Asa’s Prayer: “Help Us!”
by Brenda Kuseski
Dave Early’s book, The 21 Most Effective Prayers of the Bible, shows us how to model our prayers on what we see happening in the Bible (what a concept!)—we discover times when people just like us expected God to answer their cry. Read II Chronicles 14, and consider Early’s discussion of the prayer of King Asa:
Asa did what was right in the eyes of God, tore down the altars of pagan worship, and led his people to seek and obey God. He strengthened the fortified cities and assembled a large, well-equipped army. He had every reason to assume good fortune would continue, and Israel would have peace. [2 Chron. 14:1-8]
He was woefully wrong, for one decisive day a dark cloud rolled up from Egypt. In the eye of the terrible tempest was Zerah, leading a massive war machine, a vast army of Cushite [Ethiopian] warriors and three hundred chariots. …This would be one of the most massive massacres in history.
How would you handle the horrible hopelessness of facing definite defeat and destruction? What do you usually do when things are bleak?
Asa did the right thing. He prayed one of the most effective prayers recorded in the Bible: Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”
What an excellent pattern for effective prayer! It is short—only twenty-seven words in Hebrew—and complete. Moreover, Asa’s simple petition consists of three key components of effective prayer:
1. He began with words of praise: “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty.” He focused on the great power and compassion of God. Praise positions us to pray.
2. He stated the petition clearly and succinctly: “Help us, O Lord our God.”
3. He gave God the reasons he expected Him to answer—in his case, four reasons. (1) Judah was depending on God, not on themselves: “for we rely on you.” (2) Judah was representing God in this cause: “in your name we have come against this vast army.” (3) Israel belonged to and was allied with God: “O Lord, you are our God.” (4) ultimately the battle was the Lord’s: “do not let man prevail against you.”
The rest of the story in II Chronicles 14:12-15 describes God’s miraculous defeat of the enemy, and the Israelite army’s complete crushing of the invaders. Early offers three reminders for us:
1. You can tap into the overlooked power of God by crying out for help.
2. Praying may bring an answer abundantly beyond all you can ask or think (Eph. 3:20-21).
3. Whenever you need help, God is listening! Notice the word “help” in these Psalms passages: Ps. 38:22; 46:1,2; 56:9; 70:5; 79:9; 121:1-2.
This week, pray Scripture; pray biblically; pray like Asa!