>I read a verse the other day that stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t so much that it was profound in and of itself, although it is a very powerful testimony of faithfulness and trust in our faithful God. What greatly stood out to me, though, was the relationship that was represented in this verse.
Many times in Israel’s history, God’s people were faced with overwhelming challenges. The patriarchs relied heavily on the help of the Lord. The children of Israel required divine intervention to not only escape from Egypt in the first place, but then to remain free once they departed. They needed Him to help them cross the Red Sea and then later to defeat the many armies of the pagan nations that stood between them and their inheritance. Sometimes the leaders of the Israelites had great trust in the Lord. Other times they were terrified and pleaded with the Lord for help. More often than not, their challenges were the direct result of their own sin and rejection of God, and they would come pleading in tears of sudden repentance, hoping that God would show mercy on them and come to their aid.
But the prayer of a certain king is one of the most profound prayers I’ve ever read. It is found in 2 Chronicles 14:11, and it goes like this…
“Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”
There are several things that stood out to me about this prayer. First, some background. The king who prayed this prayer was Asa, the great-grandson of Solomon. He, at this time, was whole-heartedly leading Judah to serve God. According to 14:6, there was peace in the land and no one was at war with him. So, up to this point he’d spent his time as king strengthening Judah and fortifying his kingdom against any enemies that might crop up. Sure enough, an enemy did finally appear. Zerah the Ethiopian amassed a huge army several times larger than Asa’s army and marched up to attack Asa.
Many times in Scripture, leaders seek the Lord before heading out to face their enemy. Asa didn’t do this. He just rounded up his army and headed out. It wasn’t that he was confident in his army. It was that he was confident in his God. He didn’t need to stop and approach the Lord in fear and trembling to beg Him to fight for His people. He knew God would! His relationship with the Lord was such that he was confident in the power and protection of his God.
Once Asa made it to the battle front and had drawn his army into battle formation, he prayed a simple prayer. There was no begging the Lord for help. There was a simple, “so help us, O Lord our God.” Pretty much it was an attitude that said, “This is your battle, God. We know we have to be here because You have created us as Your people, and when someone comes to attack us, we have to stand here in Your honor and in obedience to You. So, here we are. Now, we trust You to do what You have promised.” There is praise in the prayer. There is confidence in the prayer. There is a simple request for action.
What a way to seek the Lord’s hand of intervention! How many of us can be this bold and confident? I’m not saying we should have no fear. In a few more chapters we read of Jehoshaphat’s response to a similar attack by an enormous enemy force, and he’s downright scared! There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we do the right thing with that fear – take it before the Lord, just as Jehoshaphat did as he stood before the Lord and prayed another beautiful prayer in the presence of the people of Judah. So, the absence of fear is not what stood out to me in Asa’s prayer.
What stood out to me was the evidence of a continual relationship. Asa didn’t have to pull away from the business of ruling his nation to get before God and say, “Oh, whatever shall I do?!” He had the type of relationship with the Lord that he knew what to do. His relationship with the Lord allowed him to be confident of the intervention that would take place at the appropriate time. He also had the kind of relationship that reminded him that he did need to publicly seek the Lord’s intervention so that the result would be public acknowledgement and praise of the Lord’s strength, not his own army’s.
We are so very often faced with huge armies of our own. They seem overwhelming. Do we have confidence in our Lord? Do we have a relationship with Him that allows us to move right into the challenge, knowing He will protect us and fight for us? Do we have a relationship with Him that allows us to hear His voice, even as we are in the midst of the tensions of our daily lives? I want to approach those challenges as Asa did, bold, confident, and assured of the presence of my God. After all, “the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. (2 Chron 16:9)