Everything? Seriously? Who has that kind of time?
However, not praying may cost us more time in the long run. In the Old Testament, Joshua learned the hard way. Twice. Ouch.
Scenario 1: All’s well—or so we thought.
The Israelites had just come off a big win in Jericho. Woo-hoo! Big shout. Walls came down. Easy victory. The only casualties came in the form of blisters from the trek around the city. Next up? The small town of Ai. Joshua sent men to spy out the land.
“When they returned to Joshua, they said, ‘Not all the people will have to go up to Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there.’” Joshua 7:3 NIV
Joshua had a choice: check with his Commander-in-chief or follow the advice of his men. Ever been there? Tough choice when human counsel makes sense. Here’s what happened.
“So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gates as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the heart of the people melted and became like water.” Joshua 7:4-5
Uh-oh. Joshua suddenly found time for prayer. Joshua and the elders face-planted before God and asked the big question. Why?
God answered quickly. There was sin in the camp and Joshua needed to deal with it. God even sifted the twelve tribes to locate the guilty party. Sadly, this came after the deaths of thirty-six men. Fathers. Sons. Brothers. Husbands. Had Joshua prayed before the battle, God would have revealed the problem. The battle would have been postponed while Israel dealt with the sin that infected the camp.
Pray about everything, even when everything looks okay.
Scenario 2: We don’t have all the facts.
In the second scenario, a group of strangers approached the Israelites. They appeared to have traveled a long way and they wanted to make a covenant with Israel. Yet Israel was God’s instrument for judgment on the wicked peoples of Canaan and none were to be spared.
The travelers looked authentic. Worn clothing. Patched shoes. Dry bread.
“The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.” Joshua 9:14
Hmmm. Makes me wonder why they didn’t ask. God always has more information than we do.
“Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath. Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them.” Joshua 9:15-16
Oops. That didn’t go over well with the rest of the Israelites. They trusted their leaders to seek God. When Joshua and the elders failed to do so, the people grumbled.
Let’s not allow our leadership to take a hit because we didn’t take time to ask.
Both the asking and the answer take time—yet we gain the divine perspective and the truth, whether it’s hidden sin or the enemy in disguise.
Pray. About everything.
1. Share a time when you didn’t have all the information you needed, and it cost you.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 [emphasis mine]
2. Is time a factor in your decision of whether or not to pray? What pressures you to rush a decision? What are the pros and cons of waiting? As a family, practice being still and listening in prayer. Start by setting a timer. Develop a daily habit of waiting on God to answer.
3. Will God really answer? Does doubt haunt you?
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
What verses can you add to the ones above?
4. On your next store run, choose notebooks, journals, or even a whiteboard. Keep track of requests and answers. Date them.