Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 219

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jehoshaphat continued...

2 Chronicles 20:4, “So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”

It wasn’t just Jehoshaphat seeking the Lord by himself, the people had heard of the approaching danger, and so they gathered together from all the cities of Judah to ask help from the Lord. All these people were united in one purpose, and as a corporate body they prayed for the Lord to help them out of the predicament they found themselves in.

Both in the Old and New Testaments we see the tendency for corporate prayer whenever the dangers the people of God faced were beyond their ability to deal with. We seek solace among the brethren, and though many have tried to disprove it over the years, we tend to believe there is safety in numbers. Hence the reason for the numerous Scripture passages encouraging us not to forsake the fellowship of the brethren.

Unity and fellowship are precious things, often unappreciated in and of themselves, until they are no longer possible.

Judah saw the danger approaching, and so they gathered to pray and seek the Lord. It wasn’t something they left up to the priests or the Levites, it wasn’t something they left up to the king, they all gathered, from all the cities of Judah, because they realized no one could pray on their behalf, and no one could seek the Lord in lieu of them.

Those who gathered were not just the heads of the households of Judah, but they brought with them wives and children, all praying together, all seeking the Lord, because men, women, and children alike are individually responsible for coming before the Lord.

2 Chronicles 20:13, “Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.”

There is a danger in not introducing our children to the Lord from an early age, and there is a danger in not being living testimonies for our families. Just because one generation knows the Lord does not automatically guarantee that the next generation will likewise know the Lord if they are not raised up in the ways of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 20:5-6, “Then Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said: ‘O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you?’”

Try as one might, it is difficult if not outright impossible to overstate the importance of righteous and godly leadership. Whether it pertains to a nation, a congregation, or a family, if the leader is righteous, he will compel the rest of the nation, the body or the family to righteousness.

Jehoshaphat was a man of righteousness, therefore he stood in midst of the congregation in the house of the Lord and prayed to God for victory rather than attempt to win the battle on his own.

When ungodly men rule over a nation or a congregation, it shows. It won’t take much time to see the stress fractures and the cracks in the meticulously choreographed programs or services, because when God is systematically rejected, when His counsel is not heeded and His commandments are ignored, He leaves the nation or the congregation to the desires of their heart.

To those of the world being left to the desire of one’s heart might sound like a good thing, something to be welcomed and celebrated, but the desire of flesh is always to draw further away from God, and eventually, when darkness overwhelms the senses and the light of hope no longer shines in the heart, one realizes just how tragic being left to the desire of one’s heart truly is.

Jehoshaphat and the people gathered in the house of the Lord and prayed. Prayer was their preparation for the battle to come. They didn’t come together to discuss strategy, nor did they come together to exchange battle tactics, they came together to pray and beseech God to intervene on their behalf and give them victory.

Jehoshaphat himself began to pray, and his prayer confirms a deep, intimate, and profound knowledge of God. Jehoshaphat did not pray as one who had a partial or tangential knowledge of God, he did not pray as one who had heard stories of the God of Israel and in a pinch decided to cry out to Him. Jehoshaphat prayed as one who knew God on an intimate level, who had seen His mighty hand at work, and who believed in the power and might of the Lord.

The battle Jehoshaphat and his people were being forced into came as a surprise to them. It was neither welcomed nor expected, but not everything in life is. One of the most powerful lessons we can glean from Jehoshaphat’s prayer, and subsequent actions, is that although certain circumstances in our lives may cause us to grow fearful, although some events which befall us are numbing and unexpected, we must always be ready for battle, having prepared ourselves through prayer and supplication.

The battle belongs to the Lord. If this truth is alive and vibrant in us, there is no worry or concern over how we will overcome the enemy, or win the skirmish. We know it is not up to us, it is not contingent upon our own strength or military prowess, it is all God, and He gives the victory.

We know God rules over kingdoms and nations, we know in His hand are power and might, and the knowledge of this gives us hope and boldness to stand on the battlefield, and confront the enemy which threatens to overrun us.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

The Old Testament is very boring becasue it is just one battle after another. You grow weary from reading how they were ambushed again and again. When you hear modern preachers, you are led to believe that a walk in Christ is a walk in glory on earth. I think it is just more of the same tiresome battle after battle like in the Old Testament.

Sometimes you just want to give up but I think the point is that you have to just keep praying through it all like Jehosaphat. Christians don't tend to want to stand with you through the hard times. They want to offer some instant correction if anything. They are not willing to help bear one another's burdens like the congregation did for Jehosaphat.

It is hard to find Christians who will really back you up. They are more likely to tear you down out of spite or try to control you like a puppet.