‘Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat’ (Matthew 1:7-8)
Read: 2 Chronicles 14:1-2 and 16:1-14.
He did so much that was ‘good and right’ (2 Chronicles 14:2). Like when Judah was massively outnumbered by the Ethiopians, and fearing defeat, King Asa (or Asaph as it is sometimes translated) cried out in prayer. God answered powerfully with miraculous victory (2 Chronicles 14:11-12).
But Asa grew complacent. Perhaps ‘success’ went to his head. So, when the Israelites became aggressive, instead of praying, he plundered the Temple (the place of assured answer to prayer, see 1 Kings 8:27-30, 44-45). It was protection money, bribing Syria to deal with Judah’s neighbour, Israel. It was a proud human solution taken without prayerful consultation with heaven. Did it work? Initially yes, and that’s the deception because long term it led to war not peace, it led to rage and much cruelty. God was not pleased. ‘You relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God’ he spoke through the prophet Hanani (2 Chronicles 16:7).
This wasn’t an isolated incident. When Asa later became ill, his human-reliant-prayerlessness was evident again: ‘Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians.’ (2 Chronicles 16:12) It’s not that God can’t work through medics, of course he can, it’s that Asa relied on them without God.
Are we, are you, really so different? Do you enquire of the Lord about everything, or do you rely on yourself to work things out? Did you begin well in prayer like Asa but have since lost your way? Is prayer, finding out what God thinks about how you should live, a true priority for you? If so, how much quality time do you set aside to pray every day? If your life is ruled more by human wisdom than heavenly revelation, it’s time to confess your prayerlessness (rooted in reliance on yourself and others). God will hear you! He will forgive you! Strength is just a prayer away. ’For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.’ (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Thank you God for mercifully hearing prayers. Please forgive me for relying on myself and others rather than you. Forgive my prayerlessness. Forgive me for not seeking you in prayer, or for only seeking you when I’m desperate. It is wrong and offensive to your name. Thank you for taking away the guilt and shame of my sinful self-reliance. Teach me to pray, like you did the disciples. Make my first instinct to cry out to you, to seek your counsel. Help me to hear your voice. Empower me to do your will. Create in me a fully committed heart that I might know more of your strength working within me to do what is good and right. Amen.