Sunday 3 August 2014
“When Gideon came to the Jordan, he and the three hundred men who were with him crossed over, exhausted but still in pursuit…When Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued them; and he took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and routed the whole army” (Judges 8:4,12).
The experience of Gideon and his men as recorded in Judges 8:1-21, have some lessons to teach us about prayer and perseverance. The lesson is simply this: we must never relent in prayer until our goal is achieved. The story also teaches us how we can sustain the spiritual momentum we gained during the just concluded 30 days fast.
The battle against the Midianites was a fierce one even though God was with Gideon and his three hundred soldiers. In Judges 7: 21-23, a great number of the Midianites were killed but some fled to Beth Acacia. These included the leaders of the Midianites. As we know, a battle is not over until the leaders of the army surrender or are killed.
At Gideon’s command, the men of Ephraim captured and killed the two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb, and brought their heads to Gideon. However, the two kings, Zebah and Zalmunna escaped. Determined to apprehend them, Gideon then crossed the River Jordan with his army, weary and exhausted, but still in pursuit of the two kings. He then approached the men of Succoth and Penuel to ask for bread to nourish his weary soldiers, but they declined. Probably the leaders of these communities did not oblige him for fear of any reprisals from the two Midianite kings. They thought that Gideon and his men would not be able to apprehend the two kings. But they were wrong. Gideon, though weary and exhausted, was determined to pursue the two kings. They eventually apprehended them and routed their army.
Why did Gideon and his three hundred men remained in pursuit of the two Midianite kings? Gideon would have been satisfied when the two princes were killed and their bodies handed over to him. But he was not. His goal was to kill the two kings, Zebah and Zalmuna. He knew that unless the two kings were apprehended their lives were in jeopardy and their goal remained unfulfilled. Besides, as he later found out, the two kings had killed his brothers and sisters, as we see in verses 18 and 19 of Judges 8.
The natural thing to do when a commander and his army are exhausted is to take a rest, but Gideon would not. Though exhausted, he still pursued the enemy. The attainment of his goal was very crucial to him.
We have just concluded a long fast, but our goal or goals are still not achieved. After a long fast, some of us are weary and tired of more prayer and fasting, even though our goals are not achieved. As long as our goals remain unfulfilled, we have no alternative than to summon courage and press on toward the mark.
Many times, the problem we face is that once we pray over an issue, we then relent in our zeal, even when our goals are still not reached. We are under the illusion that since we have prayed and fasted, then we should relax. In a sense, we are correct. After we have prayed, we should be assured that God has heard us, but that is not to say that we should stop praying. Persistence in prayer is not an act of faithlessness. Gideon did not relent in his pursuit; he should have been pacified when the princes of Midian were captured and killed, but he was not. His goal was to apprehend and kill the two kings of the Midianites. Thus, though weary and tired, he remained in pursuit until the kings were captured, and their armies routed. That is the right attitude we should have in prayer. Until the princes, the kings and the army of the Midianites are routed we must not give ourselves rest.
What are some of our unfulfilled goals we need to continue to pray about? These goals could be divided into three groups.
- We must continue to pray for the rescue and release of the Chibok girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram.
- One of our goals is never to relent in prayer until Boko Haram is wiped out or they stop their killings.
- We must use the promises of Psalm 91 to pray that the Ebola virus is eradicated in Nigeria. We should also pray for the other countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia where Ebola is ravaging the citizens.
- The 2015 elections are drawing close; we must pray for successful elections, and that peace will reign in Nigeria.
- We need to continue to press on in prayer to God for kidnapping and violence to be drastically reduced.
- We must pray and trust God for Church Growth in all our Centres and mission fields. God adds to his Church as many of those who are saved (Acts 2:47).
- We must continue to under gird all our Church programmes in prayers: the children and teenage camps, the Youth Camp, the OVERCOMERS Conference, the One Year prayer initiative, the Prayer Surge, the welfare of the various families, the business men and women, the need for land in many of our Centres, our mission fields and the missionaries who man them, etc.
In addition to our national goals and the Church goals, we have personal goals we need to keep praying about.
How do we sustain the spiritual momentum gained during the fast or how do we remain in pursuit? To remain in pursuit:
- Perseverance is necessary.
- Faith is indispensable.
- Courage is inevitable
- Involvement in the prayer Chain and Prayer Surge is a must.
- You must depend on the Holy Spirit, by whom alone we can gain strength to forge ahead in the fray.
Let me end with this quote from Charles H. Spurgeon: “Remember, if there be seats of ease, and no doubt there are, they are not for you, since you are a runner in a great race, with Heaven and Earth for witnesses. Cessation from watchfulness means ruin to your soul, the closing of conflict would show that you could never gain the victory, and perfect rest on Earth would show that none remained for you in Heaven.”
Only by perseverance and watchfulness in prayer can we sustain the momentum we gained during the last 30 days prayer and fasting.
May The Lord strengthen you to press on and not lose momentum