Prophecy and prayer go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other. Well you can; we often do, but they really do need to go hand in hand. Here’s what I mean…
Let’s say you go to a meeting and receive a prophetic word. The person prophesying reads the script of heaven about your life: You’re going to be a great man or woman of God, travel the world, and accomplish great feats. You leave the meeting high as a kite, but time goes on and nothing seems to happen. Maybe you were hoping to wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and suddenly, you were a great man or woman of God – but it didn’t happen. Was the prophet wrong? Maybe, but maybe not… If the prophetic word was true, why didn’t it come to pass?
Prophecy will often reveal the will of God. It is like stepping beyond the veil of heaven and gazing into His predetermined will – sort of like the sneak previews at the movies. They show some exciting scenes to stir your interest in the shows about to be released. Well, prophecy is like that. It gives us a sneak preview of what God has in store for our life. A peek, if you will, beyond the veil. Prophecy is exciting! It awakens our soul and stirs our faith. However, you can have prophecy after prophecy – and yet, nothing really happens. Prophecy itself does not always release the will of heaven. Sometimes, we have to do something with the prophetic word. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about in Scripture.
Daniel 9:1-3 “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”
Daniel gained insight into the will of God through a prophetic word given by Jeremiah seventy years prior. In 586 BC, Israel fell captive to the Babylonian Empire ruled by Nebuchadnezzar. It was devastating. Israel was deported from the Promised Land…a land given to them. Would they return? Many wondered if Israel would ever return to the land God had given them. However, Jeremiah had stepped beyond the veil of heaven and discovered the predetermined time of Israel’s release from captivity. He was allowed to see that Israel would be in bondage for seventy years and then return to the Promised Land. Daniel discovered that the clock had ticked and the seventy years of captivity were now complete. He could have thrown a party to celebrate the release of Israel, but he knew better. Daniel understood that prophecy alone would not accomplish the will of God.
Now, let me skip over to the book of Ezekiel for a minute…
In Ezekiel 22, God spoke through the prophet about the judgment that was about to be poured out on the land of Israel, due to the sins of the people. The prophets were conspiring to devour the people. The priests had violated the law and no longer distinguished between what was holy and unholy, clean and unclean. The princes were destroying the people to get dishonest gain. And the people of the land were guilty of oppression, robbery, mistreating the poor, the needy, and the strangers in the land. God was not happy. As the just judge of all the earth, God has to maintain justice. If He failed to judge Israel for their sins, justice would be perverted in heaven and on earth. And yet, God – in His mercy – did not want to pour out His wrath.
So, what does He do?
Look at Ezekiel 22:30- 31. “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.”
God needed somebody to pray! He needed someone to stand in the gap between Him and the land. Why? To intervene in prayer, so He wouldn’t need to pour out judgment on the land. God did not want to destroy the people or the land. If at all possible, He wanted to show mercy. As James 2:13 tells us, “Mercy triumphs over justice.” However, He was unable to do so without someone on earth standing in the gap to make up a hedge between Him and the land.
Knowing the will of God and seeing the will of God released on earth are two different things. Ezekiel said that one person could have changed the course of history. One person could have stepped into the courts of heaven and stopped the indictment against Israel. The sad commentary: none was found.
Going back to the account in Daniel, his prayer brought about the will of God and released Israel from captivity. Daniel’s prayer birthed the will of God on earth. Would Israel have been restored – if Daniel had not prayed, fasted, and stood in the gap for the nation? I don’t know. Maybe God would have found someone else, but maybe not. He was unable to find someone in the case of Ezekiel, and as a result, He had to pour out His judgment.
So, how does this apply to us today? These two examples show us how important prayer is in birthing the will of God on earth. Prophecy alone may or may not come to pass on its own. It certainly plays a vital role in discovering God’s will, but knowing His will is not enough. We have to pray His will into existence. Jesus told His disciples to pray in this manner: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10) Why would Jesus tell us to pray for God’s kingdom to come if it wasn’t important in bringing from heaven to earth? Is it possible that many prophetic words are never fulfilled, because we fail to birth them through prayer?
Most of us will do one of two things with a prophetic word: Either we put it on the shelf and wait to see what happens – or we go out and try to make it happen. In most cases, however, neither of these options usually works. What if we, like Daniel, need to birth the prophetic word through prayer? What if our prayers are the deciding factor in releasing God’s kingdom into our lives? Jesus told us in Matthew 18:18, that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. That’s a lot of power – and a lot of responsibility. Is it possible that our prayers are actually necessary to loose God’s will on earth? If we fail to use the authority He has given us, our destiny may go unfulfilled. Whether it is God’s will through the written Word or through a prophetic utterance – prayer empowers the Word to become flesh.