SINCERE PRAYER to GOD is our BEST DEFENSE: “Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah…and Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, ‘Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!’ So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.” (2 Chron. 14:9, 11-12)
It is a known fact that a vast majority of God’s people only turn to God through prayer only as the last resort, when everything else fails for them. However, the incident described above in King Asa’s life proves beyond a shadow of doubt that a sincere prayer to God is usually our best defense. This incident also verifies the fact that what matters in any battle (spiritual or otherwise) is not the strength of the enemy, but our trust in God through our faith in His ability to help us in times of trouble.
King Asa was faced with a formidable Ethiopian army of 1, 00,000 (one million) men along with 300 (three hundred) chariots. In comparison, Asa had only an army of 300,000 (three hundred thousand) men. Without any hesitation, Asa cried out to Jehovah God for help. He humbly acknowledged that it was God (and not his military might) that was his ultimate defense (14:11). Asa was able to pray in this manner because he had been praying, worshiping, and honoring the Lord for years now (14:3–7). Since Asa had obeyed God in times of peace, he knew that God would take care for him in times of war!
In fact, Asa’s prayer was sincere, short and to the point. His prayer was a remarkable display of his faith in God. Asa knew that he was outnumbered approximately two-to-one (14:8–9); but more importantly, he knew that God’s victories did not depend upon the strength of the enemy. Since Asa had a right relationship with God so far, his prayer was effective: "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).
God immediately struck the Ethiopians and they fled from the battle field. The battle that began in Mareshah (a city in Judah) ended around Gerar (a Philistine city, south of Gaza). Many Ethiopians were killed (including those who owned livestock), and huge amounts of spoil and animals were carried back to Jerusalem. Thus, Asa’s faith in Jehovah God was rewarded by the victory and the spoils that were taken from the Philistine cities after the battle.
Today, God wants to see whether we respond in faith in Him when circumstances overwhelm us, and we are victorious in our spiritual battles only when we rely upon God completely. By doing this, we are displaying our trust in God to fight our battles, and we now only have to stand still to see His deliverance (see Exo. 14:13-14). Our prayer to God during our troubles becomes a bridge between a state of panic before and a state of peace after. We serve a God who has revealed Himself as “The-Lord-Our-Banner” (in Hebrew, YHWH Nissi), who forever secures victory for God’s people. Like Asa, when we confess our total dependence upon God, call out to Him for help, and appeal to Him to defend His name for us, He will answer our prayer speedily and give us the deliverance that we need so badly.
Let us understand that our sincere prayer to God is our best defense. When we are faced with meager resources, a vast army of problems, tight spots or dead-end solutions, let us not panic but turn to God who will fight for us as His children and give us the needed victory.
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints" (Eph. 6:18). "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalms 46:1).