When faced with a hopeless situation, people will respond in a variety of ways. Some will be overcome with panic, some will turn to food or alcohol, and some will just “get busy.” For the most part, responding in any of these ways will not really fix anything.
As a general rule, any response that doesn’t include prayer is going to be inadequate. When faced with a crisis, turning to God in prayer should be one of the first things we do. Now, while I would expect any person of faith to agree with me on that, here’s where we may part company. When you are in a tight spot and everything looks dark, I recommend that you respond by praying in a very specific way. In times of crisis, I suggest that you begin your prayers by praising God!
Any response that doesn’t include prayer is going to be inadequate.
I know it sounds crazy, but let me explain. Although praising God in the storm is counterintuitive, the idea is based on solid, Biblical principles. One specific incident can be found in the Second Book of Chronicles.
When informed that Judah was about to be attacked by the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites, King Jehoshaphat was justifiably concerned. Instead of panicking, however, he very wisely “resolved to consult the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:3). As the people of Judah and Jerusalem joined him in the temple, the king turned to the Lord in prayer. He started by acknowledging God’s infinite power.
“LORD, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven, and do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand is power and might, and no one can withstand you.” (2 Chronicles 20:6)
It’s good to begin our prayers this way not because God needs to know that he’s all powerful, but because we need to know it! This is a great way to increase our confidence in the Lord’s ability to bring us through the storm. After expressing confidence in the mighty power of God, King Jesoshaphat then acknowledged that the people of Judah were powerless against the approaching enemy and were completely dependent on God.
“We are powerless before this vast multitude that is coming against us. We ourselves do not know what to do, so our eyes are turned toward you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
In order to humbly accept God’s help, we must first acknowledge our weakness. That’s exactly what the king is doing. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit came upon Jahaziel (a Levite who was in the crowd) and he proclaimed:
“Pay attention, all of Judah, inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat! The LORD says to you: Do not fear or be dismayed at the sight of this vast multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15)
Jahaziel went on to prophesy that the people would emerge victorious without even having to fight against their enemies. This is because the battle was not theirs, but God’s. We should feel the same way when we’re suddenly thrown into the storm through illness, job loss, or relationship problems. If God brings us to it, he will bring us through it. Recognizing that these situations are God’s battles is a real game changer. Why? Because God doesn’t lose battles!
Through the mouth of Jahaziel, the Lord told the people to go out the following day and meet the opposing armies with confidence. The battle had already been won! All they had to do was stand there. After hearing that news, Jehoshaphat and the people knelt down and worshipped the Lord. Some of the Levites stood up and sang the praises of God with loud voices.
The next morning, Jehoshaphat led the people out to face the enemy, as instructed by the Lord. As they were going out, he stopped and reminded them to have faith in God because they will succeed. He then did something which defied human logic, but was totally in line with God’s instructions:
He appointed some to sing to the LORD and some to praise the holy Splendor as it went forth at the head of the army. They sang: “Give thanks to the LORD, whose love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:21)
The king instructed the choir to go ahead of the army and sing the praises of God! What kind of crazy battle strategy is that? It’s the strategy of an army who realizes that this isn’t their battle. Acting in this manner showed that they placed their trust in God and not in their own power. Furthermore, they did this not because they were irresponsible, but because the Lord told them to. Can you guess what happened next?
At the moment they began their jubilant praise, the LORD laid an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and those of Mount Seir who were coming against Judah, so that they were defeated. (2 Chronicles 20:22)
As soon as the people started to praise God, the opposing armies turned on each other and they were defeated. Just as God promised, the people of Judah and Jerusalem were victorious without even having to fight! Even though the strategy proposed by the Lord seemed radical, the people obeyed and emerged victorious.
Over the course of your life, you will face many situations which seem hopeless. You may be facing one right now. During those times when danger looms on the horizon and the future looks dark, remember what happened with King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah and Jerusalem. They responded to the imminent crisis by praising the Lord and recognizing that the battle they were facing was not theirs, but his. Instead of allowing themselves to become overwhelmed by “what ifs,” they focused on the reality of God’s love and power.
I have seen this scenario play out many times in my own life and the Lord has come through every time. Even though I don’t always feel like praising him in the storm, I do it anyway. Almost immediately, my hope is restored and I can keep moving forward, knowing that the battle belongs to the Lord. Give it a try and see what happens. I’m confident that you’ll see the same results.