Updated: Oct 2
Day 2 of this summer’s curriculum is titled “Longing Together”, and uses the story of Esther chapter 4 to illustrate the power of coming together before God in prayer.
This chapter opens with a great anguish, as we see the Jewish people mourning over the news of a planned genocide by King Xerxes. Feeling hopeless and overwhelmed with fear, their first response was prayer and fasting.
However, this prayer and fasting did not happen in isolation. Together as a community, they sought the Lord and prayed boldly for deliverance.
Esther at this time was not with her community, though. She was isolated in the palace in the presence of the King, her true heritage still a mystery to him. She not only feared for the lives of her people, but also for what repercussions this would cause for her from the king.
She is faced with a choice: do I live in isolated secrecy about my identity to save myself, or do I tell the king the truth in hopes that doing so will spare the lives of my friends and family, regardless of the repercussions?
More than ever, I think we can relate to the position of Esther in this story. She was unable to weep, mourn, fast or pray with her community because of her position. She was isolated from them. She was not alone physically, as there were many people who lived in the palace with her, but she was isolated from her Jewish community.
Regardless of this position, she still joins in prayer and fasting, and asks for her community within the palace to pray and fast with her. This is a reminder that no matter what circumstance we are in, we are never truly alone. We will always have people who will pray with us, encourage and support us.
God never puts us in a season by accident. Although Esther felt removed from the struggles of her people, it is only because of that position she was in that she had any power to do something about it. She was placed in the presence of the King for such a time as this. Think about this past year and where you were. How did God use you? Where did He place you in 2020 to be used for such a time as this? If you think about it, everyone had a totally different experience in isolation, but in almost every situation I have heard, God used each situation for a purpose. That’s how He works. All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. He has plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. He has placed you in this position for such a time as this. And remember that no matter where you are or where God has placed you, you are never truly alone. You have a global network of believers who can pray with you and encourage you, and God never leaves or forsakes you either.
As we are able to come back together and gather in community again, let us not forget that the power of Godly community transcends physical space. The power of prayer pierces through walls that divide us, crosses boundaries that separate us, and protects us from attacks from the enemy. When we choose to pray together as a community of believers, the hearts of kings are softened, disasters and tragedies are diverted, and we see peace that surpasses understanding come to fruition before our eyes. This is the power of prayer in community, and it is precisely this kind of prayer that saved the entire Jewish nation from the imminent disaster that was looming at their doorsteps. Let us not forget the power of communal prayer, and let it be our instinctual response to bring together brothers and sisters and cry out to Him when we need Him.