“O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”—2 Chronicles 20:12
Imagine being responsible not only for your own fate, but also the fate of a nation. That’s the predicament Jehoshaphat found himself in when a great army was moving against the land of Judah. Filled with fear, he “set his face to seek the Lord” and called the people together to fast and pray for God’s mercy and protection. He prayed earnestly, confessing his sin and the sin of his people, reminding himself of God’s greatness and the covenant with His people. Jehoshaphat understood that he was no match for the overwhelming superiority of the invading armies. If there was to be deliverance, God would have to directly intervene.
This prayer of desperation was also accompanied with worship. “Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.” (v.18). Next, Jehoshaphat turned military strategy on its head by sending a choir ahead of his own army! Should we be surprised when we read, “And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed” (v.22).
There are lessons here for us when we are in a desperate place. First, God can use whatever means He wishes to deliver us; He can thwart armies and reverse whatever seems to be coming at us. He is never in need of ideas to deliver us. Second—and perhaps this is most important—God answers when we ask in faith, a faith fueled by worship. One of the best things we can do when we’re in a frightful place is to pause and give praise to God with singing and the affirmation of His promises. Desperate praying that is unaccompanied with praise is almost always a prayer of unbelief. Praise always captures God’s ear—and He responds.
Let Us Pray
Father, teach me to praise You at all times, particularly when I am confronted by my enemies. I have deep-seated fears within my soul about my future, my health, and especially about those whose greatest delight would be to witness my destruction. Lord, today I turn away from those fears to give You praise. Like the choir that led the armies of Judah into battle, I move forward with praise and gratitude for Your great name and the power of Your love.
I pray for _____ that they might develop the habit of giving You praise each morning; I pray that they might read the Psalms of praise, giving You their thanks and worship. Teach them even as You teach me, that when we don’t know what to do, praise is always the right response. Together let us quote the words of Jehoshaphat’s choir, “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever” (v.21). Let Your praise be continually on our lips.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.