On several occasions I have highlighted the prayers of leaders recorded in the Bible. Often, they have been the prayers of King David. That is because he penned so many of the Psalms. But today I want to focus on the recorded prayer of King Asa.
Following the reign of Solomon, Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms, Israel and Judah. The son of Solomon, Rehoboam, reigned in Judah for 17 years and was seceded by his son, Abijah. Abijah reigned for 3 years and was seceded by his son, Asa. 2 Chronicles 14:2 tells us that, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” This is remarkable because it was not always true of the kings of Judah and it was never true for any of the kings of Israel. But Asa was diligent to rid Judah of idolatry and point his nation back to the one true God. For 10 years Judah enjoyed rest and prosperity under the rule of Asa.
Shortly after this decade of national peace and prosperity, Zerah, the Ethiopian, came out against the nation of Judah with an army a million strong. The rest was broken. Judah’s days as a peaceful and prosperous nation were being threatened by a powerful neighbor to the South. Asa did what any worthy king in the Ancient Near East would do. He mustered his army and went out to meet this foreign threat. The problem was that Asa had less than 600,000 soldiers to meet the million man army from Ethiopia. This was new leadership territory for Asa. He had not faced intruders or this kind of battle before. The odds were significantly stacked against him. This prompted Asa to pray. The Bible says that Asa “cried to the Lord his God.”
“O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”
This prayer contains two requests and four declarations of faith. Asa’s two simple requests are what you might expect: “Help us” and “Let not man prevail against you.” Any leader would cry out to their god for help in similar circumstances. They would ask for victory. But it is in the faith declarations that we see the strength of Asa’s requests and what he believes about Yahweh.
- O Lord, there is none like you to help
- We rely on you
- In your name we have come against this multitude
- You are our God
The first declaration is towards God’s uniqueness in power. God is not constrained by the circumstances. As a matter of fact, God loves to prevail on behalf of the weak.
The second declaration is towards His trustworthiness. God was worthy of Asa’s trust. God had led Asa toward peace and prosperity. And God had led Asa to prepare an army in peace time that he might be ready in times of trial. God could be trusted in these circumstances also.
The third declaration is towards His glory. When Asa invokes God’s name he is calling upon God’s total character. A person’s name represented all of who they were. In our English Bibles the word “Lord” in these verses is in all caps. That is because Asa was crying out to YAHWEH. This was the covenant name of God. It symbolized that God would do what He had promised. This name stood for the majesty of God, His glory.
And the fourth declaration is toward God’s claim on His people-and their claim on Him. Asa was declaring that he and the nation of Judah belonged to God exclusively. Asa was declaring his allegiance and trust to God. Notice too that the final request is that man not prevail against God, not against the armies of Asa. This reflects Asa’s belief and identity being anchored in God.
These faith declarations, tied to the character of God, frame and support the requests that Asa makes. As spiritual leaders we would do well to frame our pray requests in a similar manner. A leader’s prayer based on the character of God, made by a devoted follower of God, will be heard by God. James, the Lord’s brother, said it this way, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16). May we be praying leaders, sure in the nature of God, and confident in our requests.
What are you learning about prayer as a leader?