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Sun-stopping prayer

Do you know the bit in Joshua 10? - God promises Joshua and friends that he'll fight for them. Two responses: they're brave in battle, and Joshua prays boldly.

It's v12-14 that make the point very clearly: - here’s the most amazing prayer, and the most amazing answer to prayer, you’ll ever find:

“Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel,
‘O sun, stand still over Gibeon,O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.’So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,as it is written in the Book of Jashar.The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!"
So it was a one-off. I’m sure many people have tried it since. But this was a special case. Joshua needed to finish the battle, and for about a 24-hour period, something happens which breaks the rules of physics, astronomy, and everything else.

I don’t know how the universe could carry on existing without moving. I don’t know how the world could stop spinning without everyone getting whiplash. I don’t know whether they all fell over, or whether there were huge tidal waves. I don’t know why people in Australia don’t just fall off the world anyway. But this is what happened. Everyone’s birthdays went back a day … I think. At least, there were some children back in the Israelite camp who couldn’t believe their luck, because they had the longest birthday ever! But the all-powerful God stopped the sun and moon in their tracks so the Israelites could finish their job and see off their enemies.

To me, the universe stopping … is about a big a deal as you could get. But in v14, the biggest deal is not that. The biggest deal is that God would listen to a man.

It’s not saying this is the only prayer God ever answered. But God arranged the universe because a man told him to.

Have you ever thought how astonishing it is that God hears prayers? He orders the world, the sun and moon... I can’t even keep my shed tidy. Yet God stoops down to little creatures, made of dust, and hears our prayers.

How will that thought change the way we pray?

- it will stop us praying as if we were the centre of the universe, and that God exists to solve my problems.

- It will stop us praying as if we were whipping God into action, as if he was a genie that we had to excite enough to do something, by our special prayer voice, or words, or length.

- It will stop us treating prayer like a pointless exercise … as if he doesn’t really hear, and as if he can’t really do anything if he does.

- It will stop us going about prayer as a mundane routine that we just have to do because we’re Christians.

No, the God who holds the sun and moon in his power bends his ear down to our little lips.

But was that only for Joshua? … Well, yes, in part - he was the chosen man. And we have Jesus as our intercessor, at the Father’s side, pleading to God on our behalf. That gives us confidence! Yet he’s promised to us as well that he hears our prayers, and that if he hears, he answers.

Fight on ... and pray!