“And when they prevailed over them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried out to God in the battle, and He granted their urgent plea because they trusted in Him.” (1 Chronicles 5:20)
When the Israelites came to the land God had promised them, they knew they weren’t the only occupants. There were quite a few hostile nations who were already settled there, and before the people of Israel could make the land their home, they first had to drive out the current inhabitants. This wasn’t always easy. Joshua spent his entire career as leader fighting against enemies. After he died, there were still a good bit of people left to conquer. These people were strong, and they weren’t about to give up their land without a fight. The Israelites must have often become discouraged, wondering if they were ever going to completely conquer their enemies. But they kept on, trusting God to keep His word and give the land to them.
1 Chronicles 5:18-22 recounts a battle against an enemy nation. The people of Reuben, Gad, and half the people of Manasseh had settled in a portion of land that was separate from the rest of Israel. At one point, these three tribes joined forces to fight against a people known as the Hagrites. Naturally, this wasn’t an easy thing. The three tribes combined had 44,760 warriors; the Hagrites had well over 100,000. There was no way the Israelites could do this on their own.
Fortunately, they knew that. They knew that they were greatly outnumbered and that it would be nearly impossible for them to defeat their enemies. But they also knew that God had promised to give them the land. Trusting Him to keep that promise, they cried out to Him for help. Because they trusted Him, God granted them victory.
In our own lives, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the crazy stuff we have going on. There’s work, school, relationships, and so much more; it’s not hard to feel trapped in it all. We know that we’re supposed to take all our worries and problems to God, so we dutifully pray. But—and this is the real question—do we really believe He’s going to do something about our troubles? Are we praying because we know God will answer, or because it’s just what we’re supposed to do?
Here’s the thing: God is perfectly capable of acting in our lives whether we ask Him to or not. But the Bible clearly states that He wants us to pray. He wants us to ask Him for help. He wants us to believe that He can take all the overwhelming, stressful things in our lives and turn them into something wonderful. When we pray, we’re telling God that we trust Him, that we believe He’s in charge and can do something about our situation. If we don’t truly believe that, then why are we even praying? What’s the point of asking God to do something if we don’t think He’ll actually do it? The Israelites believed God would help them win, and because of their belief, He gave them victory. We need to be the same way, trusting that God will actually work in our lives. That is the key to answered prayers—believing that God truly does answer them. Of course, sometimes that answer is “no”. But when that’s the case, don’t be discouraged; it means God has something else, something better, in mind for you. God answers our prayers. We can always have full confidence in that.