Sent:  July 18, 2002

Subject:  Stop Praying!

Good Morning Ethan & Emily:

Are you surprised by the title of this morning’s devotion?  It is a dramatic statement but one that can have application to our Christian lives.  In the 6th and 7th chapters of Joshua, we read about the Israelites’ entry into the land of Canaan and their conquest of Jericho.  From this initial victory, they next met defeat at the hands of the enemy…a stunning disappointment…since God had led them to this place and had promised victory for their obedience.

Joshua, who had become the Israelite’s leader upon the death of Moses, was so distressed that he “tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening…” crying out to God and questioning Him as to why He had brought them safely over the Jordan River only to face defeat at the hands of the enemy. (Joshua 7: 6 – 9)

In response, the Lord said to him:  “Stand up!  What are you doing down on your face?  Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep….I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.”  (Joshua 7: 10 – 12)

To his credit, Joshua and the other leaders took swift action to find the evil in their midst, and did some immediate “housecleaning.”  They found that Achen, from the tribe of Judah, had taken some of the spoils from the battle of Jericho…in direct violation of what God had commanded.  Achen paid for this sin with his life, and it gave notice to all that God was serious about disobedience.

With this taken care of, the Lord said to Joshua:  “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack…For I have delivered into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.”  
(Joshua 8: 1)

The lesson we can learn from this is that when we find ourselves “defeated” by life or set back by some experience, we should definitely pray for God’s wisdom and assistance…but there is also a time to stop praying for God’s help…and start confessing any sin that may be in our life that is dishonoring to God and then take immediate action to get rid of it.  With confession and restoration of our relationship with the Lord,  God will bless us and once again fight our battles for us.  Trials and difficulties are not always caused by sin, but it never hurts to do a “house inspection” periodically.

Since God alone determines the outcome of any and all conflicts we might face, we definitely want Him on our side.  Solomon was well aware of this fact when he stated:  “The horses are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.”  (Proverbs 21: 31)   Later in Old Testament history, Amaziah, King of Judah, learned this truth for himself when he was warned by a “man of God” against using soldiers from the northern kingdom of Israel because the Lord was not with them:  “If you let them go with your troops into battle, you will be defeated no matter how well you fight.  God will overthrow you, for He has the power to help or to frustrate.”  (2 Chronicles 25: 8) 

We all want to live “victorious” and overcoming lives characterized by having God’s blessing.  So, even though we are always welcome to come to God in prayer asking for His help…let us also be aware that restoration of His blessing may not come until we stop praying for help and start taking action to rid our lives of any hidden sin.  In short:  STOP Praying and START Housecleaning!

Never forget…A life that is lived with an attitude of repentance and obedience is the best prayer of all!

Have a great day.