As Christians, we go through seasons. Sometimes we are in a season of peace, and our lives can roll with very little friction. Other times the battle gets hot, and the hits start coming one after another. Whether it’s conflict on the job, issues with health, problems at home, concern about the news, or just our own thoughts that seek to torment us, the enemy would have us feeling helpless and frustrated. But we were never meant to face this life alone. God is with us, and He is waiting for us to call upon Him for help. But how do we do that? How do we pray prayers that God will hear and be moved to answer? Here are three lessons we can learn from a prayer that changed everything.
King Jehoshaphat of Judah’s Prayer
Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah from 873-849 BC. He was one of the few Israelite rulers who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” He was a good king in a bad situation when he got the news that the Moabites, Ammonites, and others gathered their armies against his people. See, God had told the Israelites not to invade those very nations at one point (Deuteronomy 2:19). But here they were working together to attack God’s people instead. Jehoshaphat was outnumbered and outmatched in the natural. He was afraid, but he didn’t panic. He didn’t try to send women and children to safety or get their weapons ready for one last stand. No, Jehoshaphat called for all of Judah to fast and pray to the Lord for help.
He began his prayer with praise for the God who was much greater than any problem or enemy they could face. He reminded Him of all the times when God had fought on behalf of His people. And he stood firmly on the fact that God was their God, that He was with them and would hear them and save them. He also reminded God that He had kept the Israelites from invading the exact people who were about to destroy them in the very land God had given them to possess. Finally, he admitted to God that he was powerless to fight this army. Instead, Judah was counting on God to protect them. (Read the prayer here: 2 Chronicles 20:6-12.)
God soon sent word through Jahaziel the prophet that the people of Judah did not need to be afraid. He would fight for them. All they had to do was to meet the invading armies and watch what God would do. Jehoshaphat believed God. He sent his people into battle, not with swords and chariots, but with their voices lifted high in praise to God. The people of Judah watched in awe as the invading armies fought against themselves to the death. But the spoil belonged to the to the people of Judah. For three days, they collected more precious jewels and valuables than they were able to carry away. Then on the fourth day, God’s people gathered in Jerusalem, again singing God’s praises for His victory.
3 Lessons from Jehoshaphat
1. Don’t Pray Alone
The first thing we notice from Jehoshaphat is that when he realized that he was in over his head, he called upon the Lord. But he didn’t do it alone. He asked others to help.
Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” God gives us our brothers and sisters for a reason. Yes, we are there for support and encouragement, but we are also told to pray together. We must be willing to lay down our pride and self-sufficiency and say, “I need God to help me. Please add your voice to mine.” And then we return the favor when others need us to pray for them.
2. Let Your Prayers Glorify God
Next, if we look at the words of Jehoshaphat’s prayer, we see a definite focus: God. He didn’t tell God how scared he was, how unprepared and undermanned his armies were, or how great the enemies were that gathered against him. No. Jehoshaphat glorified God. He praised Him for who He is and what He has done. He reminded Him that they had a relationship, that they were His people, and He was their God. Jehoshaphat asked for the victory against those who would seek his destruction and acknowledged that he was completely dependent upon God to save them.
Instead of coming to God with the greatness of our enemy, we should face our enemy with the greatness of our God. When Jesus showed us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer), He modeled for us a prayer that begins with praise. In fact, God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). We can stand on the promises that God has made to us in His Word by praying His own Words back to Him. We can remind Him that we belong to Him and count on Him to take care of us. After all, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
3. Act on God’s Answer
Finally, we see that when Jehoshaphat received the answer that God would fight for them, he didn’t waste time asking questions about “how” or “when.” He simply believed God. But he didn’t just believe with his mind. He believed with his actions. He sent the singers to the front of the battle and praised God for what He was about to do. With expectation, he watched to see how God would answer his prayer.
When we pray to God for help, many times He will answer us with specific instructions about what we should do. He does that by having the Holy Spirit bring Bible verses to our attention, giving us a knowing in our spirit, or speaking through other people and events. (Of course nothing God says will ever contradict anything in the Bible.) John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” When He answers our prayers, we must set our hearts and minds to believe God and act on whatever He tells us to do.
A Prayer That Changed Everything
King Jehoshaphat of Judah was facing forces that were much stronger than he could fight alone. A lot of us have faced or are facing that kind of battle today. And when those battles come, we can choose to panic, run, or fight in or own strength. Or we can choose to pray and to get others to pray with us. Praise God and admit that we need Him and can’t do it without Him. And believe Him and act on the guidance He gives us through the Holy Spirit. We must remember the lessons from Jehoshaphat. Then we can start to pray our own prayers that change everything.
Enjoy articles about evangelism? Try 9 Reasons God Doesn’t Hear Our Prayers. Or try A Testimony of Healing After a Prayer in Faith. Please subscribe to my blog via email on the upper right corner. Also, check out my YouTube channel where I read my blogs out loud and have a playlist of Hymns from my church.