This article was originally published in Edition (6) of Prayer Magazine,  Apr-Jun 2006.

We do not need to be reminded that as individual believers and indeed the Church at large we find ourselves in the midst of a battle that could determine the future of our nation and also the life and witness of the Church in Britain. This should not surprise us in that we are promised in Scripture that we are engaged in constant warfare against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in the high places! Nevertheless, there are forces abroad bent upon the destruction of our Christian testimony and witness.

There are two ways in which we can respond to this challenge; we can either retire into our safety first comfort zones of Church life, or we can mobilize ourselves and seek to be part of the great prayer army that God is building all over the world today. This great movement of prayer is being mobilized on two fronts; intercessory prayer, and dynamic mission and evangelism. Where these two great forces are working in harmony, the power of God is being witnessed and thousands are finding Christ as Saviour and Lord.

The events of recent months in the U.K. only serve to remind us that we are a nation in crisis. The threat of terrorism, divided opinion concerning Britain’s military role in nations such as Afghanistan and Iraq, Britain’s relationship with Europe, escalating crime rates etc., these are only but a few of the issues that face us as a nation at this present time. The question may well be asked; ‘How should the Church respond to these challenges’? The response must be positive! The Church must engage in numerous ways, but in particular in the whole area of prayer and intercession.

A NATION IN CRISIS:  2 CHRON. CH. 20:

In thinking about the situation we face at this time, my attention was drawn to the challenge faced by the Godly King Jehoshaphat of Judah. He had come to the throne of Judah in the wake of a season of protracted idolatry. Jehoshaphat  had led the nation into spiritual renewal by, for example, removing the altars of Baal. We read how that his kingdom was established and that his heart took great delight in the ways of the Lord. The Book of The Law was read throughout the land, and great fear came upon surrounding nations. However, in the midst of this, Jehoshaphat was attacked by three confederate armies; Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, and it seemed that the nation of Judah was on the brink of defeat. The narrative illustrates for us the absolute power and authority that prayer can bring to situations such as these.

1.   THE THREAT PERCEIVED: V. 2:   A GREAT MULTITUDE IS COMING AGAINST YOU….

This was not the time for political window dressing, Jehoshaphat and his people were being challenged by three armies, all of whom held long-standing grievances against Judah. This passage reminds us so very powerfully, of the warfare of the Church of Jesus Christ, how that at times we seem to face overwhelming odds. For us here in Britain we face concerted attempts to dismantle our Christian heritage and with that the freedom to proclaim the message of the gospel!

The first thing that Jehoshaphat had to do was to identify his enemy. In engaging in prayer and spiritual warfare, we must identify the enemy and have some understanding as to the strategy employed against us. We engage in battle for our communities, our towns and cities, our schools, our families, and indeed our nation!

2.   THE PREPARATION IMPLEMENTED:  V. 3:   JEHOSHAPHAT SET

HIMSELF TO SEEK THE LORD, AND PROCLAIMED A FAST THROUGHOUT JUDAH!

Victory would only come through God’s intervention and power. We face issues in our nation, in our communities, our churches, and indeed in our families that can only be resolved by God’s mighty power. This intervention will only come as God’s people come before Him and cry to Him as never before. We must be alert concerning the nature of the threat that is facing our land. Jehoshaphat faced three armies; we as the Church face many, but let me list three:-

            A).  100,000 children a year run away from broken homes:-

                   Source:- The Children’s Society.

 

            B).  The U.K. has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe:-

                   Source:-  Social Trends 33, Office of National Statistics.

 

            C).  Sex scenes on British Television have increased by 300% in

                   The last 5 years:-

                   Source:-  ITC and BBC/Media Watch U.K.

 

This is but a small part of the challenge presented to the Church in Britain today!

HOW DID JEHOSHAPHAT RESPOND?:  V. 4 and 13:  We read that all of Judah gathered themselves together to ask help of the Lord:-

EVEN OUT OF ALL THE CITIES THEY CAME TO SEEK THE LORD!

The nation was mobilised to become a mighty prayer movement. We read that ‘All Judah’, with their little ones, their wives, and their children came before the Lord. The need was so great that whole families came to seek the face of God calling upon Him to save them from their enemies.

ARE THERE PRINCIPLES WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS?:  For too long the prayer programme in so many of our Churches has been the preserve of the elderly. We thank God for them, in many cases there would be no prayer life were it not for their faithful praying. Thank God this is changing! The good news is that thousands of young people and children are joining this great prayer army that God is building today. The 24/7 prayer initiative and indeed all of the major national prayer gatherings are strongly supported by young people. We are seeing a repeat of the response in Jehoshaphat’s day, prayer is being undertaken by all ages.

THE PRAYER OF JEHOSHAPHAT: V. 5 – 12:  It was a strategic prayer and focussed upon clearly defined areas. It was what could be termed as a ‘Model Prayer’:-

 

            HISTORY:     He prayed to the God of their fathers.

 

            SALVATION: He acknowledged that the land now threatened was a

                                    Divine gift.

 

            HUMILITY:     He was turning to God in a time of need.

 

            STRATEGY:  He was dealing with an enemy who had previously

                                    opposed the people of God.

 

            DEPENDANCY: An admittance of Judah’s utter dependence upon

                                          God.

 

            PASSION:     We have no power against this great multitude….But

                                    our eyes are upon You:- v. 12.

 

  1. THE VICTORY GAINED:  V. 14-15: PRAYER AND THE PROPHETIC:

As the people cried to God, the Spirit of the Lord came amongst them giving Divine direction. Intercessory prayer will very often provide the platform for the Prophetic. We read here how that the Spirit came upon Jahaziel in the midst of the gathering declaring the battle to be God’s and not theirs. They were instructed to stand still and to see the salvation of the Lord, they were not to be overcome by fear, for God would be with them!

HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TODAY?:  It is a most thrilling experience to stand in the midst of praying people as the Spirit of God begins to speak through the Prophetic Word. The manifestation of the Prophetic very often serves to confirm that our prayers are in tune with the heart of God and that He is responding to the petitions of His people. The power of the Prophetic so very often works in tandem with the anointed preaching of the Word of God and with the fervent and passionate worship flowing from the lips of the gathered company.

There were four key factors that brought victory to Jehoshaphat and his people, and they are major components in our arsenal of weaponry we employ to meet the challenge of the day:-

PREVAILING PRAYER

POWERFUL DECLARATION OF THE WORD OF GOD

ANOINTED WORSHIP

THE MANIFESTATION OF THE PROPHETIC!

 

PRAYER AND PROPHETIC WORSHIP: V. 21:  The Spirit of God instructed King Jehoshaphat to appoint an army of singers who would lead the people into battle:-

            ‘PRAISE THE LORD, FOR HIS MERCY ENDURES FOR EVER’.

As the people sang, the Lord sent ambushes against the three armies who sought to attack Judah. They turned upon each other, and in a state of confusion began to fight each other!

In closing, I would encourage all who read this article not only to be part of the prayer strategy of the Local Church, but also to seek to be part of the great prayer army that God is building locally, nationally, and globally.

DO NOT BE AFRAID NOR BE DISMAYED BECAUSE OF THIS GREAT MULTITUDE, FOR THE BATTLE IS NOT YOUR’S, BUT GOD’S!

Keep praying.

Alistair Cole

3 Social Issues listed in the article are derived from the State of the Nation Paper produced by Denis Wrigley of the Maranatha Community.

 

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