Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Wonderful Prayer to Pray

O our God, will You judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.
~2 Chronicles 20:12

King Jehoshaphat did not know what to do and was afraid. He had just received word that A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi) (2 Chronicles 20:2). A coalition of the Moabites, Ammonites, and the Meunites were moving in fast to attack the nation of Judah. They had just come around the south of the Dead Sea and were in perfect range to head North to Jerusalem for a straight forward attack. Since the armies of the three of these nations banded together, the multitude might have been fairly large. Anyone of us in a similar situation as Jehoshaphat might have been fearful as well. I'm not sure how large these armies were but clearly Judah was outnumbered. However, in light of the size notice the king's response.

Jehoshaphat didn't let his fear drive him to run away or admit defeat in the face of what looked to be an insurmountable challenge ahead. Instead, he set his face (the literal Hebrew) to seek the LORD (2 Chronicles 20:3). He then called all the people of Judah to fast so the nation as a whole would seek God in this massive time of distress. He went to the LORD for help. He didn't seek to come up with a foolproof strategy of how his smaller army might beat the odds. This is a good example of someone who modeled Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. So often when we are surrounded by a multitude of problems or burdens, we allow our fear to direct us to flee or we try to handle the challenges ourselves when instead the fear should drive us to our knees like it did Jehoshaphat. While on his knees, Jehoshaphat delivers a powerful prayer that could serve as a great guide for us when we find ourselves in a similar situation and are afraid of a multitude that may be plaguing us.

He starts the prayer recognizing that God is sovereign and in complete control (v 6). One of the greatest confidences we have is that God is in full control of everything that happens in the universe. There is not one stray molecule outside His sovereign will. No matter what happens, God is in charge and knows what He is doing. Jehoshaphat then refers to God's help in the past as part of His covenant He made with the nation and His ongoing promise to them that they would have an inheritance in the land of Canaan (vv 7-9). Just as God has helped the people before, he is certain He will again. He also knows that the Lord will keep all His promises, including the one that He had made with them. The king then brings up the request to God for help to protect the people from the threat (vv 10-12). He acknowledges how much they needed God and could not handle the situation on their own and in their own strength. The heart of the reason for the prayer was because we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us (v 12). Jehoshaphat knew that the people did not stand a chance on their own without God. He also realized that he had no clue how to handle the situation. nor do we know what to do. The one thing he did do was to focus on God. but our eyes are on You. He knew the only one who could help him in this time of trouble was the Almighty God who had looked out for them all this time. God was gracious and answered Jehoshaphat's prayer. God fought the battle for the people. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's (v 15). He actually confused the opposing armies and had them take care of each other! The Israelites did not even have to lift a sword!

This is a wonderful prayer that many of us would do well to pray. We often find ourselves "powerless" facing the multitude of things that come our way, maybe not necessarily a physical army like King Jehoshaphat faced but a multitude of problems and burdens that we feel we just can't bear. We find ourselves in a place where we don't know what to do. Thus, we need to ask God to handle the matter just as Jehoshaphat did upon the threat of the coalition of armies moving closer to Jerusalem. While we are lost concerning the right direction to go, we need to keep our eyes on Him. It is when we seek the Lord and admit that we are powerless that He takes over the battle for us and insures the victory. Then we can say the battle is not yours but God's and praise God for the victory that He will bring.

If you are facing such a multitude, maybe its time for you to follow Jehoshaphat's example and seek God, admit your helplessness, and give the battle to Him. I know I will be spending some time seeking Him for help with some of my multitudes!

In Christ,

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