When Prayers Get Desperate

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“O our God, won’t You stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to You for help.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12

 

 

We’ve all been there. Somewhere along the line everybody experiences those desperate moments when we have run out of ideas. Whatever problem we are facing is far too big for us. There’s simply no way out, so now what?

 

 

Prayer comes to mind, of course, but how are we to pray? In times of distress, we could do worse than echo the prayer of Jehoshaphat when Judah was being invaded by the marauding Moabites. Jehoshaphat’s prayer is a model of trust, humility and hope.

 

 

First comes an acknowledgment of who God is. Next comes a reminder of what God has already done. Did you not by force and power bring your people into this land and place your temple in its midst? And finally comes the desperate plea. Will you not judge the Ammonites for their sins and save us from destruction?

 

 

If the words seem simple enough, it is the attitude behind the words that really counts. One can’t pray a desperate prayer without first confessing complete helplessness and total dependence. In a self-sufficient world, that’s not always easy to do. Nor is it easy to keep our eyes fixed on God in moments of crisis.

 

 

Oh, we may talk to God more when the situation is dire, but often we get so transfixed by our fear that we look away from God and focus on the apparent hopelessness of our situation. At times like that, we need to remember how God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer. “Take up your positions…do not be discouraged,” said God, “for the battle is not yours, but God’s!”

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