the Lord said to Joshua,
"Stretch out the spear that is
in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand."
And Joshua stretched out the spear that was in his hand toward the city. 19 So those in ambush
arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his
hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to set the city on
fire. 20 And when the men of Ai
looked behind them, they saw, and behold, the smoke of the city ascended to
heaven. So they had no power to flee this way or that way, and the people who
had fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers.
when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the
smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 Then the others came out of
the city against them; so they were caught
in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side.
And they struck them down, so that they let none of them remain or escape. 23 But the king of Ai they took
alive, and brought him to Joshua. 24 And
it came to pass when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of
Ai in the field, in the wilderness where they pursued them, and when they all
had fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed, that all the
Israelites returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25 So it was that all
who fell that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand — all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back
his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed
all the inhabitants of Ai.
James said in his epistle, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails
much” (James 5:16). God isn’t interested in mindless repetition or lifeless
prayer. What our Lord desires is a people who pray passionately, thoughtfully,
Remember Jacob? He was in great need. He grabbed God and
said, “I’m not going to let You go until You bless me.” And there they were,
wrestling back and forth by the brook Jabbok all night long. When morning came,
the match ended and Jacob would never forget that night. Jacob’s hip was out of
joint but the Lord said, “You’ve prevailed. And My blessing is upon you”
How about Elijah? When the land was dry and drought
drained the life of the crop, cattle, and man, Elijah put his head between his
knees and prayed 7x. He was in the
birthing position of the day and as he prayed and prayed what was birthed was
what God’s desire was for him to do (1 Kings 18).
There are stories and stories about people praying
passionately. In our text here, Joshua held out his spear. He was victorious in
prayer as he held up the spear not only at the beginning of the fight but all
the way through the battle.
Do you know where Joshua got this idea? I believe he saw
it once before in the life of his predecessor, Moses! Moses said, “Josh, you
lead the men in battle and I’ll head up the mountain to pray!” So Moses held
the rod high in the sky and as his rod was up, Israel was victorious but when
Moses arms got heavy and began to sink the Amalekites began to dominate. So
with the help of Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ arms Israel secured the
Now here’s what’s important…God said to Moses, “Write this
account in a book and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua so that he will know
that the reason for his victory in the valley was not due to his military
strategy or talented ability but instead because there was intercessory prayer
taking place on the mountain top!”
Friends, the Lord desires passionate prayer, effective
prayer, prayer filled with faith that is expecting Him to work and move and
bless! Joshua, I believe was passionate perhaps thinking, “I’ve seen pain, I’ve
seen death, I won’t drop my spear or let it fall until the victory is ours.”
That’s passion. That’s effectual, fervent prayer that births the work of God in
our lives, in our families, and especially in our fellowship!