- Curt Leonard
Based upon sermon “Revelations of a Prayerless Life” [1/2/22]
On Sunday we considered how a lack of prayer in our lives reveals certain values we have. In other words, prayerlessness reveals various spiritual illnesses present in our lives. We listed 9 possible things that this reveals such as an inflated view of ourselves, a diminished view of God’s character and a diminished view of sin and Satan among many others. When we have these things present in our lives we will tend to not pray, or not pray as often. That message was looking at this subject from a negative perspective. Let’s consider this from a positive perspective now. What does prayerfulness reveal?
If you or another person is prayerful, what does this reveal about your values and heart?
A great example of what prayerfulness reveals is found in King Jehoshaphat, king of the southern Kingdom of Judah, after the days of David and Solomon. Jehoshaphat’s prayer and his desire to pray reveals so much about his values as well. Read 2 Chron 20:1-30.
In this section we see his daunting situation (vv. 1-4), his prayer (vv. 5-12) and then the results of his prayer (vv. 13-30).
The situation that prompted Jehoshaphat’s humble prayer (20:1-4) was the massive number of enemies at his border (Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites)!
How do we know that this was a very serious danger for Judah? (consider 20:3-4)
What does this suggest about how Jehoshaphat viewed himself and his current situation?
He sees himself as weak, unable to defend himself and unable to win this battle. He does not think he can defend his nation and the land.
Now as we read his prayer let’s look carefully at what this prayer reveals about his heart.
What does Jehoshaphat’s prayer reveal about how he sees God (20:5-6)?
How does this help him to pray? How would seeing God like this encourage you to pray?
Next Jehoshaphat recounts God’s favor on giving Israel the land (20:7-8), reminds Him of the promise God made to hear prayers of Israel when they are in trouble (20:8-9) and finally talks about the people coming to invade them (20:10-12a).
Why does he talk about all those things in prayer? What is he trying to do?
Clearly, Jehoshaphat believes that these reasons express why God should answer his prayer. Jehoshaphat believes that these appeals will encourage an answer from God precisely because He believes God’s character is great and good. He knows and is banking on God’s character of goodness, justice and faithfulness to His promises. Otherwise, he would not even pray. This means that the reason why he prayed and pleaded for help is because he knew and believed in God’s greatness and goodness.
As Jehoshaphat closes his prayer, what does 20:12b (“For we are powerless against this great horde coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”) reveal about Jehoshaphat’s values in his heart?
We see in Jehoshaphat the values of humility, recognition of weakness, of inability. He sees himself as inherently weak, unable to cope and lacking the needed wisdom and insight to defend his country.
God mightily answers his prayer and routs the army entirely on his own. All the while Judah is having a worship service on the way to battle!
As a whole, when we evaluate Jehoshaphat’s situation and his prayer, we see values revealed that spurred him on to prayer! He views himself as needy and in trouble (a biblically correct view). He sees the dangerous and overwhelming task in front of him (a biblically correct view). And he knows and believes in God’s good character (a biblically correct view). All this prompted him to pray.
In this situation we see many of the same qualities that can prompt prayer in our lives. A proper view of ourselves, a proper view of our situation, and a high view of God’s character. To the extent that we have these things in our minds and hearts is the extent to which we will tend to turn to God in prayer. How do you see yourself and your situation? How do you see God? Consider these questions honestly.
Now, it is easier to see why he would be such a prayer warrior in this situation! Most of us, admittedly, do not have soldiers at our doors! But if we think about it, we find ourselves in similar situations today! We may not have Ammonites in our neighborhoods, but the same reasons that Jehoshaphat had for praying still exist for you and me today. This morning, and every morning, we encounter serious enemies, overwhelming and dangerous tasks before us, and we still have a great God able to help.
Look at the following verses and write down the enemies we encounter and the serious nature of the threat we face today:
1. Eph 6:10-12
2. Eph 4:14
3. 1 Peter 2:11
4. 2 Cor 11:3
5. Mark 13:13
Now write down the demanding tasks that each of us are called to do as believers in Christ:
1. Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8
2. Matt 5:13-16
What are the aspects of God’s character and His promises that we see in each of the passages?
1. Matt 6:7-8
3. Lk 18:1-8
4. Ps 34:10; 84:11
5. Heb 4:14-16
6. Jn 16:26-27
What other aspects of God’s good character would help prompt you to pray?
Like Jehoshaphat’s situation we are in much the same situation today. We are people in need of help, facing daunting tasks, surrounded by powerful enemies. But we also have our incredible God standing for us. We can rightly look around and say, “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 Chron 20:12).
May God grant you grace to see yourself, your situation, and His character accurately. He is our only hope. Now, brother and sister, if you have seen these things, go to him gladly in prayer!