Prayer: A Pathway to True and Lasting Climate Change

Prayer: A Pathway to True and Lasting Climate Change

"And the Lord turned to him and said, 'Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do I not send you?'"
Judges 6:13-14, ESV


Hurricane Dorian, a category 5 storm with winds in excess of 180 mph, slammed into the Bahamas in 2019 and left inestimable damage in its wake. Property loss ranked in the billions of dollars and seventy-four people perished in the storm. More than two hundred people are still listed as missing. Many of the islanders are still trying to work through the rubble in an attempt to rebuild.

One cause of the catastrophic damage was the lack of adequate preparation for such a powerful hurricane. Scientists also believe that climate change has led to warmer ocean waters that, in turn, have provided the fuel for super destructive storms.

One of the hardest-hit parts of the islands was the electrical grid that operated on a costly, antiquated system. Restoring power to the region required some creative re-imagining that would help renew a way of life and protect residents against future storms.

Leaders determined to rely upon a God-given source of energy, the sun, and they began to install a solar system that would be able to withstand hurricane force winds. The impossible became possible when they began to work with the climate to make use of renewable energy.
Powerless in the storm
Ancient Israel, in Judges 6, had suffered a terrible storm of sorts when they chose to rely upon their own strength and ignored God’s covenant with them. Their adversary, Midian, had ravaged the land and terrified the people (6:2). That nemesis had caused Israel to hide in caves and watch powerlessly as their crops and livestock were stolen (6:3-5).

The impact on their nation was horrific and the people were rendered powerless to change their circumstances (6:5b, “laid waste”). So, Israel cried out to the Lord for Him to deliver them (6:6b).

The nation had failed to sustain their commitment to the Lord and much of their pain could have been avoided (6:10b, “you have not obeyed my voice”). Yet, they prayed and God heard their cries and brought about change. More was needed than a yell for help. The nation needed to repent. Fresh hope required a spiritual climate change, where the nation would be returned entirely to the Lord.
Steps that unleash power for change
First, see the cause for loss of power. C. S. Lewis once said, “one of the worst results of being a slave and being forced to do things, is that when there is no one to force you anymore, you find you have almost lost the power of forcing yourself." Israel had long since left Egyptian slavery behind, but the nation continued to be enslaved in heart.

They lacked the power to overcome outward obstacles, like Midian and the idols that held sway over their lives (6:6, "brought very low," meaning they were made small and paralyzed by their situation). Long before counselors conceived of cycles of addiction, the Old Testament author of Judges recognized a framework for such moral failure: idolatry, God’s anger provoked, defeat and enslavement, cry out for help, and deliverance by God’s appointed judge (see Judges 2:11ff.; 3:7, 12; 4:1; and 6:1). Israel was the poster child for this cycle of despair.

Secondly, seek God's help to restore power to our lives. The break in the framework for moral failure came when God intervened by saying, “The Lord is with you” (6:12; cf. Luke 1:28). He even declared that the broken and terribly flawed Gideon was a man of valor! Isn't it wonderful to realize that God uses broken people like us, and He does so through our heartfelt cries and prayers?

Keep in mind, Gideon's theology was something akin to “what have you done for us lately?!” (6:13). Even so, God was not dependent upon Gideon's good attitude in order to save him (nor is He for us, either). Despite the man's shriveled, sinful soul that was filled with self-doubt, God provided a seed of hope: “I will be with you . . .” (6:16).

We need this God in our own miserable wretchedness! Praise the Father, we have a God like this (Romans 5:8, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”)! He helps His people to restore their hope even as they walk through the rubble and overcome obstacles to renewal. So, we should maximize our focus on and efforts in prayer.
Prayer that gives rise to hope
Israel learned that God had not only delivered them in a mighty act of deliverance from Egypt, but that He also empowers His people to overcome daily obstacles in their paths. They had much rebuilding to do, but when the spiritual climate changed in the land, the results were life-changing for everyone.

We may learn the same as well. Prayer provides us with a vital link to the power of God, who enables us to emerge from the rubble of life’s storms and rebuild our lives with an everlasting source of divine energy.

Larry C. Ashlock