Prayer is not an attempt to manipulate God to our way of thinking. It is not trite, repetitious, ritualistic, or showy. Author and pastor Dr. Paul Chappell defines prayer this way: “Prayer is not a show nor a ritual. Prayer is you speaking directly to the Creator of the world about your deepest needs, desires, and burdens. It’s expressing your thankfulness for His goodness. It’s your privilege and honor as a believer.”
In the Old Testament, God uses one of the most captivating images in the Bible—a watchman. What does that have to do with prayer? How can we learn about prayer by studying the watchman? The prophet Ezekiel delivers a cautionary word of warning from Jehovah in chapter 3, verse 17: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” In chapter 33, Jehovah repeats His instructions to the prophet. The metaphor is drawn from the earliest days of agricultural societies when posts were erected overlooking crops to provide a tower for a watchman.
These towers were designed to offer a view of thieves—man or animal—who would ransack the ripening harvests. For many, the harvest was a matter of life and death…of having food for the coming winter or starving. The men who were appointed as watchmen were crucial to the survival of his village. The same was true of cities. During times of impending attacks, watchmen would scour the horizon for invaders and then sound the warning to alert inhabitants to approaching danger. The city gates would be closed and barred and defenders would take their positions on the battlements.
Just as a watchman warned the people of a coming enemy and was, therefore, the first line of defense, intercessory prayer warriors are the first line of spiritual defense for our nation and our communities.