Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me [humility demonstrated], I also have heard you, declares the Lord. (2 Chronicles 34:26b-27, ESV)
The first step is often the hardest! Once the baby takes that first step, it is not long before they are all over the place and getting into everything. But letting go of the finger or the edge of the couch is so hard to do. In terms of spiritual renewal or personal growth, humility (humbling ourselves) is that first step.
The passage quoted above is from the story of Josiah. He was only eight years old when he became king in Jerusalem. His grandfather was Manasseh, an evil king who did “detestable practices.” Josiah’s father was Amon, who only reigned two years. The chronicler only gives two paragraphs concerning his reign. Significantly, it is written, “…he did not humble himself before the Lord” (2 Chronicles 33.23). Unlike his father and grand-father, Josiah’s first steps demonstrated humility.
Which prayer are you needing to pray?
You have probably heard about The Prayer of Jabez. The book (The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking through to the Blessed Life) was released by Bruce Wilkinson in April 2004. It is a based on Jabez’ prayer for God to increase his territory – to expand his area of responsibility. Many of us are not ready for that; we have enough on our plate already. We find ourselves in a day-to-day struggle to survive. The focus of our prayers – more often than not – are the many problems we are facing.
Read the story of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17-20). He also has a prayer that is recorded. It, however, is a prayer of humility. At the beginning of his reign, Scripture records, “His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord” (17:6). Though he was the son of Asa, Jehoshaphat is described as a man who “walked in the ways his father David had followed.” Chapter 18, however, begins with the account of an alliance with King Ahab. He is headed in the wrong direction. Jehoshaphat escapes death in battle because he cried out to God and “the Lord helped him. God drew them away from him” (18:31).
The nineteenth chapter is about Jehoshaphat’s humility and reform. It is a story about repentance and renewal. Justice is restored by means of “the law of the Lord.” The people are warned not to sin against the Lord. But Jehoshaphat and Judah are not insulated from trouble. Chapter twenty begins with a simple phrase – “After this…” A “vast army” (20:2, 12, 15, &24) rises up against them, even after the repentance, renewal, and reform.
Humility: “We do not know what to do.”
Alarmed by the situation, Jehoshaphat “resolved to inquire of the Lord.” Great starting place! Alistair Begg once said, “If dependence is the objective, then weakness is an advantage.” He proclaims a fast and calls all of the people to come together to seek the Lord. And so he prays. The prayer begins with praise: “are you not… did you not?” (20:5-9) But he also voices his complaint – “But now…” (20:10ff). It is a complaint we sometimes share – “God, if you…” But notice how he draws the prayer to a close: “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (20:12)
That is where I need to begin all of the time. It is a necessary first step. I come to God with a prayer of humility, a prayer that starts me along the path to renewal. I acknowledge that I am powerless and that I really don’t know what to do. The writer of Proverbs reminds us of this need: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (3:5). Then we set on ours upon God!
You will find a list of verses regarding our need to depend on God at https://dailyverses.net/dependence