Reading my Bible this morning, God did something powerful by aligning Scripture with our message from church the past Sunday. The message: Prayer has the power to change lives.
In Second Chronicles 20, I learned that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah was facing an invasion from the Moabites and Ammonites. Knowing he was outnumbered and overpowered, Jehoshaphat did what any faithful follower does when they’re in trouble: he sought the Lord (v. 3).
But then, something miraculous happens. All of Judah and Jerusalem gathered together in the house of the Lord and they started praying. And this prayer that Jehoshaphat cries out to the Lord is so humble and direct:
“O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
“Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?
“And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,
“If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
“And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;
“Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou has given us to inherit.”
– Second Chronicles 20:6-12
Pastor Chad Glover at Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri preached this past Sunday about how to pray. He used the Lord’s Prayer found in Luke 11 and Matthew 6 as a guide:
“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…”
You’ve likely heard this prayer before, or have grown up praying it. But there is a specific structure to it that our prayers should mimic:
- Know the character of God
- Know the will of God
- Express your needs
- Confess your sins and pray for forgiveness of them
- Pray for protection
- Pray for direction
When we look back at Jehoshaphat’s prayer, we see these elements in his cry for help.
Know the Character of God: “O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?” (2 Chronicles 20:6)
Jehoshaphat knows that God is unbeatable. That God is the ruler of heaven and all the kingdoms of heathens. This is the character of our God: mighty and awesome is our Father. And it’s His strength that Jehoshaphat is calling for.
Know the Will of God: “Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?” (2 Chronicles 20:7)
Jehoshaphat is reminding God that His will is to keep the kingdoms of God and their inherited land within the descendants of Abraham because of His covenant. That no kingdoms of earth should rise against them or take the land from them. This is the will of God regarding the land.
Express Your Needs: “And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir…how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou has given us to inherit.
“O our God, wilt thou not judge them?” (2 Chronicles 20: 10-12)
Jehoshaphat needs God to judge his enemies and destroy them that are rising against him. It’s a simple, yet direct request.
Confess and Repent: Jehoshaphat didn’t confess sins in this prayer, but he had also lived a holy life aside from aiding Ahab who opposed God.
Pray for Protection and Direction: “For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither we know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
Jehoshaphat says, “God, we aren’t strong enough to defeat our enemies and we’re not sure what to do. Please, Lord, intervene. Use your might and strength and loyalty to the seed of Abraham and Jacob and David to save us. We know we’re outmanned here, but our eyes are on you, Lord, and we see your power and know it can crush our adversaries.”
So what was God’s response to Jehoshaphat?
God spoke through Jahaziel who was among the crowd, and He said: “O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:17)
So, the next day, they go out singing, “Praise the Lord; for His mercy endures forever” (v 21) and when they get to the watchtower and look out over the camps of the Moabites and Ammonites, all they see is corpses (v 24). God had delivered Judah as promised. “The Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir…and they were smitten” (2 Chronicles 20:22).
Not only did God hear their prayer, but He answered it too. He utterly destroyed the armies that came against His children. He is a God of rescue. A God of His promises. And He promises by the Lord’s prayer to “deliver us from evil”.
My favorite part about this story is this line right here: “And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” (2 Chronicles 20:13). Everyone in Judah gathered at church to pray this prayer because they knew they couldn’t do it alone. Imagine a church house full of prayer warriors. Thousands of sons and daughters of God uniting their cry for God’s power and promise to deliver them from their enemies.
Does it take an entire city for your prayer to be heard? Not at all.
Does it take a war for your needs to be significant to God? Not at all.
The Lord’s prayer applies to every child of God, and to all problems mighty and menial.
God has answered thousands of prayers like this in the Bible, and thousands more since. Yours count. And when the Evil One comes against you (regarding your finances, health, relationships, family, etc.) be like Jehoshaphat: let God be your first call for help, because realistically, prayer will be the only call you’ll need to make.