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By Jennifer Kennedy Dean

From The One Year Praying the Promises of God

Fear flees when faith is activated. No matter how intimidating your circumstances appear, you don’t have to succumb to fear. You can exercise explosive faith.

 

The LORD said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors.” Joshua 6: 2

 

As God was speaking these words, the Israelites were standing outside the fortified city of Jericho. It was surrounded by two parallel walls about fifteen feet apart. Jericho was no illusion. There it stood— fortressed, barricaded, impenetrable. To the Israelites’ physical sight, taking Jericho was difficult, if not hopeless. Cities such as Jericho had convinced ten of the twelve spies sent to scout out the land forty years earlier that Israel could not conquer it (see Numbers 13: 27-28). Fear activated by the sight of such an intimidating obstacle had already stolen forty years as well as an entire generation of people. Now, everything their eyes could see told them that this was still a lost cause.

 

But when God spoke to Joshua and called him to battle, he said, “I have given you Jericho” (emphasis added). The verb tense indicated that it was already a done deal. Finished work. Just waiting for the people’s obedience to bring that completed promise into their experience.

 

The writer of Hebrews tells the story in a few well-chosen words: “It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down” (Hebrews 11: 30). When the people obeyed the Lord’s command and marched around Jericho for seven days, the walls fell.

 

When the promise of God comes into contact with our faith-fueled obedience, an explosion of power results. Walls fall. Obstacles disappear. Enemies flee.   

 

You may be looking at a Jericho today. Maybe something in your life looks too big for you. Your enemy might be pointing out all the reasons why your obstacle will win the day. If so, remember this: when God calls you to battle, He has already won the victory. The only way your Jericho will stand is if you believe your limited perceptions instead of God’s Word and slink away, missing the opportunity to see God’s power in action.   

 

RESPOND

What obstacles in your life look too big for you right now? What changes in your perception if you redefine your circumstances by what your heart knows instead of what your eyes see?

 

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Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on January 23, 2016 at 2:52pm

One further thought (danger of hitting "enter" too soon...):

I often pray with folks whose prayers are focused on the walls, to use the Jericho paradigm.  It can be hard to see past the difficulties - the illnesses, the relational stress, the financial problems.  But focusing on the walls is what caused the 10 spies to respond in fear rather than in faith.  I think the same is true to an extent for our prayer lives.  If our prayers are constantly focused on the walls rather than on God, they can become exercises in Christian duty - just one more thing to try without really believing it will work.  When our prayers are focused on the God who is able to do "immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine", that's when faith takes over. 

This focus on God also keeps our faith strong even when our prayers are not answered immediately or in exactly the way we imagined.  God didn't drive all the Canaanites out at once, for good reason - that would have left the people of Israel open to attacks from wild animals (Deuteronomy 7:22).  The prayer that sees only the walls would look at that and say, "God isn't powerful enough to drive them all out" or "God doesn't care enough to drive them all out" or "God doesn't see the enemies that remain." 

But the prayer that looks in faith at God sees what he is doing and trusts that he is acting.  Such prayer doesn't have to completely understand - it is able to trust without complete knowledge.  "Blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed."

Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on January 23, 2016 at 2:44pm

Love this perspective!  There's an old Rich Mullins song called "Pictures in the Sky" that contains this line:

"Down here on earth it's hard to keep in mind

When the days are hazy, the sun still shines."

I think that remembering God's sovereignty fuels our faith and informs our prayers as nothing else can.

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