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John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 38

*Seeking the Lord and obedience

“To obey is better than sacrifice.”

1 Samuel 15:22 NIV

Another passage in which the expression “Stand still” occurs reads thus: “Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea’….And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly…in the house of the Lord….Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel…and he said, ‘Listen…Thus says the Lord to you:

“Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude….Tomorrow go down against them….You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord’….So they rose early in the morning and went out….Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir…[and] they helped to destroy one another.” 2 Chronicles 20:2-23 NKJV

Such was the salvation that the children of Judah saw. They obeyed. They sang and praised the Lord. But how does all this prove that we ought not to wait for the grace of God in the means which He has ordained?

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this thirty-eighth lesson on prayer, Wesley chooses a scripture passage that connects obedience and singing praises with the salvation of the Lord in the time of battle. But notice that the scripture prefaces the singing and praising with a need to stand still and position yourself. Let us think about this a little deeper.

The key phrases for me in this lesson are “position yourselves” and “stand still.”

We often think of warfare, both natural and spiritual, as a time for action. But soldiers are taught, first, to obey orders. Why is this so? Because those in command often have a broader picture of the movement and buildup of enemy troops than those on the front lines. God knows the plans of the enemy far better than we do and listening to his directions and obeying his commands is the only position that will ensure our victory.

And oftentimes, God’s directions seem odd to us. Have you ever experienced a “Jericho” in your life? Did God direct you in a way that seemed as odd as what we read in Joshua 6:1-5?

1Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. 2 The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. 3 “You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4 “Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 “It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead” (NASB).

Israel’s conquest of the promised land could have ended at Jericho had they not obeyed God. They positioned themselves for victory by obedience to God’s direction. We likewise position ourselves for victory when we follow the Word of the Lord.

In Psalm 19:7-11, King David writes, “7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. 10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward” (NASB).  

Wesley ends his lesson from 2 Chronicles with, “Such was the salvation that the children of Judah saw. They obeyed. They sang and praised the Lord. But how does all this prove that we ought not to wait for the grace of God in the means which He has ordained?” One has only to suffer one defeat by not listening to God’s voice to answer that question. Remember, for the children of Israel, after Jericho came Ai.


Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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