Elwood First Church of the Nazarene
Sunday June 26th, 2022 Pastor Matt Mehlhoff

“The Valley of Praise: Prayer in Desperate Times”

2 Chronicles 20

What are some “Christian cuss words” that you use? 

A favorite expression to denote surprise was “Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!”

Ironically, Jehoshaphat isn’t known for jumping at all, but instead for “standing still,” but more on that later. (20:17)

In this story, we will witness Jehoshaphat’s dilemma and his prayer emphasizing: The Character of God, The Faithful Track Record of God, Our Posture Toward God, and The Power of God. Then we want to learn to pray in our desperation as Jehoshaphat did. 

2 Chronicles 20:1-4ESV

The King is sufficiently alarmed that not only does he turn to prayer, but he proclaims a fast for the whole nation.

First, when the unthinkable is happening, Jehoshaphat resolved to pray. In the face of devastating news, Jehoshaphat didn’t flinch, instead, he went directly to prayer.

Perhaps this seems overly simplistic, but prayer gives the believer access to our faithful God. Imagine the power of that statement.

Second, Jehoshaphat’s prayer took a distinctive shape.

A. His prayer begins by reciting the character of God. 

2 Chronicles 20:6ESV

He celebrates and praises God for who God is, but at the same time, he strengthens his faith and that of his people. 

Next in Jehoshaphat’s prayer, he continues by tracing God’s faithful track record.

2 Chronicles 20:7-8ESV

Remembering the ways that God has delivered in the past is a powerful faith-building tool for desperate times.

Next, Jehoshaphat lays out his request.

2 Chronicles 20:9ESV

There is no false bravado to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. There isn’t a shred of self-reliance here. Jehoshaphat cries out to God for help in the face of a desperate situation.

Finally, to finish up Jehoshaphat’s prayer model, the king prays with humility.

2 Chronicles 20:12a “…For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us.”

In essence, he prays, “God, we cannot do this alone!”

And then, King Jehoshaphat utters the words that are the basis of all prayer.

2 Chronicles 20:12b “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

At this moment the king captures the very heart of our utter reliance on God. The circumstances of life are often overwhelming.

When the king prays like this, the people follow suit.

2 Chronicles 20:13ESV

All of them assembled, desperate for deliverance, praying along with their leader, and waiting for God’s answer.

There is so much here to imitate.

In 2 Chronicles, the period of waiting before the Lord is rewarded with the gift of the Spirit.

2 Chronicles 20:15 & 17ESV

God was going to answer the desperate prayer. 

What does Jesus want for us today? To pray like Jehoshaphat. 

When Jehoshaphat prayed: celebrating the character of God, retelling God’s faithful track record, making a specific request, and demonstrating humility God’s Spirit came and pointed the way forward!

Why am I supposed to pray as Jehoshaphat did? We can depend on God to send his Holy Spirit to help us.

How am I supposed to pray as Jehoshaphat did? By setting aside time to be in Jesus’s presence, pray, and worship.

2 Chronicles 20:18ESV

Worship is without question an appropriate response to the work of the Spirit.

2 Chronicles 20:22ESV

Jehoshaphat didn’t need to do any “Jumping” at all. He only needed to “stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord,” just as the Spirit had said. 

What situation has you desperate before the Lord? In what way do you need God to act? Let’s pray together for God’s Spirit to fall upon his people and show us the way forward once again.

Jehoshaphat was desperate for God to work. The armies that came against him were too great to defeat. The first thing Jehoshaphat does is go to God in prayer. He praises God for who He is and what He has done. He brings his request before God and does so with humility. In response, God’s Spirit comes with the answer to Jehoshaphat’s prayer. 

We are to pray as Jehoshaphat did. There are situations in our lives that are desperate. We need Jesus to work. When we come to Jesus in prayer, Holy Spirit helps us. The valleys can become valleys of praise. We are to come before Jesus and pray. What situation has you desperate before the Lord? In what way do you need God to act? Let’s pray together for God’s Spirit to fall upon his people and show us the way forward once again. Let’s pray. 

Ephesians 3:20-21ESV