Face problems first with prayer, not plans

In 2 Chronicles the twentieth chapter, the people of God once again find themselves facing war. Three different groups were coming to wage war against them.

I do not know of anyone who likes the idea of going to war. God’s people, the Israelites, were no different. As this group faced this difficult situation, they came together and pray. Their leader, Jehoshaphat, brought them together for a prayer meeting.

A prayer meeting is not most people’s response to this type of situation. The usual response is to sit down and devise a plan. We begin to ask questions like, “How are we going to fight back?”

Jehoshaphat shows his spiritual leadership skills in this moment. One might assume he would have brought his strong military personnel together to devise a plan of attack, but that’s not the approach he takes. In 2 Chronicles 20:6, he begins his prayer.

He starts his prayer by praising God. In my opinion this is a key element when in it comes to a person’s prayer life. As you praise God you are reminded of the good things he has done for you. This element of prayer, praise, helps you turn your focus from your circumstances to the one who can work in your circumstances. Praise is always a good way to start your prayers!

Another observation from this prayer of Jehoshaphat is that he expresses confidence in God. I would paraphrase verse 9 this way: No matter what happens, we know God will save us. In this moment the Israelites find themselves with their backs against the wall. Some individuals may fold as they lead in a moment like this, but not Jehoshaphat. This leader has called his people to prayer, and in this prayer he expresses his confidence in God. I believe it is important that Jehoshaphat’s followers hear their leader express his confidence in their God. In your prayer life, not only praise God, but also express your confidence in him!

My favorite part of this prayer is the ending. Jehoshaphat closes his prayer with these words, “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.” This is a beautiful reminder of whom our eyes need to be focused on.

The original language says, “for (or “indeed”) upon you (God) are our eyes.” I like the original language because it puts the focus more on God. Upon you, God, are our eyes.

When you feel powerless, focus on him. When you do not know what to do, fix your eyes on the Father. This focus helped the Israelites overcome their enemies. They won this battle not with weapons but by singing! As they focused on God they began to worship him.

True fervent prayer should always redirect our eyes from ourselves to the God who hears and answers our prayers. As you pray allow your focus to turn to him, the one who is faithful and just.

Josh Robertson is pastor of New Hope Church of the Nazarene in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.