Written by Paul J Bucknell on August, 25, 2022
2 Chronicles 20:1-2 (1) Introduction, Six Prayer Observations
Introduction of 2 Chronicles 20
Prayer is often a hidden part of life. Jesus directed His disciples to go into a closet to pray privately (Mat 6:6). We also see powerful, joint prayer meetings held by the early church. Were they blatantly disobedient to Jesus, or did Jesus’ words apply to a different situation? I think the latter, where the person praying in public sought accolades from others through their prayers (Matthew 6:1).
Recognition for lengthy, spiritual, or eloquent prayers should not be our motivation for prayer. Whether we are a leader in the church or not, we can all default to fleshly religion if not careful. This situation occurs when we pray with ulterior motives.
Those who have an unhealthy relationship with God cannot produce genuine prayers. When a person or a church, for that matter, becomes sincerely concerned for God’s will to be done, the focus will be on God’s will: bringing God’s kingdom to earth, not on their own needs. There is not enough love, joy, and kindness around us. We desperately need to pray for God’s kingdom to advance.
Many people try to be spiritual but are not clear on how to get there. The Bible helps us on two major fronts.
(1) First, and most importantly, God helps us get into the proper relationship with Him that enables us to pray. Even if we know much about praying, when, how, why, motives, etc., we first need a real relationship with God. Just like without a network connection, one cannot receive incoming information from the web, so without having a relationship with God, there is no way we can properly pray. They are spiritually dead (1 Cor 2:14).
Many religious people pray, even those of other major religions. But this is all to no avail without a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Some religions copy the Christian methods, but this is ineffective. Paul says, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:11). Salvation gives us access to the Father in Heaven.
(2) Second, the Lord who understands everything helps us maintain a good speaking relationship with Him. There is much that can interfere with prayer. When my network went down the other day, I couldn’t figure out how to get it properly back up. I had to call a tech advisor who understood the network. It would not have helped to call the nearby restaurant or an insurance agent. Since God has set up the spiritual network, it would be foolish to go elsewhere to get the information we need to maintain its proper operation since He is always free and available. Jesus is our High Priest, presenting us before God (1 John 2:1-2).
By examining the prayers of others, such as this one in 2 Chronicles 20, and observing God’s interpretation of what happened, we can clarify the picture of how prayer works. We will not focus much on the initial relationship with God, but presume it is there. Although we step back into ancient times, these are the people of God. They already have forgiveness from God and have entered into a covenant with Him.
But having said this, we have a lot to learn about prayer. Some questions we might ask are, “Why does God want us to pray?” “When should I pray?” “How should I pray?” “How does faith play a part in prayer?”
Some of these Old Testament stories are thoroughly fresh and stimulating. We are busily involved in our way of life, writing papers, rushing off to work, doing research, caring for children, etc. God uses these old accounts to breathe new life into our stagnant state. He is very interested in our prayers because it is our primary communication line with Him. Let’s now turn to 2 Chronicles 20 and observe six things we can learn about prayer.
1) The Urgent Need for Prayer (2 Chronicles 20:1-2)
Difficulties lead us back to God.
Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi) (2 Chronicles 2:1-2). (NASB and later)
God uses difficult situations to draw His people closer. Satan uses the same circumstances to turn us away from God. If we pay close attention when reading our Bibles, we will see this same situation repeatedly occurs. This lesson directly impacts our lives. You are not a strong believer until you master it. Why? Without its given discernment, Satan will ensnare you.
Consider this situation. Here we have some old and formidable enemies that rose up against Jehoshaphat. Who were these enemies? Interestingly, all three enemy tribes were actually distant relatives that God told them not to fight against when Israel first entered the Promised Land well over 500 years before. Edom is another name for Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. The Moabites and Ammonites descended from Lot, Abraham’s nephew.
Both daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites. The younger daughter also bore a son by her father Lot, and called him Ben-ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites. (Gen 19:36-38)
Sin brings judgment into our lives and communities, but God is patient despite our sin. He gave them plenty of time to repent, but now, God judged them. God was angry with their ways, having God’s truth but rejecting it. This is much like the dying churches around us. They have the promise of victory because they possess God’s promises. But in time, they rejected the truth, bringing God’s judgment.
In this account, the threat becomes the means to grow one’s trust in God. It was a time when they were going to see God’s remarkable victory. “Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world!” (1 John 4:4)
Threats intimidate us. Notice a few phrases. “They came to make war against Jehoshaphat.” The evil one will try to interrupt God’s work. Another phrase from these early verses is the report he heard. “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Edom and behold, they are in Hazaaon-tamar” (2 Chr 2:2).
A strategic part of these threats is their timing. Coincidence has no strategist moving the pieces. Perhaps Hezekiah could have handled one of these enemies, but having them attack simultaneously, Judah was ambushed from various directions. (Actually, these circumstances are better than the ones where we conclude that we can handle the situation and never call upon the Lord for help.) Here, however, we find that there is no chance for a chance to happen! They had to call upon the Lord. Too bad we only call upon the Lord when we consider something precious threatened. What if we called upon Him in the same way for other noble purposes?
Application: Have you ever encountered such a great foe that overwhelmed you? Of course, this is a nation, so it happened nationally. For us, it will be something that equally causes alarm, for which we can’t find an easy solution. I assure you, it is time to call upon the Lord. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what the situation is. It might be something unexpected or something that has been going on. Your marriage might face some critical problems, or your eyes hang out in front of immoral scenes. Get desperate not only for yourself, but also for others. Any need becomes a special occasion through which we can watch the glorious hand of God at work. We face too many failing efforts from man; let’s turn our eyes to the Lord.
“Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world!” (1 John 4:4)
2 Chronicles 20:1-30 Six Prayer Observations
Paul J. Bucknell