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A call to fast and pray

“We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12b)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These are difficult times for all of us. From the weariness of the Pandemic to the heartbreak of our nation’s racial division it’s taken a toll on each of us, and we need our Lord more than ever, right now.

We need the Spirit of Jesus to guide and direct us in our decision-making, to lead us to deeper levels of love for each other, and to refresh and nourish our hearts and souls as only he can.

The verse that keeps coming back to me over and over again is the one quoted above in 2 Chronicles 20:12b, We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” It sure seems to fit our situation right now, doesn’t it?

The setting for this statement in scripture is really amazing. It’s an incredible story of God coming through for his people in their greatest hour of need.

The people of Judah have discovered that a vast army of Moabites and Ammonites is marching against them and will be arriving shortly. Judah’s response is immediate: “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.” (vs.3-4)

I love that the King’s first inclination was to “inquire of the Lord” and to “proclaim a fast”. And I love that God’s people wholeheartedly responded in faith: “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”

King Jehoshaphat then stood up before the people and led them in a powerful, faithful, and humble prayer of dependence on God. You can read it all in 2 Chronicles 20, but here’s the highlights:

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.” (vs. 7)

He then reminds God of his promise to them as his holy people to save them in times of calamity and distress: “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ (vs. 9)

He then tells God of the coming army and asks God to protect them from it: “…For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (vs. 12)

The scene is dramatic as an expectant silence then settles over the people, and they wait to hear from God: “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.” (vs. 13)

It’s not long before a Prophet breaks the silence. Here’s what he says:

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.

15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” (vs. 14-17)

Wow! How encouraging is that?!

They thought so too. Here’s how they responded:

“Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.” (vs. 18-19)

Brothers and sisters, this is how we need to respond to our God’s promises to us as well!

-We don’t need to be afraid or discouraged! For the battle is not ours, but God’s!

- We just need to stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give us!

- Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged!

-Let’s go out to face our challenges and the Lord will be with us!

-And let’s bow down with our faces to the ground today, fall down in worship

before the Lord, and then stand up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a

very loud voice!

Their day of prayer and fasting gave them great courage, and here’s what happens next:

“Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” (vs. 20)

Vs. 21-22 continue: “…Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,

for his love endures forever.”

22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”

They start singing, praising and thanking God – and God comes through for them! God defeats the invading army… because his people relied on HIM for the victory, not on themselves.

Brothers and sisters, take heart: we may not know what to do, but our eyes are on our God, and he will lead us to victory!

Do you believe that? Let the Lord know it today. And let’s watch our God come through for us – again.

A few specifics…

Pray whatever is on your heart, but please include:

-guidance for our Leader’s Group as we select a local Diversity Team here in Tampa

-greater awareness, empathy and closeness between our members of diverse color and backgrounds so that real change can occur in our interactions with each other that reflect an informed love that is deeper than ever before between us

-a “forged unity” between us, based on our primary identity as brothers and sisters in Christ; a new race of people who are the body of Christ in this world – the church (Ephesians 2)

-healing and real change for our country

-all the victims (and their families) of all the violence lately:

-from Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd

-to the police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty

-to the store owners whose businesses were destroyed in the riots

-and all who have suffered through this time

-our elected officials and community leaders to work toward change and peace

-and that all of the challenges of this year may turn people’s hearts to God and cause them to seek him – just as we are.

God has a plan, brothers and sisters. He is using all of the challenges of this year to bring about a revival of faith in our country and our world, perhaps like never before!

Remember what the Lord said to his people in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Keep praying for revival – in our church, in our country, and in our world!

And finally, a few specifics on fasting that may help you:

1) Some, for medical or other reasons, may not be able to fast from food. A great option would be to choose to fast from social media, television or some other activity.

2) Remember that fasting is not a way for us to impress or manipulate God, but rather a time to recognize our complete dependence on Him.

3) Predetermine the length of your fast and plan for how and when you will break the fast. You may choose to fast for 24 hours or for a set period of the day, such as dawn to dusk.

4) Be sure to stay hydrated -- water and juices are excellent for this. Avoid caffeine and lots of added sugar.

5) Plan for specific times of prayer through the day. Be careful not to fill up your day with activities that keep you from praying.

We love you, church.

Let’s do this.

Jeff and Ron

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