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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 218

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jehoshaphat

Jehoshaphat was the son of Asa, a king of Judah. After Asa’s death, Jehoshaphat took his father’s throne at the age of thirty-five, and reigned over Judah for twenty-five years. During his reign, Jehoshaphat systematically set about destroying the idols of Baal, and turning the hearts of the people back to their God.

It was not an easy task, and Jehoshaphat had opposition, but his desire was to fulfill the law of God, to pursue the righteousness of God, and he let nothing stand in his way.

2 Chronicles 17:3, “Now the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David; he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, and walked in His commandments and not according to the acts of Israel.”

There was a clear and distinct reason as to why the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, and it was not because of his heritage, or who his father had been, but because he sought God and walked in His commandments, and not according to what everyone else was doing.

At the time of Jehoshaphat’s ascent to power, Israel had strayed from the commandments of the Lord. They had surrendered their hearts to idols, and began to worship the deities of the nations surrounding them rather than the one true God. Even though the great majority had given themselves over to idolatry, Jehoshaphat walked in the former ways, in the righteousness of God, and because he chose to seek the Lord, the Lord was with him.

The ‘everyone else is doing it’ excuse doesn’t work with God. It doesn’t matter how many have embraced a certain practice, believe a certain thing, or follow a certain doctrine. If it is not in harmony with the Word of God, if it does not echo the Scriptures, if it does not serve the Lord, you ought not to surrender your heart to it.

As believers we give in to peer pressure far more often than we ought. We want to be liked, accepted and embraced, and so we begin to make concessions where no concessions can be made. We either walk the narrow path among the few, or the wide path among the many.

Jehoshaphat chose to walk the narrow path even though the overwhelming majority had chosen otherwise. As individuals we are individually responsible for none other than ourselves. We will not answer on behalf of another as to why they did or didn’t choose to follow after truth, we will answer for ourselves.

Not only did Jehoshaphat choose to walk in the ways of the Lord, he committed himself to stirring the hearts of the people, and showing them the way they must go. Toward this end Jehoshaphat also incorporated the help of the Levites whom he sent out to teach the law of the Lord to every city.

Because of his principled stance, because he would not compromise, Jehoshaphat had his share of enemies, detractors, and those who would see him dethroned. Trials were also constant companions of Jehoshaphat, because serving God does not mean being spared trials. On the contrary, when the enemy sees us striving for righteousness and holiness, he focuses his attacks on us in the hopes of dissuading us from seeking a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with God.

The enemy is unconcerned with the lukewarm. He is unconcerned with those who only pay God lip service but live their lives contrary to the virtues they profess. The enemy grows despondent when he sees an individual seeking God with their whole heart and walking in the ways of the Lord because he knows the power and authority true believers have access to in God.

If you are not a threat to the enemy, chances are he will leave you alone.

Jehoshaphat was a threat to the enemy and all his plans. He was waging a one man crusade against darkness and making headway. Seeing this, the enemy began his own counteroffensive hoping to thwart Jehoshaphat.

And so, war came by way of Moab and Ammon. The Moabites and Ammonites were great in number, and when Jehoshaphat was informed of their coming against him, he was fearful, and set himself to seek the Lord.

2 Chronicles 20:3, ‘And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout Judah.”

More often than not fear cripples even the bravest of men. When we allow fear to worm its way into our hearts we no longer react to events in our lives in an appropriate or timely manner. Fear paralyzes, it weakens our resolve, and we hesitate when we should quicken our pace.

Throughout the Scriptures we see the outcome of fear in the hearts of kings and leaders of men alike, who made compromises upon compromises just to be left alone, just to be spared. All men feel fear, all men go through those moments when they realize they are afraid, but it’s what they do in those instances that truly matter. What do you do when you fear? How do you react to fear in your heart? Do you allow fear to paralyze you, or do you run into the arms of God? Do you allow fear to dictate terms, or do you rise above the fear, and seek the Lord in your trial?

Jehoshaphat feared, but he did not allow the fear he felt to paralyze him. He set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout Judah, knowing only God could remedy the situation he found himself in, and only God could grant him victory.

Do you know God well enough to know He is the one to run to when you feel fear? Do you know God well enough to know that He can remedy any situation, fix any problem, and deliver you from any danger?

Jehoshaphat sought the God of his father, walked in His commandments and as a direct result got to know God on a personal and intimate level. Because he knew the God he served, because he knew the power of Him, and the glory of Him, Jehoshaphat ran to God when he felt fear and sought to the Lord when his enemies encamped around him.

Jehoshaphat did not march his armies onto the battlefield thinking he could vanquish the Ammonites and the Moabites on his own, he did not try to remedy the situation with his own intellect, he ran to God, and sought the Lord.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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