The moment you began to pray, a command was given … for you are very precious to God. Dan 9:23 NLT
2 Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom,[b] from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
2 Chron 20:2-4
This is the opening to one of my favourite accounts in the Bible. How King Jehoshaphat of Judah is told enemy armies are advancing at pace. Their ranks hopelessly outnumbering Judah. We read that Jehoshaphat’s immediate response is to gather the people of Judah together. Where he cries out to God, “We … will cry out to you in our distress.”
The stark relevance of this passage to the current invasion of Ukraine is not lost on us. As I’ve re-read the passage this week, it’s also spoken into questions I’ve had since the news first broke. Questions of: how on earth do I pray? What do I pray? Will my little prayers make a difference? Maybe you’ve wondered those questions too.
In the Biblical narrative we see Jehoshaphat recognise the hopelessness of their situation. His response is to cry out to God on behalf of his people. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (v20)
When the day of battle came, we read that Jehoshaphat appointed men to lead out the army, singing praises to the Lord. He wanted them to praise the Lord because of his glory and holiness. These men marched out in front of the army, singing –
“Give thanks to the Lord.
His faithful love continues forever.” (v21)
So do my prayers make a difference? After reading the Bible passage again, I found myself hugely encouraged. Not only to pray, but to pray with boldness. And to remember that praise is vital in our battle prayers. I was reminded to ask the Holy Spirit how to pray when we don’t know how (Rom 8:26), and be attentive to how I sense the Holy Spirit lead me. To be specific, as we were in our prayers in last Sunday’s service. For me, I found myself praying for Angel Armies to bring their protection. For blessing and strength to the people of Russia, where we’re seeing reports of Russians defiantly standing against the attack. For Putin’s allies to abandon him, and his power to turn to dust – for this to be reported in the news. For peace and rest for the Ukrainian people. For God to be honoured, lifted high and glorified.
And I was reminded of another verse precious to me, which assures us of our authority to pray:
The moment you began praying, a command was given … for you are very precious to God. Dan 9:23
Even as the story is unfolding daily, and we can’t be certain of the outcomes, may we be encouraged to know that our prayers are vital. To add our voice to the many national prayer initiatives we’re being invited into. To know that we and our prayers are precious to God. As are the people of Ukraine and Russia, as we lift them up to him.
“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chron 20:2-4