Praying (Together) Through… A. PRAYING TOGETHER
Message 3 • Direction
Joshua J. Masters
April 03, 2022
Good morning, Brookwood.
Today we continue our series on becoming a praying church called, Praying (Together) Through…
And what are we praying for?
In the first message, we set our goal:
To seek God in a movement of prayer so we can see revival.
--And we prayed together through our division into unity with God and one another.
Last week, we discussed the tactics Satan uses to break that unity in the church.
--And we prayed through our disappointment and discouragement into trust for God’s plan.
But even when we trust God’s plan, how do we know the direction He wants us to go?
That’s what we’re going to talk about today—the practical steps we take in prayer to reveal God’s direction for us.
Now, when I say practical steps, that doesn’t mean these are just boxes to check.
No. Hearing God’s direction requires us to evaluate our hearts as we approach Him together in prayer.
Because, just as we talked about last week, our natural tendency is to be self-focused and try to be self-sufficient.
But we can’t be.
So, we become filled with uncertainty and fear.
And that prevents us from hearing God’s voice.
So,The church must pray (together) through UNCERTAINTY into CONFIDENCE.
Not confidence in ourselves, but confidence that God will move!
Think of the words we just sang:
“I am confident,
I will see the goodness of my God.
I will not forget who You are.”
In last week’s passage, Moses had forgotten who God is.
So, he had no confidence God would act.
That’s a danger we need to avoid.
Do we want to hear God’s direction for us?
Do we want to see God’s miracles and revival?
Then we must actively and confidently seek God’s direction for us.
We have to ask for His guidance and then EXPECT an answer—Expect to see His goodness.Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 (NLT)
But how do we clearly hear the answer?
How do we seek His direction and see His miracles?
That’s what we’ll look at today in 2 Chronicles, Chapter 20.
>>So, you can go ahead and turn or swipe there in your Bibles (pg. 369).This is Jehoshaphat’s Prayer for Direction.
Jehoshaphat was the fourth King of Judah after Israel split, and God’s people are about to be attacked by multiple armies.
The Moabites, Ammonites, and Mount Seir (say-eer) armies are all marching toward Jerusalem.
And when Jehoshaphat receives word that they’re coming, this enormous, combined army is only 15 miles away.
We pick up in verse 3.Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news… 2 Chronicles 20:3a (NLT)
Jehoshaphat was terrified.
This army is far too large for Judah to fight, and Jehoshaphat has no idea what to do.
Have you ever been in a situation where you just felt completely overwhelmed?
(Where every step seemed like the wrong step and there didn’t seem to be any way out)?
That’s where King Jehoshaphat is at.
But through his response to that fear, we’re going to see how we, together as a church, can seek God’s direction for the impossible.
So, what’s his approach?
Back to verse 3.[Jehoshaphat] begged the LORD for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the LORD’s help. Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the LORD. 2 Chronicles 20:3b–5 (NLT)
… and that’s where He prayed with them.B. We seek God’s direction and miracles by…
together in PRAYER
It says all the people of Judah came together to seek the Lord’s help and guidance.
This is exactly what we’ve been talking about in this series.
If we want to see God do the impossible, we must pray together, continually and in one voice.
But Jehoshaphat doesn’t just call his people together in prayer.
What else does he order?
This is not like intermittent fasting to lose weight.
It’s not a health tactic.
This fasting is an intentional devotion to God—a time set aside to abstain from food so we can better connect with Him.
Now, a lot of Christians today believe fasting is only for the super-spiritual.
But when Jesus taught on prayer and fasting in Matthew 6,
He said “WHEN you fast…”
Not, “If you want to fast,” or “if you decide to fast” but “When you fast.”
Jesus expected this to be a regular part of our relationship with Him. Every believer.
That’s because fasting is a form of worship that surrenders our desires and our bodies to God.
It puts His glory above our comfort.
It’s a sacrifice of worship that removes the distractions of this world and allows us to hear His voice.
And if we are to see revival, we must dedicate ourselves to prayer AND fasting.
I know there are lots of questions about Fasting.
--Why we fast.
--How to get started.
--What it should look like.
We can’t go as deep into those questions today as we need to.
So, I want to give you a resource.
It’s in your outline and we’ll put it up on the screen.
I’m encouraging all of us to visit: brookwoodchurch.org/fasting
That’s where you’ll find an article I put together on fasting as well as a 3-part podcast series the Care Pastors and I did together.
This page will walk you through everything you need to know to get started.
--Who will go to this site?
--Who will commit to fasting one day this week or even one meal to get started?
Scripture tells us we shouldn’t brag about our fasting, but it is helpful to do it in a group that will encourage you and share what they’re hearing from God during the fast.
So, I want to encourage our Community Groups to do this together.
You can use your Prayer and Discussion Guide to pray and fast together.
Let’s keep praying together and step into fasting together.
That’s the first step in hearing God’s direction for us.
And in those prayers and times of fasting, We seek God’s direction and miracles by…
God’s glory and PROMISES
.He prayed, “O LORD, God of our ancestors, You alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against You!” 2 Chronicles 20:6 (NLT)
Jehoshaphat opens the people in prayer by proclaiming the glory of God.
Remember, that army is not very far away.
But rather than launching into His need for direction or deliverance, he magnifies the name of God and honors who God is!
Verse 7:“O our God, did You not drive out those who lived in this land when Your people Israel arrived? And did You not give this land forever to the descendants of Your friend Abraham? Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor Your name. They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine, we can come to stand in Your presence before this Temple where Your name is honored. We can cry out to You to save us, and You will hear us and rescue us.’” 2 Chronicles 20:7–9 (NLT)
So, he not only proclaims God’s glory but also God’s promises.
Why? Because God’s faithfulness and promise to an undeserving people are testaments to His love, mercy, and power.
Celebrating God’s promises, even before they’re fulfilled, is a celebration of His character and shows our trust in His Word.Every prayer we utter, especially when we’re in trouble or need guidance, should be more focused on who God is than the actual problem
And there’s a temptation to say, “Well, that seems weird. God knows who He is.”
Of, course He does.
The question is, do you?
Do you know who God is?
Praying God’s greatness back to Him not only honors God,
But it helps us avoid becoming self-focused and falling into the traps we talked about last week.
Before God brought me to Brookwood (and there’s a lot of miraculous things about that I can tell you another time), I went through a period of preparation in the desert that was not pleasant.
I was pretty much in the same whiny, entitled place we saw Moses and the Israelites at last week.
It was super enjoyable for my wife, Gina.
I didn’t know why God wasn’t coming through (in my timeline).
I didn’t know what He wanted me to do.
I just wanted to make it happen.
So, I pushed and I complained and then I pushed some more.
But God made it clear He wasn’t going to open the path to His promise for me until having the promise was less important to me than having Him.
Because I had made an idol out of the promise.God loves to fulfill His promises, but He will withhold what He’s promised you if you want the outcome more than you want Him
So, in my self-focused ranting, I felt God leading me to is what I call a ME Fast.
I had to fast from ME.
For 40 days, I didn’t pray anything for myself. I only prayed back to God who He was. His attributes, His character, His great deeds, His promises.
It completely changed my perspective. And shortly after those 40 days, I was called to Brookwood Church.Some of us need a ME fast now
, because we’re so focused on what we want from God that we’ve forgotten who He is.
So, we pray and fast together.
And we proclaim God’s glory and promises together.
Now, here comes the hard part.We seek God’s direction and miracles by…
God will not do the impossible so long as we think we can do it in our own strength.
Does revival come through church programs? No.
Does it come through seminars? No.
Those things help equip us for what God asks us to do (and they’re good), but miracles only come when we stop believing we can make progress on our own.
Jehoshaphat’s prayer continues in verse 10: “And now see what the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir are doing. You would not let our ancestors invade those nations when Israel left Egypt, so they went around them and did not destroy them. Now see how they reward us! For they have come to throw us out of Your land, which You gave us as an inheritance. O our God, won’t You stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to You for help.” 2 Chronicles 20:10–12 (NLT)
After proclaiming God’s glory, now Jehoshaphat lays out the problem.
But rather than asking God, “How do I fix it.” He says, “I can’t fix it… we are powerless.”
Now, here’s what’s interesting: Jehoshaphat is the king of Judah.
And he’s yelling out to God in front of all His followers, “I am powerless! Only You can help us.”
A king doesn’t usually reveal that much uncertainty to his people.
But he’s humbling himself… why?
Because His desire for God’s intervention is more important to him than his pride
.Is your desire for God’s intervention in your life and in this church greater than your pride
Are you willing to admit you’re powerless?
We have a ministry called Celebrate Recovery (and the Landing for students) that helps people overcome stumbling blocks in their lives.
Not just addictions but whatever it is that prevents you from hearing God’s direction and fulfilling His purpose for your life.
And we use 8 Principles based on Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5.
Here’s the first one: Celebrate Recovery Principle One:
Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.“God blesses those who are poor [in spirit] and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”Matthew 5:3 (NLT)
Here’s another one. Romans 7:And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. Romans 7:18–19 (NLT)
Until we realize we’re powerless and our life is unmanageable without Him, we will never see healing in our lives, and we’ll never see miracles in our church.
God doesn’t want you trapped by your past or your present.
And neither do we.
That’s why we have Celebrate Recovery, and Transformation Prayer, and Connecting Points… not because those programs heal, but because they point us to the One who does… in community without judgement.
When we admit we’re powerless, that’s when we begin to hear God’s direction and see His victory.
And that’s exactly what happened when Jehoshaphat professed Judah’s powerlessness to God.
As all the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their wives and children, the Spirit of God began to speak through one of the men.
Verse 15:He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 (NLT)
Remember when we talked about discouragement last week?
We become discouraged when we forget the battle is HIS—not ours.
Some of us feel crushed under the weight of our lives
because we’ve taken a burden God has declared for Himself.
Verse 16:“Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!” 2 Chronicles 20:16–17 (NLT)
You march, I’ll fight.
You move forward, I’ll bring victory!When we admit we’re powerless in our lives (and as a church),
The Spirit will move, and we’ll experience HIS power.
His power and His victory are coming!
Do you believe that?
One of the ways we experience that power is in worship.We seek God’s direction and miracles by…
God with POWER-FILLED
Now, how is this different from our other fill-in about proclaiming His glory?
They’re connected, of course, but… Proclaiming God’s glory during a trial is about declaring His power.
Worshipping in a trial is about participating in it.
Watch how they experience God’s power in worship.
Verse 18:Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the LORD. Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout. 2 Chronicles 20:18–19 (NLT)
--Do we worship God with a mighty shout, or do we mumble under our breath?
--Does our worship proclaim His victory or our discontent?
--Do we only worship on Sunday or is it part of our daily lives?
The people of Judah are experiencing God’s power in worship.
Then they get up the next morning and go out into the wilderness where Jehoshaphat reminds them to believe and trust in the Lord.
For time, skip down to verse 21:After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising Him for His holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the LORD; His faithful love endures forever!” 2 Chronicles 20:21 (NLT)
Those lyrics are important, and we’ll get to that in a minute.
They’ve not even arrived at the battlefield.
They’re marching forward and praising God’s victory before it comes.
And what happens? Verse 22:At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the LORD caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped. 2 Chronicles 20:22–24 (NLT)
The very moment they began to sing and give praise, God took over the battle.
There is power in sincere worship.
So what battle are you trying to fight on your own?
What impossible situation needs to be sacrificed to God in worship?
What kind of victories and revival will we see at Brookwood when we:
--Pray and fast together, in one voice and purpose?
--Proclaim His glory and promises together?
--When we finally admit we’re powerless?
--And then worship Him with abandon?
Let’s pray God will guide us to that place.
Let’s pray He reveals His direction and path for Brookwood Church.
And let’s do that together now.
Just as we’ve done the last couple weeks, when I give you the signal, you’re going to stand up, turn to the people around you, and get into groups—whatever size you want.
If you see someone without a group, invite them into yours so no one is alone.
Then pray in your groups however you want, in whatever language you want.
Here’s our prayer prompts for today. Pray for these or however the Spirit leads you.GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD…
He is mighty, and His faithful love endures forever!PRAY GOD WILL…
• Reveal His direction and plan for Brookwood Church.
• Guide us to pray, fast, and glorify His name together.
• Guide us into power-filled worship as we rely on His victory.
Then I’ll come back after we pray.
We’re going to close a little differently this week, so don’t leave.
Ready? Go ahead and get in your groups.
And let’s pray together.
Thank you for praying.
As God’s people marched forward in God’s direction for them, expecting miracles, they sang these words:Give thanks to the LORD; His faithful love endures forever.2 Chronicles 20:21b (NLT)
--These are the same words David sang.
--They’re the same words that were sung as the Ark of the Covenant was carried in Jerusalem.
--They’re the same lyrics that were sung at the dedication of the Temple.
So, as we prepare to leave this room, marching into the future God has for this church, expecting God to bring revival and miracles, let’s sing those same words—and ask Him to show us His power.
Thank you for coming.