Unexpected prayer warriors sometimes call for fire to the Lord in the Bible. The Old Testament routinely assesses each ruler of the northern Kingdom of leading the nation into sin, engaging in the sin of Jeroboam (who established two rival shrines for worship where his citizens could go rather than travel to Jerusalem in the southern kingdom of Israel), or worshiping Baal and other pagan gods. These unexpected prayer warriors remind me that God’s message can persuade the most hardened soul.
Jehoahaz (2 Kings 13:1-9) ruled Israel from Samaria. He followed his predecessors in worshiping at Jeroboam’s shrines. The author of 2 Kings says that God’s anger burned against Israel during the reign of Jehoahaz. Consequently, the kings of Aram overran Israel with their armies. Apparently many Israelites fled their homes and became displaced refugees. Israel’s once mighty army dwindled to “fifty horsemen, ten chariots and ten thousand foot soldiers” (2 Kings 13:7).
“Then Jehoahaz sought the Lord’s favor, and the Lord listened to him…The Lord provided a deliverer for Israel and they escaped from the power of Aram” (2 Kings 13:4,5).
Later in the chapter we read, “Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz. But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The prophet Elisha, a contemporary of Jehoahaz and his son Jehoash, played a role in Israel’s resurgence against Aram. We do not have text of Jehoahaz’s prayer. We know, however, despite his sin which continued after the prayer, God heard him because he was part of God’s covenant people.
Christians falter in their faith and faithfulness at times. Some even despair as to whether God will hear their call for help if they pray. God heard Jehoahaz’s prayer because the king was a member of God’s covenant people. He did not become a member of that people through the prayer. 2 Timothy 2:8-13 discusses the power of the Word of God through Christ for Christians and notes of Christ, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself”. Christ honors his covenant. In Revelation 3:20, he stands at the door of Christians and knocks, asking admittance.
The prayer of Jehoahaz and God’s answer teaches the people of God to trust God’s promises. Though we stray, he still loves us and cares for us. When under spiritual duress, we must remember that we do not have to fight the battle by ourselves. If we return to the Lord and call once more to him, he will hear us. Ultimately, Israel paid a severe price for their persistent obedience. God had demonstrated great patience and love, when in this case, he heard a cry for help from one of his people.
Help us to remember that you keep your promises even when we do not keep ours. Give us situational awareness so that we may avoid temptation. Hear our call in our hour of crisis. Help us to return. In Jesus’ name, Amen.