This is a continuation of Watchman Nee's short teaching on prayer. I find these thought provoking in how these men of faith approached prayer. How often we jump into the outcome we seek? May we all learn to wait on the Lord to discern His heart for the pressures of this life. You can also check out the teaching on how Abraham got his prayer answered.
The Surprising Defeat at Ai
When the children of Israel attacked the city of Ai, they were overwhelmed and fled. The men of Ai chased them as they fled and killed 36 Israelites. “The hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water” (Joshua 7:4-5).
How had it come about that after so mighty a triumph at Jericho the children of Israel suffered dire defeat at Ai?
Joshua Enquired of the Lord
There was only one thing Joshua could do. Prostrating himself before the Lord, He enquired into the cause of this defeat.
Naturally Joshua was grieved on account of the danger into which Israel had fallen. But what grieved him more was the dishonor that had been brought to the name of the Lord.
Therefore he inquired: “What wilt Thou do for Thy great name” (Joshua 7:9)?
This was the key to his prayer.
God Answered Joshua’s Prayer
Joshua honored the name of God. His concern was what God would do for the sake of His own name.
And God answered Joshua’s inquiry.
He said, “Israel hath sinned… therefore the children of Israel cannot stand before their enemies… I will not be with you any more except you destroy the devote thing from among you” (Joshua 7:10-12).
God was concerned for His own name and could not therefore tolerate sin among His people. He heard Joshua’s prayer and instructed him to discover and do away with the sin that caused the trouble.
Joshua Obeyed the Direction of the Lord
When Joshua was clear about the reason for Israel’s defeat, he rose up early in the morning to deal with the matter and discovered that the trouble was Achan’s sin of covetousness. When all Israel had dealt with this sin, their defeat was turned into victory.
To tolerate sin is to cause God’s name to be blasphemed and to give Satan occasion to attack God’s people.
How Joshua Got His Prayer Answered
When Joshua prayed about the defeat at Ai, he did not just open his mouth in undiscerning zeal and plead with God to save His people and make them victorious. It was the dishonor brought upon God’s name that grieved him, and his plea was that God would take up the case for His own name’s sake.
His prayer touched the crux of the matter and consequently brought an answer from God. And God’s name that had been dishonored was glorified.