21 Days of Prayer and Fasting: Day 15

Day 15: May 18, 2017: Under Attack

2 Chronicles 20:1-4: After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of Judah. Although Jehoshaphat got entangled in sinful foreign alliances (2 Chr. 18; 20:35-37), the overall evaluation of him in 2 Chronicles is very positive: he “sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments and not according to the practices of Israel” (17:4); he removed many of the locations of pagan worship from Judah (17:6); he sent officials and Levites throughout the cities and towns of Judah to instruct the people in the Law of the Lord (17:7-10); and he promoted God’s justice by reforming the judicial system in Judah (19:4-11).

The invasion into Judah by the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites which 2 Chronicles 20 describes is therefore not to be understood as God’s judgment upon Jehoshaphat and the people, but rather as an attack which gave them opportunity to exercise their faith in God.

Like Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, we too can suddenly find ourselves “under attack.” Severe health problems can assault us or our families. Job loss can threaten our financial security. Deceit and betrayal can lay waste to our marriages or friendships. Death can invade our lives and take people we love. Stress can confront us at work, at home, at school, and at church and constantly wear down our physical and emotional defenses. Sometimes the attack comes from more than one direction as difficulties seem to “unite” against us even as the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites united against Judah.

As followers of Jesus we are not exempt from the trials of life. Instead, the problems and sufferings which “attack” us are opportunities for us to actively and steadfastly trust God. When Jehoshaphat received the report that the invading armies were at hand his immediate response was not to organize his defensive forces but rather to lead Judah in calling upon God:

“Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”

Like Jehoshaphat we must respond to crises in our lives by “setting our faces to seek the Lord.” We must recognize that we are not the solutions to our own problems. We cannot plan or strategize our way out of hardship. In responding to the “attacks” which come our way, there may be a place for our planning and creative efforts, but they should not come first. Rather, our first response must be to cry out to God in prayer. Our first response must be to look to God and his strength, to cast ourselves upon his mercy, and to trust in him to deliver us.

Ultimately the battle we fight is not a physical or worldly one. The apostle Paul wrote that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Our battle is against the devil and the forces of evil. The physical, relational, and material difficulties we experience are manifestations of this deeper conflict (Job 1-2). In this conflict our human “weapons” of intelligence or strength are of little avail. In order to stand firm we need the divine armor (Eph. 6:10-20), and Paul wrote that prayer – communion with and dependence upon God – is essential for the fight: “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…” (Eph. 6:18).

Times of crisis are not times to show how tough we are. Rather, they are times through which God wants to reveal his own power and love. When we are “under attack” we can receive God’s power and love by setting our faces to seek the Lord, as Jehoshaphat did.

Take time now to cast your cares upon God and seek his face. This prayer can help you get started: “Heavenly Father, I know that my enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. But I also know that you are far greater than the devil, and so I trust you to help me stand firm during his attacks. I trust you to be my shield and my deliverer. Lord, I give every challenge which I am facing right now into your hands. I ask that you would reveal your power and love in my life for the glory of your name. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”

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