For Such A Time As This

Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish. Esther 4:16

At the height of the glory of the Persian Empire, among the Jewish families who did not return to Jerusalem after being taken into captivity by the Babylonians was a man named Mordecai and his orphan cousin, Esther. The story of her rise from total obscurity to become the queen of the world’s most powerful monarch of that time, King Xerxes, illustrates how God uses events and people as instruments to fulfill His plans in the world.

Xerxes elevated his most trusted advisor Haman, who ordered everyone to kneel before him whenever in his company. When Mordecai repeatedly refused to kneel, the enraged and egotistical Haman discovered that Mordecai was Jewish. In a villainous moment, perhaps rivaled in history only by the Holocaust, Haman convinced Xerxes to sign a law to have all the Jews exterminated and to seize their property.

Hearing of the new law, Mordecai pleaded with Esther, urging her to go to the king and beg for mercy and plead for her people. “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). After calling upon the Jews in the capital city to fast and pray, Esther risked her own life, exposed Haman’s plot and true character, and saved the entire nation. Even today, Jews celebrate their deliverance through the Feast of Purim.

Similarly, as American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, President Franklin Roosevelt called for our nation to unite in prayer. He also offered a prayer to prepare each citizen for the road ahead. “Let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be. And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee.” The victory that followed on June 6, 1944, also known as D-day, began the march to Berlin. Eighteen months later, WWII was over, and one of the world’s greatest evils had been defeated. The prayers of a nation had been a powerful force.

Prayer has always been used in this country for guidance, protection, and strength, even before we were a nation or a handful of colonies. The Pilgrims at Plymouth relied on prayer during their first and darkest winter. Our Founding Fathers also called for prayer during the Constitutional Congress. In their eyes, our recently created nation and freedoms were a direct gift from God. And being a gift from God, there was only one way to ensure protection – through prayer.

President Abraham Lincoln knew this well. It was his belief that, “It is the duty of nations as well as men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God.” When it came to the fate of the nation, he practiced what he preached. Before the battle of Gettysburg, he turned to God in prayer. “I went to my room one day, and I locked the door and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg.” Won by the Union, Gettysburg was one of the turning points in the war that ended slavery and kept the states united.

Today, the need for prayer is as great as ever. Our nation again faces battlefields, along with an epidemic of broken homes, violence, sexual immorality, and social strife. As the heroes of our nation did in the past, we must again bow our heads in prayer. We must ask the Lord to bless our leaders with wisdom and protection, and that we will have the fortitude to overcome the challenges at hand. If Esther, Mordecai, Roosevelt, the Pilgrims, and Lincoln never underestimated the power of prayer, neither should we.

The 64th annual National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 7. Join the prayer movement at

- Lance Wubbels