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Strength Through Prayer

What is your first response in a crisis? Do you turn to your spouse or a trusted friend? Do you try to work out a solution on your own?

While these are natural responses to the challenges of life, God desires that we turn to Him first. When we seek the Lord in prayer, He supplies the supernatural ability to face any situation. This is the meaning of Life Principle #17: We stand tallest and strongest on our knees.

The people of Israel learned this lesson at the battle of Jericho. They fought not on the basis of man’s strategy but according to the divine guidance Joshua received through prayer.

Following a God-given Strategy

Read Joshua 6.

  • What did God promise (v. 2)?

Typical ways to attack a city in ancient times included breaking through the gates, going over the walls, or sneaking in through weak areas. Sieges were another possibility. An army could also draw the enemy away from their fortified city, and then attack. The strategy Joshua received was far more radical than any of these approaches.

  • What did God instruct them to do (vv. 3-4)?
  • What were they to do the seventh day (v. 5)?

Notice that they were to walk silently (v. 10). While we don’t know for sure if they prayed, they certainly had the opportunity to do so.

  • How does Joshua 2 describe the Canaanites’ feelings about the Israelites (see vv. 9, 11, 24)?
  • How does this compare to the reports of Israel’s spies a generation before, when the people approached the Promised Land for the first time (Num. 13:31-33)?
  • How would the battle of Jericho have gone differently if the people had relied upon the old report?

When the people shouted and the trumpets blew, the wall of Jericho fell (Josh. 6:20). Some people assert that the walls fell because of the loud noise that occurred when the people shouted and blew the trumpets.

God told the Israelites to destroy all the residents and their livestock (Josh. 6:17-18). This seems unnecessarily harsh to us today, but the Lord knew the future. In later battles, when the Israelites spared the people, the foreigners eventually influenced the Israelites to worship false gods (see Deut. 20:16-18). Another consequence was that the conquered peoples returned to attack the Jews later.

  • Although the Israelites destroyed the town itself, why do you think the spoils of the battle—the silver, gold, and bronze—were reserved for God (Josh. 6:19)?

In the middle of the story of the conquest of Jericho, there is a story of grace and redemption. Rahab, a prostitute in Canaan, converted to Judaism and joined the Hebrew people.

  • Why were Rahab and her family spared (Josh. 6:17)?
  • According to Hebrews 11:31, what characteristic caused her to be saved?
  • What important place does Rahab hold in Christian history (Matt. 1:5)?
  • What does her story demonstrate about the character of God?

Application

The Israelites had spent their lives wandering in the desert. They had little or no military experience. Thankfully, their leader knew that he needed divine guidance to take the city.

  • What in life is beyond your ability to handle, apart from the Lord’s help?

God gives us supernatural strength when we turn to Him in prayer. We can’t literally be on our knees in prayer at all times, but we can “abide in Christ” throughout the day. Abiding in Him means we surrender to Him moment by moment and allow His character to flow through us.

  • Read John 15:4-7. How does this passage encourage or challenge you?
  • Describe a time in your life when you sensed God’s supernatural power working through you because you had turned to Him for help.
  • How can that experience encourage you in the challenge(s) you face today?

God’s instructions may have seemed unwise to Joshua. He may have worried that obeying would make the Israelites look foolish or put them in harm’s way. This story illustrates another Life Principle: God does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even when it seems unreasonable (#5).

  • Is God asking you to do something that seems foolish from a human perspective? How can the story of the fall of Jericho encourage you to obey?

The Israelites were delivered from their enemies. But believers don’t always get delivered from problems. Instead, God may enable us to walk through difficult situations.

  • What benefit does the Lord promise to give us every time we turn our worries over to Him in prayer (Phil. 4:6-7)?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the privilege of talking to You, the Ruler of the universe. I admit life’s challenges are too much for me to handle sometimes. Thank You for promising to meet me in prayer and equip me with all I need to succeed. Amen.