jesus needed to pray often, we need to pray much more than often! We are in a spiritual and invisible battle. PRAYER is vital and foundational. Pray, pray and pray more – much more. Pray TO God, not Mary, the saints or angels. Pray like the Bible shows. The more heart-felt prayer the better and don’t give up praying (Lk. 18:1). We are also told to come boldly to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16).
- Prayer was made TO God, not a saint like Abraham, or anyone else! We are to pray only TO God, as instructed here or TO the Lord Jesus (Jn. 14:14; Acts 7:59). To pray to anyone other than God is a form of idolatry and forbidden. God is almighty. He is a very capable refuge, deliverer, fortress, etc. Pray to him as he wants you to. Pray for your own needs and the needs of others.
- When Moses’ hands grew tired at one point and came down (a type of giving up), Joshua started to lose. Don’t give up praying. The devil wants you to give up. God wants you to keep asking, seeking and knocking (Mt. 7:7).