Sunday, October 30, 2016

First and Second Chronicles: the power of prayer

First and Second Chronicles are a brief retelling of the events which occur in 1 and 2 Kings. First Chronicles serves as a commentary on the events of 2 Samuel and emphasizes the religious history of Judah and Israel. Second Chronicles serves as the commentary for 1 and 2 Kings and highlights the importance of the temple and the religious revivals in Judah while the kingdom of Israel in ignored. As I read through these books, one thing stood out: prayer. In particular three prayers which are examples of how God can work in our lives if we ask him. With an honorable man named Jabez, we see the power of a simple prayer. With King David, we see a formula in which to pray. With King Asa, we see asking for the impossible in prayer can allow it to become possible.

Jabez is a man who is remembered for a simple prayer with a big impact. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” By asking God to bless him, Jabez was acknowledging God as the true center of his life and his work. When we pray for God’s blessings, as Jabez did, we need to pray that He take his rightful place as Lord of our homes, our workplace and our lives. The protection Jabez was asking for wasn’t just from the outside world which is full of evil and pain but also internally. The evil and pain which starts from within us in our motives, desires, thoughts and actions. This simple prayer is an example of what can happen when we recognize that God provides all. He provides the means for success, protection from harm and guidance in our lives. If we just ask him to.

David was known as a man of prayer. His prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:10-19 is an example of how we can pray. First, he opens his prayer with praise. In verse 10, he says, “Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.” Second, he recognizes God’s power and glory. He recognizes the God is powerful, majestic and splendor (verse 11). He acknowledges that everything comes from the Lord from their wealth to their honor (verse 12). Third, he prays for the people. In verse 18, David prays that God would “keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever” and “keep their hearts loyal” to Him. He also prays for his son, Solomon, the next king of Israel in verse 19, “And give my son, Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees.”  Wholehearted devotion is complete dedication to God. To serve God above all else. David’s prayer follows a simple formula: praise to God, recognize God’s power, and make our requests. When we praise God and recognize his power before we make our request, we acknowledge that God has the authority to grant our requests and everything we have comes from him.

Asa was a king up against the Cushite army. Knowing that his army had no chance against this army without the power of God, he calls out to Him. His prayer in 2 Chronicles 14:11 says, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, in your name, we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God, do not let man prevail against you.” The Lord provided the victory (verse 12). Asa uses a similar formula as King David. He praised God and acknowledged His power. Then he made his request. King Asa is an example of when facing battles that seem impossible, don’t give up. To paraphrase a common saying, when the going gets tough, the tough get praying. Asa knew he could not do it on his own. He need the power and glory of God behind every swing of his army’s swords. The secret of victory is first to admit the futility of unaided human effort and to trust God to do the rest. God’s power works best though those who recognize their limitations. It is those who think they are able do anything without God are the ones in the greatest danger.

In conclusion, it may seem too simple, prayer. Just ask and you can receive. However, prayer is the most powerful tool a believer has. Prayer is a direct connection to God. When we pray, we have the ear of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. We have the attention of the Father of Lights. When we pray, we have the power to do the impossible. Jabez asked for God’s blessings and protection in his life. And he received it. David asked for hearts of Israel to remain with God forever and that his son would be completely dedicated to serving Him. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen quite like that. Asa asked for God’s help with an unbeatable enemy and he got it. You may say, wait a minute. Two prayers were answered and one wasn’t. Well, that’s another post for another day. The point is all three men humbled themselves before the Lord and made their requests. They knew that only God had the power to fulfill their request and they left it all in God’s hands. Imagine what we could do we did the same.