This year has been a very active one for me in the spiritual realm. I have been more earnest in prayer than I have been for many years. Indeed, I have spent a lot of this year praying and being still before the Lord, and, when I think about it, it’s been both difficult and easy. It’s been difficult because I’m not the one out there in action like I’ve been used to most of my life. Instead, I have been allowing the Lord to fight the battles while I await instructions and then do what I’m supposed to do. The easy part in all is this is the simplicity in my prayers.

I know I’ve run into problems when I’ve acted without prayer or prayed and then acted without listening for direction. Sometimes the next logical step to take isn’t the next step to take.

Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

Joshua 7:2 (NIV)

After the victory at Jericho, the Israelites had their sights on the small city of Ai. Joshua sent out spies to the region. When they returned they advised Joshua to only send out a small number of Israelites to take this small city. When the 3,000 men of Israel attacked Ai, they were routed and sent packing with 36 dead. Joshua’s decision to spy out the enemy and then send an appropriately sized force to defeat them was a sound strategic decision. Why tire the entire army if a small force will do?

However, Joshua didn’t know the bigger picture. The battle at Jericho was given to the Israelites by God. God told Joshua exactly what to do for the victory, and he told his men. They followed God’s instructions, and they were victorious at Jericho. Or so they thought.

But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.

Joshua 7:1 (NIV)

Had Joshua inquired of the Lord before sending spies to Ai, the issue would have been resolved without being first being routed at Ai. I don’t know why Joshua didn’t inquire of the Lord first. I know how Joshua responded to the situation at Ai after being routed and wrote about it nine months ago in Joshua’s Plight. In that article, I wrote that Joshua was only human and I think being human is a good answer for why Joshua didn’t inquire of the Lord before attacking Ai. Despite having spent so many years with the Lord, Joshua still made a mistake.

Over the last year, I’ve seen great things come against me that I can’t possibly defeat on my own. I could try and fight them. Doing something sometimes feels like something is getting done, doesn’t it? This is where simple prayers have come into my life. When we consider Joshua and the Ai situation, all Joshua would have had to have done was ask the Lord, “Should we go up against Ai?” That’s a simple and straightforward prayer.

It’s when we think we know what we know before we know what we know, that we can get into trouble. Did you get that?

Joshua knew the Lord was with him and the Israelites. Furthermore, Joshua knew the Lord had given the Promised Land to them. However, Joshua didn’t know what Achan had done.

Even when we ask for it in prayer, it’s not necessarily better.

I could see myself as Joshua praying to the Lord, “Lord, I know you are with us. I know you have given us this land, just as you promised. Now, we’re going up to Ai to take it in your name. Please bless us as we go forth. Thank you. Amen.”

There’s nothing wrong with that prayer, except it doesn’t really ask God anything. It’s a prayer of assumption, and it’s assuming it’s in God’s will. It doesn’t ask the one thing that needs to be asked. “Should we go up against Ai?”

I think we pray like that a lot. This is what Paul says about the Holy Spirit and prayer.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

Romans 8:26 (NLT)

If we go to God telling Him what we want Him to do, or to keep from us, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then we may not see those prayers answered in the way we would like. Even worse, we may see those prayers answered exactly how we want them to be answered when it’s not really what’s best for us. Now, God isn’t a Monkey’s Paw God, but we should still be mindful of what we ask for in prayer. What does James say about prayer?

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:16 (KJV)

James wasn’t just talking about healing and confessing sins here. This is why I think it’s better to pray for a person’s salvation before asking God to heal their body if they aren’t saved.

I’d say that these simple prayers when we go to God and ask for His help and His will to be done are the most difficult prayers of all. At least for me. It’s like this pandemic. I can only ask God for His help in getting through it. I can’t begin to imagine how to resolve the many-fold problems of it but God knows.

God knows. This is something I’ve been telling myself a lot throughout the past year. You see even when we pray and ask God to take care of all the mess in our lives and to help us through it all, our flesh and our desire to do something likes to raise its head. For me, this manifests with the question, “What are you going to do?” My response this year has been, “I don’t know, but God does, and I trust God.”

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.