In 2 Chronicles 14 we read of King Asa. The Bible says that King Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord. He took down the idols and directed people’s attention to God.
When a huge army of a million men marched up against King Asa, he knew he had no chance on his own and he prayed. Only one verse of scripture. Three sentences…
2 Chron. 14:11 Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”
God heard Asa’s prayer and he struck down the enemy army, and the Bible says, “The terror of the LORD had fallen upon” Asa’s enemies.
God gave his people an amazing victory. God did what only God could do and Asa praised God.
Twenty-six years later, a different army marched against Asa. It was a smaller army. And Asa had a plan. Rather than pray, he made a deal with a pagan king to help him out. He took gold from the temple, and the palace gave it to this king and entered into a treaty with him. The foreign king would attack Asa’s enemy, drawing the enemy’s army away from Asa, and then Asa would attack his enemy’s weakened border.
It was strategically brilliant…and Asa won…or so it seemed.
Soon afterward, the prophet Hanani came to Asa and reminded him of the victory God had given him years earlier.
The prophet went on to say that God wanted to give Asa an even greater victory (a victory over his current enemy and the pagan king with whom Asa had allied himself) but Asa stopped trusting God.
The prophet continued in 2 Chron. 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You (Asa) have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.
How did the King respond? He threw the prophet into prison. He started brutally oppressing some of the people…and he never prayed again…he was later afflicted with a serious illness and still would not seek the Lord for help…then he died…
Why the change? Asa was a good and godly king; he prayed when faced with a huge, overwhelming enemy and then, later, refused to call on the name of the Lord. Why?
Notice the prayer he offered in 2 Chron. 14:11 “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”
Asa’s prayer was a prayer of dependence on God. He was powerless and the enemy was mighty. He needed to rely on the Lord and fight in God’s name…
Later in his reign, Asa was feeling strong. He wasn’t feeling powerless. His enemy didn’t seem all that dangerous. He didn’t need to fight in the Lord’s name; he had his own banner to fight under. Plus, he had enough of the Lord’s money to buy the alliance of a pagan king. He could have had a great victory but his self-sufficiency and lack of prayer led to his ultimate defeat.
Intuitively, we know to pray when things are going badly. But do we know to pray when things are going well? Do we think to seek God even when we believe we can “handle” any situation that arises? Asa’s prayer in 2 Chron. 14:11 must be on our lips in both times of fear and in times of confidence.