Friday, August 07, 2009

The Prayer of Asa

Asa was one of the few kings in Judah who receives a generally favorable review by the writers of Scripture. According to 2 Chronicles 14:2, "Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD his God." He is praised by the Chronicler, in particular, for the fact that "he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves. And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment" (2 Chron 14:3-4). Asa oversaw a time of spiritual revival and reformation among his people.
Asa was soon challenged, however, on the international front. Zerah the Ethiopian came against him with a great host against him. On the eve of battle, Asa cries out to the Lord in prayer, saying:

LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in they name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee (2 Chron 14:11).

Here are five points to consider in determining how this prayer might serve as a model for how believers should pray:

1. It begins with an acknowledgement both of the Lord’s complete sovereignty and his utter awareness of all needs. As Isaiah said: "Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear" (59:1).

2. It recognizes that although God may use human means to accomplish his purposes, he is not dependent upon them. In fact, he often chooses to aid those who have no power precisely so that he alone might receive all glory. Consider the paring down of Gideon’s army in Judges 7:2: "The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me." Consider also the Lord’s comfort to the apostle Paul: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9).

3. It proceeds to a cry of help out of weakness and need ("help us, O LORD our God").

4. It confesses absolute rest and confidence in God in the face of the enemy ("for we rest in thee…").

5. It recalls that God has pledged himself to be our God and pleads with the Lord not to vindicate the one praying but the one prayed unto ("O LORD, thou art our God…").

The Chronicler proceeds to relate how the Lord was pleased to answer this prayer: "So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled" (2 Chron 14:12).

Let us learn from the prayer of Asa as we bring our petitions before him.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Note: Evangel article for 8/5/09.

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