Thursday our church entered a period of 40 days of prayer and of fasting. Many are unable to commit to fasting more than a short period, some are unable to fast due to medical reasons, but all are committed to prayer and fasting as they can, to focus their hearts and minds on the Lord and His work. We are making specific requests for people we love that are facing battles, but they are not alone.
This combination of fasting and prayer is seen throughout the Bible. Today I was reminded of Jehoshapat’s story in 2 Chronicles’ twentieth chapter. Jehoshaphat had multiple armies coming to battle. He was reminded of what could happen by others around him.
And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. (2 Chronicles 20:3 KJV)
This is much as we are – we seek the Lord when we are afraid. At that point we are most aware of His power and His abilities. Jehoshaphat’s people responded. His people knew they would bear the brunt of the war and needed the Lord’s help.
And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. (2 Chronicles 20:4 KJV)
Jehoshaphat’s prayer doesn’t sound fearful. Instead, he questions God – not God’s power, not ability, but as a list of what God has done and can do.
And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? (2 Chronicles 20:6-7 KJV)
He lists God’s promise to Israel and tells of the mighty armies arrayed against Israel. Then, he enters His plea.
O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. (2 Chronicles 20:12 KJV)
Our eyes are upon thee. That’s the focus of prayer and fasting, turning our eyes upon the Lord. We know what Jehoshaphat knew. God rules. We trust his judgment is true, fair and will be applied according to His will. Not everything we request will come to pass within our timeframe. We do believe our answer will be the same as God’s to Jehoshaphat – do not be afraid, the battle is God’s.
And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's. (2 Chronicles 20:15 KJV)
Once we turn our requests over to Him, they are no longer ours. Do not take them back. We may not find our answers in the wilderness of Jeruel, but God’s answer stands.
Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. (2 Chronicles 20:17 KJV)
Bottom line? The LORD will be with you.