Tuesday, May 29, 2012

defensive prayer

And Asa cried to the LORD his God, "O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you."
2 Chronicles 14:11

King Asa's prayer is an interesting analysis of faith in action. The situation he faced helps bring understanding to the words of this prayer. Judah prospered under Asa. The nation was committed to the worship of the Lord and enjoyed a long period of peace. During that time, Asa was able to build up more towns in Judah to protect the countryside. But that prosperity did not go unnoticed. Eventually Ethiopia marched one million troops int battle. They intended to invade Jerusalem. That's where Asa's prayer began in earnest. Judah's army was outnumbered nearly 2 to 1, and in an age where warfare technology was limited to hand to hand combat, that was not a good ratio for defense. Asa rallied the troops and prayed to the Lord his God.

The first remarkable insight into this prayer comes in its personal nature. Asa worshiped God. And the Lord was his God in a personal sense. God was not just a national duty or a theological idea. God was the king's God. It only made sense to go to God in prayer. And that informs what Asa believed about God as demonstrated in this prayer.

Asa believed God was uniquely able to save "weak" Judah. He appealed to God to help Judah in the battle. He fully expected to fight in defense of the country. But he fully expected for Judah to rely on God as they entered into this battle. They were coming up against suicidal odds for the sake of God's name. They were defending not just their homeland, but their faith in this defense of Jerusalem. And that is part of the insight into this prayer. This was a defensive war, and not a display of aggression.

Asa knew that the covenant that God made with His people promised His presence in times like these. That is why the army defended Judah in God's name. And he knew Judah would see God's presence sustain them because God was their Savior. He prayed that men would not prevail against God (knowing this was not really possible). He trusted in the strength of God's power and in God's promises in the covenant. God did not disappoint. Israel routed a million man army to the very last man, and in the process, extended defensive positions. God answered prayer with provision. He made His name great among His people by saving.

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