The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.
Joshua 9 v 14
God’s instruction to Joshua was to clear the land of all the inhabitants, and so far, at both Jericho and Ai, this had been done. But now Joshua comes up against a more subtle enemy. No longer is it an issue of the size of armies and military planning, but subterfuge defeats him because he takes appearances at face value without due thought and prayer. It all seemed so obvious; the bread was mouldy, the shoes were worn out, the sacks patched – “Just you try eating some of their food, it’s disgusting; they must have been travelling for ages and come a long way.” So instead of slaughter there was a treaty. Joshua and the Elders saw these men as no threat, and as a consequence their city, Gibeon, was never purified, only subdued. By the time the Israelites realised what had happened it was too late, and they felt obliged to keep the treaty, made under oath.
How come Joshua was fooled so easily? The answer lies in that simple phrase ‘…but did not inquire of the LORD.’
So many mistakes occur in our Christian experience for exactly the same reason – we make decisions before praying. How often we are tempted to make a decision and then pray, asking God to bless us in the course of action we have chosen. Maybe it is with the use of our money, or choosing where to live, or the job to accept, WE make the decision without reference to God at all.
Don’t be fooled by the seemingly obvious issues! Mistakes can lie under the surface of the most innocuous choices. Paul puts it this way, ‘ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ (Philippians 4 v 6)
That “Everything” means everything! All circumstances, all decisions, bring God in on them all, even those that seem so totally clear!
Don’t be fooled!
For reflection: Prayer is not a matter of getting down on your knees at certain times, but of staying thoughtfully in touch with God at all times.