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Desperation & Prayer

There is an interesting story in the bible in which Jehoshaphat, one of good kings of Judah, is being ambushed by an alliance of enemies (2 Chronicles 20:1-30).  The attacking armies are said to be vast. This alarms Jehoshaphat.  Thankfully, the first thing he does is ask God about it, and call a fast.

His move was wise.  In doing so he rallied his people and caused them to focus their thinking, beliefs, and energies on the one power they really had — the God of everything! His spoken, public prayer is informative. In it, he lifts God up, calling to their remembrance how their Lord rules all the nations, and that no one can fight against him. He recalls the mighty things that God had produced for his people, like driving out the evil hordes that existed in the land before they arrived, and how he had given that land to his people. He asks God directly for assistance in this dire situation.  Ultimately, God answers the prayer, telling them that the won’t even have to fight the enemy. In the end, the ambushing armies turn on themselves and collapse.

There is much to be taken from Jehoshaphat’s story. But a few things stand out:

1) Jehoshaphat prays directly to God, and in the presence of other believers.  He speaks the words. He doesn’t just silently go over them in his head. Everyone hears them. It is faith producing a behavioral result.

2) His words testify and remind everyone of the greatness of God.  Sometimes we forget what God is. We forget that he is master of all, that he has made everything, and that no one is above him, and that he is all powerful.

3) His words built faith because they were a remembrance of the great things God had already done, and everyone had already witnessed. When faith becomes real, people act on it.

4) They put their faith in action. When God told them to march out against the enemy, they did it.  And when they did, God put his power in action, and their enemies fell!

Jehoshaphat saw these things in a moment of desperation. Crisis has a way of creating focus. But these principles are just as valid when there is no crisis.

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