Online Bible Commentary
The Power of Prayer
Esther 6:1 That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 3 Then the king said, "What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?" And the king's servants who attended him said, "Nothing has been done for him." 4 So the king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 The king's servants said to him, "Haman is there, standing in the court." And the king said, "Let him come in." 6 So Haman came in, and the king asked him, "What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?" Now Haman thought in his heart, "Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?" (NKJV)
Esther, a Jew, lived in Persia about thirty years prior to the return of the exiled Jews from Babylon, in the Persian Empire, with Ezra in 458 B.C. and Nehemiah in 445 B.C. We know that King Xerxes died in 465 B.C, and his death is cited in the Book of Esther. In the story, King Xerxes had dismissed the Queen and started a process to find a new Queen. That new Queen turned out to be Esther.
Esther was a child of Mordecai’s uncle and when her parents died, Mordecai raised her. As she was going through the process of being selected Queen Mordecai advised her not to reveal that she was a Jew.
Meanwhile, Haman, Xerxes’ top official, had grown to dislike Mordecai because Mordecai would not bow down to him. Therefore, Haman convinced King Xerxes that all Jews in the Persian Empire should be exterminated because of Mordecai’s disrespect. This would have effectively wiped out the Jewish people.
Mordecai went to Esther and asked her to plead with the King for the lives of the Jewish people. Esther asked Mordecai to fast for three days, which included prayer, and she would do likewise. After the three days Esther agreed to approach the King even though it may have meant losing her life. She arranged a banquet where she would make her request. This is where the Scripture takes over the story.
The night before the banquet the King could not sleep. He decided to read and discovered that Mordecai should be honored (vv. 1-3). He did not know that Mordecai was a Jew, and Haman’s enemy. Haman had already erected a gallows to have Mordecai hung (V.4). The King called for Haman and, much to Haman’s dismay, ordered him to honor Mordecai (vv. 5-6).
There is more to the story. However, this portion of the story shows us how the hand of God brings about favorable circumstances for His children.
Esther and Mordecai had prayed and fasted for three days. They had implored the Lord to intervene and to work things together for their good and for the good of the Jewish nation. They had placed everything in the Lord’s hands and had sought out His guidance on what actions to take.
Then, Esther felt that God had given her the go ahead to talk to the King. She requested a banquet, where she would make her request of the King to save the Jewish people from extinction.
Even so, Mordecai was only hours from being hanged. Haman wanted to hang Mordecai before Esther’s banquet so that he could be rid of his nuisance and could enjoy the banquet. That is when the hand of God intervened. God caused Xerxes not to be able to sleep and to read instead. That lead to Mordecai being honored and Haman’s plans, for the time being, were thwarted.
This is an example of how God engineers circumstances in order to answer prayer. Esther and Mordecai were in the center of God’s will and He granted their prayer requests. God is not even mentioned in the Book of Esther. But this book is part of the Canon because it shows God’s providential care of those he loves.
This passage shows us the power of prayer. As Christians, we should always pray about significant decisions. Esther and Mordecai prayed for three days, waiting for God’s answer. We should also wait on the Lord. We should wait for a clear sign from the Lord before making major decisions. His timing is not our timing. His ways are not our ways. His plan is always better than our plan.