May 31, 2022
by Maria Fontaine
More on the story of Jehoshaphat
In one of my recent posts, entitled “Faith: Thanking God in Advance,” I told you how the story of Jehoshaphat has always meant a lot to me. If I didn’t remember anything else from it, I always remembered this part of the prayer that I often quote when I’m praying: “I know not what to do, but my eyes are on You.”1
I just love that verse, because it’s a wonderful example of the attitude we should have when praying in difficult situations. When we don’t know what to do or what will be the best choice or when we are facing overwhelming odds, we can place it all at the feet of Jesus and keep our eyes on Him, trusting that He will care for us and guide us.
Recently, I was thinking about the rest of this prayer that Jehoshaphat prayed as they desperately sought the Lord. I decided to take a closer look at the elements it was composed of. There are quite a few examples of important spiritual principles about how to survive when faced with calamity, and even how to thrive against all odds. It’s amazing how much God packed into such a brief story. Many millions of His children down through millennia, since this event took place, have been encouraged with this account when they have faced all kinds of troubles. No matter how serious their predicament, they could find strength and faith through Jehoshaphat’s story.
The Bible includes many stories that illustrate spiritual principles for us to learn from. While it’s unlikely that the specific circumstances and exact actions will always fit what we might face today, the spiritual principles are what we’re meant to understand and apply. Jesus said that He would send another, even the Holy Spirit, to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). That’s one of the wonderful things that the Holy Spirit does.
Here is an example of a spiritual principle in the story of Jehoshaphat. In their situation, they gathered many of the people of Judah together to fast and pray. The point is that they were giving God their full attention and waiting for Him to show them what to do. What matters is that our minds, hearts, and spirits are focused on Him (Isaiah 26:3). Whatever actions will help to put our hearts and spirits in that position will accomplish the same purpose. At times, fasting and prayer might be what Jesus will show us to do, but at other times He might lead us to other approaches, including times when He may even tell us to sit still as He sometimes did in the Bible. It’s the position of the heart that matters. As God told Samuel, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b).
Throughout the Bible, prayer is very important, but how we pray, when we pray, where we pray, or who we pray with will vary. That is also the case with having others pray for us. The important thing is that we follow what the Lord shows us to do in each situation.
Just as a brief recap of the events that Jehoshaphat was facing and what happened:
King Jehoshaphat of Judah was facing a coordinated attack from the armies of three neighboring countries. Their armies far outnumbered the army of Jehoshaphat, and it looked like Judah was facing destruction. Jehoshaphat gathered the people to fast and pray. He declared their absolute dependence on the Lord in a beautiful prayer, and as a result, the Lord caused the three armies of their enemies to instead begin fighting and destroying each other, and Judah was saved.
So, what can we take away from the miraculous events in the story of Jehoshaphat that can be relevant to us today? Quite a lot. First of all, when we are faced with difficulties, we need to honestly face reality, as Jehoshaphat did when he said: “We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do.” But it takes more than just acknowledging the problems and insurmountable troubles that we face. Ascertaining the dilemma should also be coupled with declaring where we place our hope for answers: “our eyes are upon You” (2 Chronicles 20:12).
When we feel worry, stress, tension, anger, despair, or other negative emotions welling up inside us, we can look to the example that Jehoshaphat set. The story says that he “set his face to seek the Lord.” Instead of continuing to worry, shake, or tremble, almost to the point of collapse, we need to stop and do what we know our dear Jesus wants us to do. It’s a deliberate choice that we have to make; we can continue to yield to fear or we can set our face to seek Him. If we make the decision to look to the Lord, we are not going to be concentrating on our problems and fears. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t being hit by fear, but as we have our minds stayed on Him, the fears can’t overcome us. Through the years I’ve heard many heroes, when others were praising their fearlessness, respond by saying that they were plenty afraid, too, but something inside them overwhelmed the fear and drove them forward.
Now look at the rest of the beautiful prayer that Jehoshaphat prayed. He recounts many of the times that God had been there for him and his people’s ancestors. It’s often good for us to recount the details of how great a Savior we have and to recall examples of how He has kept His children through so much. And don’t forget to add your own list of all that God has done for you personally as well.
O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you (2 Chronicles 20:6).
We can do like Jehoshaphat did. We can begin by declaring to the Lord how great He is, and how mighty, and how there’s none like Him, and that He alone can deliver us. God is pleased when we call to mind who He is and how there’s no one like Him, because it confirms our faith in Him in our own hearts and in the hearts of others who may hear us! These declarations reinforce our faith. The Lord always wants us to praise Him and thank Him for His might and power, even if there isn’t time in some cases to enumerate the specifics.
Then Jehoshaphat continues:
Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? (2 Chronicles 20:7).
Jehoshaphat is reminding the Lord that He has delivered them from their enemies in many ways in the past. He’s recalling the times that God was with His people. God never breaks His promises. What really strikes me here is that this was a prayer of reminder, not only to the people who Jehoshaphat was standing in front of, but to God as well. He was reminding God with phrases such as “Lord, You said” and “Lord, You promised.”
I’ve found that reminding God of all He has done and said in the past is an important factor in my prayers. Now, in reminding God of all the things He has done, we of course know that this isn’t because God has forgotten. God definitely has not forgotten, and He knows what we need. But God likes it when we articulate these things, because He’s happy when His people remember what He has done. He knows that when we hear these declarations, our faith increases, and we are giving Him the honor and the glory for His wonderful works.
I was thinking about how some people don’t like to use the term “reminding God.” Perhaps they feel that it might imply that God had somehow forgotten and had to be reminded. But I was praying about it, and the Lord showed me that all throughout my life, I have been reminding the Lord of His promises to me and to His people. This was not because He couldn’t remember those promises, but because in doing this, I was remembering them, and it was strengthening me! Praise the Lord!
Listen to these amazing promises our wonderful God has made to His children:
- “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”—Hebrews 10:23
- “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’”—Isaiah 41:13
- “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”—1 Corinthians 10:13
- “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”—1 John 4:4
- “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”—John 10:10
- “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”—Ephesians 6:18
- “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 8:35–39
- “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”—Isaiah 41:10
- “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”—2 Timothy 1:12
- “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”—Isaiah 26:3
- “And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”—Matthew 28:20
- “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”—John 14:16–18
1 2 Chronicles 20:12.