When I think about different prayers in the Bible, one that comes to mind is from King Jehoshaphat found in 2 Chronicles 20. King Jehoshaphat was one of the kings of Judah. In this story that we are going to cover, Judah was facing an unexpected battle. The Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat (v 1). As you can imagine, this “alarmed” Jehoshaphat (v 3). But he immediately took action.
1 – God should be our first response, not our last resort
One thing that I love about this story is that in verses 6-12, Jehoshaphat promptly turned to God in prayer. When we are facing a difficulty, what is our first reaction? I fear that often times we either try to handle it on our own, or we turn to other people for advice. But God should be our first response, not our last resort. This also tells me that Jehoshaphat was already accustomed to seeking God in prayer. He already had a strong relationship with God, or he would not have thought to turn to Him first and foremost. So we too should strengthen our relationship with the Lord and strengthen our prayer lives, every single day. Don’t wait. Prayer should be as natural to us as breathing.
2 – Encourage prayer
Another thing I like about Jehoshaphat’s response is that he prayed publicly. As the king of Judah and ultimately a person of influence, this was a vital step to take. The people of Judah would look to the king to see what his response was. If he was fearful, they would likely be fearful as well. But he responded with faith, which brought faith to the people. We too can influence those around us to seek God in prayer, when we display strong prayer lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean we have to always pray publicly. In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus warns against praying in front of others for recognition. But it might be good for those in our household, especially our children, to see us pray. And we can also let others know how much we rely on God in our prayer lives, without having a boastful attitude.
3 – Rely on God’s strength
Jehoshaphat starts off his prayer in verse 6 by saying, “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.” In these sentences, Jehoshaphat recognizes God’s strength and power. This is so important for us to remember when we are facing a problem. We often have fear because we are looking at our issues from a human perspective. We think that we have to face our difficulties in our own strength. But things look completely different when we remember that we have Almighty God beside us, and that we are relying on HIS strength and power, not our own.
4 – Remember God’s promises and God’s victories
In verses 7-9, Jehoshaphat goes on to say, “Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’”
In these verses Jehoshaphat is remembering that God promised the land where they are living to Abraham’s descendants. In other words, Jehoshaphat is saying, “Surely those who wage war against us cannot win this battle. You promised us this land, God.” When we are facing a battle, we too should remember God’s promises. Familiarize yourself with promises found in the Bible and memorize them. Keep God’s Word tucked in your heart. It would also do us good to remember battles that God has won in the past, either in our own lives or in biblical times. When we are facing something scary, we can remember all the times when God has saved us or His people before. Both of these will help us to face our struggles with renewed confidence. Keeping a gratitude journal and/or prayer journal would also be beneficial in this area.
5 – Seek God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection
In verses 10-12, Jehoshaphat prays, “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 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 on you.”
In these verses, Jehoshaphat is ultimately seeking God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection. This is something we should do every day, not just when facing a difficulty. Before our feet hit the floor, we should remember to hand our day over to God. We don’t know what we will face each day, but He does. And He can help us to take on whatever comes our way.
In the end, God defeated the armies that were coming to attack Jehoshaphat and Judah. In fact, they never even had to lift one weapon. This story is an amazing picture of God’s goodness and power. And this story is also a great reminder for us to seek God in prayer, not just when we are facing a battle, but every day of our lives. When we pray daily, we are growing closer to God and strengthening our walk. Then when we do face a difficulty, God will be our first response, not our last resort.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas