Psalm 18.6-17 says:

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears. 
Then the earth shook and quaked;
And the foundations of the mountains were trembling
And were shaken, because He was angry.
Smoke went up out of His nostrils,
And fire from His mouth devoured;
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With thick darkness under His feet.
He rode upon a cherub and flew;
And He sped upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him,
Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
He sent out His arrows, and scattered them,
And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.
Then the channels of water appeared,
And the foundations of the world were laid bare
At Your rebuke, O Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
He sent from on high, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.

The Bible teaches us that God hears and answers the prayers of his people. But it says relatively little about HOW God answers our prayers. It says little about how he arranges the circumstances and forces of our lives to secure his glory, to accomplish his purposes, and to bless his people. For the most part, the Bible affirms that these things are true, but offers little by way of explanation.

The text quoted above is an interesting exception. Psalm 18 is a prayer of thanksgiving by David. The inscription of the psalm indicates that David composed it after he was freed from King Saul’s menace, and after God had delivered him from his enemies, apparently during the early years of his reign. For the most part, the psalm celebrates a military victory for David by the hand of God. We don’t know any details from the psalm, but the militaristic language and the inscription support this.

Verses 7-15 comprise a powerful affirmation about how God answered David’s prayer. David says that he cried to the LORD for help (v 6), and the LORD answered from heaven. Verses 16-17 indicate that the prayer was answered. Sandwiched between these two prayer references is the mighty rhetoric of v 7-15. 

How did God answer David? In highly metaphoric language, the LORD shook heaven and earth to answer David’s prayers. He shook the earth (v 7); he sent fire and smoke (v 8); he flew down from heaven in clouds and wind (v 9f); he used the darkness (v 11); he thundered from heaven (v 13); he sent bolts of lightening (v 14); he flooded the earth (v 15). 

Many times in biblical history God used the forces of nature to accomplish his purposes. The LORD used a massive flood to destroy the sinful world in Noah’s day (Genesis 6-8). He used fire and brimstone to destroy ungodly Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). God manipulated nature to destroy the Egyptian army and secure deliverance for Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 14-15). He caused the sun to stop midday to help Joshua and Israel secure a victory over the Amorite alliance (Joshua 10). He used flash flooding to neutralize the superior chariot forces of the Canaanites when they fought Deborah and Barak (Judges 4-5). Whether this is the case with David’s prayer and deliverance, we do not know, but the point remains: God is willing to move heaven and earth to answer prayer for his people.

Psalm 18 is not the only text to suggest this. The book of Revelation presents the prayers of saints as offerings that are perpetually before the throne of God, attended to by heavenly hosts (5.8; 6.9ff; 7.3, 9ff). These are pleas for vindication by those who have been persecuted for their faith. But these prayers, which ascend to the very throne room of God, are answered in dramatic fashion by returning them to earth in the form of lightning judgments. Beginning in 8.3ff, the prayers of the saints are mixed with the very judgments used against their persecutors. 

We may not always be able to see the effects of our prayers. We may not always know if they have been answered. But we can have no doubt about God’s concerns for his people. We can have no doubt that our creator can and does move heaven and earth to answer us. And none can stand against his judgments — rulers, governments, armies, schools, philosophies, markets, sciences — all are impotent against his wrath. 

For today, live with the assurance that God will move heaven and earth for his saints. He will summon his vast forces and resources for you and me.