I continue to rest and reflect on Jehoshaphat’s story from 2 Chronicles 19-20. These rich inspired words nourish my soul. I hope you’ve had a chance to read these chapters too.
Let’s recap a bit of Jehoshaphat’s journey. Scripture tells us that the Lord was with him. He sought the Lord and walked in God’s commandments. Jehoshaphat also lived with a courageous heart in the ways of the Lord and led his people to follow God. He appointed judges throughout Judah and gave instructions to administer justice in the fear of the Lord. Additionally, this devoted king challenged those in leadership to “deal courageously” (19:11).
Nevertheless, this courageous leader experienced fear when confronted with an impending battle. The multitude seemed overwhelming so Jehoshaphat focused on the Lord and declared a fast so that all in the country sought God’s help through their words and actions of fasting, prayer, and praise.
In the last Spigot I focused on fasting. Jehoshaphat’s call to fast was not to manipulate God but to align he and all of Judah with God’s will through submission. Their practice of fasting arose from a serious situation in which depending upon God proved the only solution. When we fast, we declare reliance upon God which leads us closer to our Savior. It propels us into Kingdom living and helps align the heart and mind with God bringing about transformation. Similarly, prayer and praise usher us into the presence of God and likewise aligns our soul with the Lover of our soul.
I find myself moved by Jehoshaphat’s prayer in verses 5-12 and wonder if it might be an example for us as we approach God in the midst of distress (2 Chron. 20). He called upon God by declaring the truth of the Lord’s identity and character. He remembered the ways God moved in the past. Jehoshaphat then proclaimed the ways he and Judah would respond by confessing their dependence upon and trust in God alone. Jehoshaphat closed his prayer by asking for justice and again, announcing his focus upon God in the uncertainty of the circumstances.
This acronym helps me remember Jehoshaphat’s prayer:
Proclaim God’s name
Recall God’s character
Acknowledge God’s faithfulness in the past
Yield control and state dependency in the distress
Entreat God’s intervention
Remember to trust in God alone
The Spirit of the Lord spoke through Jahaziel (a Levite) comfort, confidence, and commands for the people of Judah. Although these words were spoken directly to Jehoshaphat centuries ago, I experience great consolation through them today: “The battle is not for you to fight, take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them and the Lord will be with you” (vs. 17). These words established the focus in the right place: upon the Lord, not the circumstances. Just as God’s presence accompanied Jehoshaphat and Judah, His presence attends to each of us in the situations we face today.
What sort of battles confront you? How is God inviting you to take your position and stand still, trusting in the ways of God? Does your gaze need to lift to the Lord?
I love Jehoshaphat’s immediate response: praise. He believed the words spoken through Jahaziel and worshiped the Lord. The battle had not yet taken place, but this humble king “bowed down with his face to the ground, and all of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.” Had the situation changed? No, but the center of attention shifted from the “great multitude” to their great God.
When have you literally bowed down with your face to the ground worshiping the Lord?
Something mighty occurs within the soul when we align our bodies with our mind and heart. Try it – lay face down before God and sing a song of praise or recite a favorite Bible verse. Bow before the Lord: kneel, sit on your knees, lean forward with your tummy touching your thighs and forehead to the ground, with arms stretched out in front. In humble posture surrender praise and receive the blessing of God’s presence, peace, and power by the Holy Spirit within your soul. What do you notice?
The following morning Jehoshaphat followed the directions sent by God through Jahaziel. He pointed all his people to “believe in the Lord” and appointed some to “sing to the Lord and praise Him in holy splendor as they went before the army, saying ‘Give thanks to the Lord for His steadfast love endures forever.’” As they sang and praised God, the Lord set an ambush and the opposing armies were destroyed by one another. With Jehoshaphat at their head Judah rejoiced in the Lord. Gratitude to God and awe of His provision flowed in worship; praise became the powerful weapon of Judah.
As Judah praised the Lord, He routed the attacking multitude and they killed one another, no one escaped alive. Judah was saved and gathered the plunder left behind as provision from God. Praising God in the midst of distress seems an unlikely response and yet that is precisely what Jehoshaphat did. He praised God not knowing the outcome, believing the promise of God’s presence and protection.
Acknowledge distressing situations in your life. Shift your focus from the circumstances to the Creator of all things. Praise God.
Another acronym, but this time: Praise
Point to the goodness of God
Raise your voice
Acknowledge the truths and promises of God
Initiate a shifting of your focus
Sing of God’s faithfulness
Entrust the outcome to God
As I soak in Jehoshaphat’s journey I learn the importance of fasting, prayer, and praise. These spiritual practices created the foundation when he encountered an insurmountable multitude. Life offers many twists and turns: some expected, many unexpected. When I consistently engage in these spiritual habits my outlook and approach to the “multitudes” of life orient themselves under the presence and peace of God. I don’t practice fasting, prayer, and praise perfectly, but am reminded from Jehoshaphat’s story the importance of these spiritual disciplines in my journey with Jesus.
What about you? What would it look like to incorporate the rhythms of fasting, prayer, and praise into your daily living? Create a strong foundation with God so that when you encounter the expected and unexpected “multitudes” of life you can rightly place them under the presence of your powerful God and experience His peace.
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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
2 Chronicles 19-20 – Read Jehoshaphat’s story.
2 Chronicles 20:6-7 – O Lord, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you. Did you not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.
Andrew Murray, Revised by Harold J. Chadwick. With Christ in the School of Prayer. Gainsville, FL. 1999.
Arthur Bennett. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. Carlisle, PA. 1975.
Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.
Matt Maher. Lord, I Need You. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuvfMDhTyMA
Vertical Worship. Yes I Will. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrTv39-lG4M