Prayer in a Crisis

King Jehoshaphat of Judah knew about prayer in predicaments. We get flustered, panic, and forget last week’s sermon on prayer. Jehoshaphat turned to the Lord and led the nation in a fast and prayer. Abstaining from food is a sure way to demonstrate our hunger for God to break into our situation but it is his crisis prayer that we shall consider.

Three hostile nations were poised to invade; Judah was outnumbered.

O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying, “Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.”  Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them), see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance. O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You. (2 Chron. 20:5-12)

His prayer has a simple but potent pattern:

We often miss the commonplace—prayers usually begin with names or titles of God. Jesus taught his disciples to pray to “Our Father.” Jehoshaphat began with God’s personal name, Yahweh (translated, LORD). God spoke that name to Moses from a burning bush. It expressed His supremacy and timelessness. “I AM WHO I AM.”1 When we call on God, it helps to remember that He is still sovereign in every crisis.

Jehoshaphat continued, addressing Him as God of our fathers, the One who promised and proved His faithfulness to Abraham and every generation throughout Israel’s history. In addition, God is ruler of the heavens and the earthly nations. No other authority compares with Him. He has all the power required to do His will. Direct your prayers to God with those qualities in mind. Choose other titles that highlight His ability to accomplish what’s needed.

The king proceeded to remind God of His track record in providing a home for the nation after He drove out their enemies. The benefits of remembering what God has done for us in the past are enormous; we can draw fresh faith from those memories.

Next, Jehoshaphat pointed to the covenant relationship between Israel and God. He focused on the prayer of Solomon at the founding of the temple and the visitation of God that confirmed His faithfulness to the covenant.2 We can make the same claim, “On the basis of our relationship, ‘You will hear and deliver us.’” The land that is under threat is first God’s possession, then Judah’s inheritance. God gave Judah stewardship of the territory but He continued to defend it.

Only then did Jehoshaphat lay down his specific request for God to judge their enemies. He humbly admitted national cluelessness, powerlessness, and utter dependence on the Lord. His eyes were indeed on God.

This crisis prayer is an example of how worship and prayer intertwine. Jehoshaphat always exalted God above the crisis and above Judah’s inability to defend herself. Never is God doubted; never does the king despair. God is praised for who He is, what He has done, and what He will do again.

Right then, from among the crowd, God answered through a lesser Levite called Jahaziel. His specific instructions and prophetic encouragement led them to “see the salvation of the Lord.”3 Take this robust model and make it your own!

Do you know anyone who would benefit from devotional pieces like this? Please share Bible Maturity with them.

  1. Ex. 3:14-15 []
  2. 2 Chron. 6:28-30; 7:1-3 []
  3. 2 Chron. 20:14-18 []

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