I noticed in yesterday’s Chronicles reading that Judah’s King Jehoshaphat made a point of consulting the Lord more than the other Kings did – or so it seemed to me (2 Chronicles 18:4, 6, 31). And the Lord answered.
That pattern continued into today’s reading.
I keep mentioning the book A Praying Life because it had such an impact on my prayer life. When we don’t go to God with every decision, we act like “functional atheists.” Even if we are equipped to make decisions by virtue of natural wisdom, age, experience, and intelligence, it’s still the height of pride not to seek God in all things.
I am still in shock that I never “got” that before. I am daily confronted with the many decisions and life issues – even the words I say! – that I fail and have failed to bring to the Throne in prayer.
What impertinence! What pride!
Despite some failings, King J “set [his] heart on seeking God.” (2 Chronicles 19: 3). And it showed as he prayed. As a matter of fact, King J seems to have learned the lesson of reliant prayer better than me.
He sought God in chapter 18. In Chapter 19, King J instructs the judges he appointed to rely on God’s wisdom in their decisions. (2 Chronicles 19: 6) And when news of an approaching Army reached the king in Chapter 20:
Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. (2 Chronicles 20: 3-4)
In this case, Judah would have certainly lost the battle without God’s miraculous intervention. So the men, women, children, and “little ones” gathered – and prayed like little ones:
…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. vs. 12
In response to the prayer, a Levite prophesied:
Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battleis not yours, but God’s… You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you. (vs. 15b,17)
Then King J and the people responded… with more prayer:
Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. Then some Levites … stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. (vs. 18-19)
And when they went out to battle, they prayed some more – they sang their way into battle with praise songs!
Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”
As they sang, God confused the three groups of Judah’s enemies who turned upon each other in confusion, leaving no one alive. God won the battle…
King J prayed in extremely difficult situations. It was obvious he needed God’s help. On the other hand, I haven’t prayed over every detail, every decision, every concern. Why? I guess I figured I could handle it (or if not, God would graciously stop me!).
I’m not going to war or threatened by war. I’m just living life. I didn’t realize until recently that I’ve acted like I didn’t need God. Like a functional atheist.
In reality, all of our decisions are about war and all of our fears are because of war. Spiritual war.
I am not equipped to make the right decisions because I am a sinner. And even if I am smart or wise enough – or “Spirit-filled” enough – to do so, what haughtiness not to go to God for help. Just in case. But also, just because.
Because He is God. And I’m not.
King J got it. And I am beginning to.
Today’s Readings: 2 Chronicles 19:4-21:3, Psalm 82:1-8, Proverbs 20:29-30, Acts 17:1-15. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).