God never promised that life would always be convenient or comfortable. Nor did He say that we would avoid all danger, suffering, or loss. However, He did promise to be with us through whatever we face in life. And, in times of trouble, we each have a specific God-given duty: prayer.

First Pray to God

As believers, our first responsibility in any crisis, whether personal or global, is prayer. In 2 Chronicles 20:1-4, King Jehoshaphat demonstrates this when he learns of an imminent invasion of Judah from many enemies. In verse three, we find that "Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD; and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah." Of course, he was frightened by the news; however, Jehoshaphat did not concentrate on his feelings, but rather sought the Lord’s direction. Likewise, in these troubling times of terrorism and war, God desires that we, too, prayerfully seek His wisdom and guidance for our nation.

Not only should we respond to a crisis with prayer, we should respond with fervent prayer. Second Chronicles 20:6-12 is a wonderful example of a serious and impassioned prayer. Jehoshaphat did not simply mumble, "Lord, please help us," or "just bless our nation somehow." Instead, he actually stood before the people of Judah and cried out to God about their particular situation. When was the last time you felt so desperate that you forgot who was looking or listening, and unashamedly called out to the Lord? My friend, I can tell you that if you do this, your prayer life will take on an entirely different perspective—God’s perspective. We need to be specific and persistent in our praying.

Jehoshaphat also proclaimed a fast throughout the land. The people set aside their normal schedules in order to focus their attention on God. You might ask, "Well, what’s that got to do with prayer?" You see, when you fast, your mind gets clearer. When you begin to seek the Lord during this time, He will show you things that you may not sense at other times. Fasting—along with prayer—shows that we take our praying very seriously.

Focus on God’s Person and Power

In our prayer, it is also important that we focus on the Person and power of God. King Jehoshaphat does this in 2 Chronicles 20:6-12. He first exclaims, "O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? Are You not ruler over all the kingdoms and nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You" (2 Chron. 20:6). Jehoshaphat acknowledges the presence, might, and sovereignty of the Lord. We, too, should first concentrate on the many wonderful characteristics of God; for example, the fact that He is merciful, forgiving, always in control, and willing to intervene on behalf of His children.

In the next verse, Jehoshaphat also recalls the mighty things that God had done in the past (2 Chron. 20:7). This was another way that Judah’s king could praise God and remind the people of His faithfulness. Like Jehoshaphat, we need to focus our attention on the divine characteristics of our Lord.

Humble and Dependent on God

In addition, our prayers should be offered with a spirit of humility and total dependence upon God. Second Chronicles 20:9 describes Jehoshaphat’s declaration that if the people cry out to God in their distress, then He will hear and deliver them. In another verse, he declares that Judah is "powerless before this great multitude who are coming against [them]; nor do [they] know what to do, but [their] eyes are upon [God]" (2 Chron. 20:12).

Jehoshaphat shows humility by expressing Judah’s absolute dependence on God. They did not place their faith in the country’s army or leaders; instead, they relied completely on the Lord. Likewise, despite the great military forces of today, we cannot trust our own abilities, but must depend upon the almighty God. Though He may choose to use the military to accomplish His purposes, He alone ordains what happens during warfare. The important thing is that we do not attempt to proudly handle situations on our own, but rather humbly depend on God.

Confidence in God’s Presence and Sovereignty

We can also pray with confidence that God is always with us, and that He alone determines the outcome of the battle. The people of Judah learned this firsthand when the Lord spoke to them through a prophet in 2 Chronicles 20:14-19. In verse 15, he declares, "Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’" God responded to the prayers and fasting of His children, reassuring them that He was present and in control of the situation. God always hears and answers the prayers of believers who have repentant hearts and surrendered lives. Psalm 34:15 says, "The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry."

God not only hears us, He also carries out His sovereign will. Just like Judah, we do not know what may happen or what we should do at times; so, we must pray for the Lord’s will. How do we discover the will of God? Look in His Word. By reading the truths and promises of Scripture, and then concentrating on them in our prayers, we will know that we are praying for God to accomplish His perfect will.

Do Whatever the Lord Requires

When we pray, we should also be willing to do whatever the Lord requires of us. Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah are great examples of obedience to God. He told them not to fight, but to simply stand on the battlefield and witness the salvation of the Lord. No doubt, this seemed like a strange request; however, they obeyed Him, and the Lord saved Judah by destroying their enemies right before their eyes! (2 Chronicles 20:16-27) Following the directions of our Lord brings us a mighty victory, and also serves as a testimony to His sovereignty and providence.

Just as Jehoshaphat and Judah sought the Lord through fasting and prayer, we must seek the will of God during these troubling times. It is our duty to pray seriously for our nation, to fall on our knees and cry out to the Lord for His direction and guidance. When we pray to our heavenly Father, we should acknowledge the fact that He is the almighty God, with absolute control over everything that happens. Foremost, God desires that we surrender our pride, and prayerfully turn to Him with confidence that He will fulfill His perfect will for our good and for His glory. God is the only defense for a nation under attack; like Judah, it is time that we also "turn our attention to seek the LORD"(2 Chron. 20:4).

—Charles F. Stanley

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