Where the Real Action Is

In times when victory seems impossible, we learn that battles are not won through our effort, but through God's power.

If there’s one thing that the Old Testament has in abundance, it’s battle scenes. We might be tempted to skim these passages, thinking they’re just dry historical records that have no relevance for our lives today. However, God has recorded these events in His Word for our reproof, correction, and training (2 Tim. 3:16). By searching for the principles embedded in these accounts, we’ll find truth that can transform our lives.

For instance, consider the war between Israel and the Amalekites in Exodus 17:8-16. This was the Israelites’ first battle after God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Their journey through the wilderness had barely begun when the Amalekites started attacking the stragglers in the rear of the caravan (Deut. 25:17-18).

The Israelites were in desperate need of help because this was not a fair fight. The Amalekites were seasoned warriors, but the children of Israel were former slaves—experienced in making bricks, not war. Though victory looked impossible, Moses did two things to prepare. First, he told Joshua to choose men for an army; then he took the staff of God and climbed with Aaron and Hur to a hilltop overlooking the battlefield.

While combat raged below, Moses raised the staff. As long as his hands were lifted, the Israelites were victorious, but when his arms grew heavy and dropped to his side, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Seeing Moses’ struggle, Aaron and Hur sat him on a rock and stationed themselves on either side to support his arms. Before nightfall, Joshua and his men had overwhelmed their enemy. And by studying their victory, we can learn a great deal about the power of prayer.

God’s goal is to clear away everything that hinders us from hearing His voice and receiving His guidance and power.

This story shows us how to win life’s battles.

When a difficult circumstance arises, our immediate reaction might be to come up with a plan and tackle the problem in our own strength instead of first seeking the Lord. Or perhaps we become discouraged by our own inadequacy and judge the situation as hopeless instead of resting in His sufficiency. Both responses ignore the supernatural power available to us.

Think about the struggles in your life. Maybe you’re dealing with an overwhelming situation and see no way out. It could be in the area of finances, health, work, school, or anything that is causing stress and confusion. Or perhaps you’re struggling with an addiction, a negative attitude, strong desires, or emotional bondage. Whatever it is, there is hope if you’ll follow the example of the trio whose victory came through reliance on God.

A successful strategy involves first fighting our battles in private with God. When we do, He attacks the issue by first dealing with us. And in bringing our struggles to the Lord, we shouldn’t storm into His throne room, demanding that He take up our cause; rather, we should humble ourselves and seek His perspective. God’s goal is to clear away everything that hinders us from hearing His voice and receiving His guidance and power.

We must believe that no battle is a challenge for almighty God. When the Lord spoke to Moses from the burning bush, telling him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, He indicated His miraculous power would be associated with the shepherd’s staff (Ex. 4:17). From that point forward, each time Moses stretched out his staff, the Lord performed a supernatural act. By lifting the staff during the Amalekite battle, Moses was demonstrating his faith that God would intervene on Israel’s behalf. In a similar way, our faith today rests on God’s Word: Every page of the Bible affirms the truth that the Lord causes all things to work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

When we ascend the hill of prayer, we gain greater understanding of the Lord and our situation.Because God knows the mind and heart of everyone involved, He sees the conflict for what it really is, not what it appears to be. When we seek Him through His Word instead of rushing ahead, He’ll reveal His perspective and provide assurance that we are not alone—He will help us handle whatever difficulties we face.

We have to take off our masks, quit pretending, and let others see us as we truly are.

We may grow weary during life’s battles.

Moses just couldn’t hold his hands up at times. Haven’t you felt that way about prayer? After repeatedly bringing a petition to God and seeing no results, you may have wondered why you should bother anymore. A long time ago I discovered persevering prayer can sometimes be like tunneling through a mountain. For a long time, it doesn’t look as if you’re making any progress. But you keep at it, all the while thanking and praising God, trusting Him to intervene in His way and time. Your circumstances may be shouting defeat, but if you listen, you’ll hear the Lord say, “Victory is on the way.”

Prayer partners are a great asset.

When Moses’ strength failed, Aaron and Hur provided support. No one can be strong all the time—we need each other, both to give and receive encouragement. Prayer partners lift us up, bolster our faith, and supply the strength we lack. What’s more, God’s power is released when two or three gather in Jesus’ name to seek His will together (Matt. 18:20).

I have personally experienced the encouragement of faithful prayer partners. In the midst of difficult and exhausting situations, brothers in Christ have crawled underneath my burden and helped me bear it. Their support increased my faith and gave me hope. This is the way God wants us to fight our battles—not in isolation, but joined together in Christ as a cord of three strands that is not easily broken (Eccl. 4:12).

Do you have this kind of relationship with a few other believers? The only way it will develop is through mutual honesty and vulnerability. We have to take off our masks, quit pretending, and let others see us as we truly are. And when we become committed, faithful intercessors for each other, we’ll grow stronger in battle, deeper in faith, and more Christlike in character.

Our dependence upon God teaches others to trust Him.

The Lord told Moses to record this event in a book and recite it to Joshua. As the military commander who would one day conquer the Promised Land, Joshua needed to know that battles are won not by mighty armies but by divine power, which God chooses to release when His children are prayerful and obedient. In the same way, the next generation can learn from our example.

Sometimes in the heat of life’s battles, we become so desperate for resolution that sitting alone with God on the hill of prayer seems unproductive. We wonder how the situation will ever change if we don’t act immediately. At such times, remember the battle with the Amalekites. Go ahead and ascend that hill—and take a couple of faithful friends with you. Then with faith in God’s Word, persist in prayer and watch Him work wonders.

Adapted from the sermon “Prayer Is Where the Action Is” by Charles F. Stanley

Related Topics:  Prayer

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