Reading through the Bible book of 2 Chronicles the other day, I ran across a story from the life of King Jehoshaphat that caused me to think about prayer. Taking place in chapter 20, the story details a pending attack on Jerusalem by a large army. When the news came to the king, he was distressed and called the nation to pray and fast. Watching his reaction to a challenging situation allowed me to see some important lessons.
When trouble comes:
Seek God: The king immediately turned to God and the entire nation followed his example as they gathered together to ask God for help. Listen to what the king prayed in v. 12, “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” In this verse, he recognizes his dependency on God and his need for direction from God. I appreciated the way the king laid it all out before God in front of the people. The people responded by joining together in crying out to God.
Wait on God: I saw this step as “all the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.” When facing difficulty and we don’t know which direction to turn, that may be the perfect time to wait for clarity. We do need to wait with expectation that God will give an answer, but waiting for direction is never wrong. (Note: waiting and refusing to step out in faith are two totally different things.)
Believe God: The answer from God came very quickly as they waited. God’s Spirit spoke through one of the prophets and told the king, “You don’t have to worry about a thing, I (God) will fight for you and you will not have to swing a sword. Tomorrow, march into battle, but I’ve got this.” (my words) The king took God at his word and broke out into praise at the promise of God’s protection. He put this belief into action the next morning when he assigned the singers to the head of the army as they marched into battle. (Normally, we don’t think of the singers being the rough and tumble soldier-type.) With the singers singing praises to God, God set ambushes against the enemy army. They began fighting among themselves and by the time Jehoshaphat’s army arrived at the battle field, the opposing army had slaughtered themselves. Not one enemy soldier was left alive. As God promised, he was going to fight for Judah.
Reading this story, I recognized that Jehoshaphat was a man who had made it a practice to pray to God. When this situation arose, he simply did what he always did: he prayed. His example mobilized an entire nation who was then able to see what God could do.
I wonder what would happen if we were to regularly practice the art of prayer? Would this practice prepare us for impending challenges? Would following Jehoshaphat’s example yield the same results he discovered as God fought for him? I am committed to growing a church planting organization that practices prayer as a core value. I know this practice will yield long-term results that nothing else can bring. I also know that as we practice the believing part of prayer that we will see God’s mighty hand in action. I am looking forward to stepping forward in prayer.