Why Failure After Prayer
Judges 20:29-30 “(29) So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. (30) And the people of Israel went up against the people of Benjamin on the third day and set themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times.”
An interesting story here (Judges 19 & 20). A levite went to his in-laws to get back his concubine who had left him. Concubine is the same as wife from Hebrew terminology of the word – pileges. Concubine doesn’t refer to a woman of lesser morals. Concubine differed from wife proper because she was either formerly a slave turned wife or used as a surrogate mother. Concubine therefore was treated fully as a wife but with lesser rights because of how she became a wife.
On the way back from getting his concubine from their home, it was late in the evening, the levite was invited by an old man at Gibeah to spend a night in his house. Israelites of the tribe of Benjamin were the natives of Gibeah. To make a long story short, the natives of Gibeah came at night and took the concubine of the levite, they raped her to death. The levite in anger, cut his dead concubine into pieces and distributed the pieces among all the twelve tribes of Israel. This act caused eleven tribes of Israel to turn against Benjamin the twelfth tribe of Israel, to punish them for raping to death the levite’s concubine.
All Israel rose up in war against their brothers the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 20:9). Israel asked Benjamin to surrender the rapists so that they can be punished but Benjamin refused (Judges 20:12-13). Therefore Israel inquired from God whether they should go to war and fight their own brothers (Judges 20:18). The answer from God was that they should go ahead and fight led by the tribe of Judah (Judges 20:18).
The interesting fact is that they prayed for God’s guidance in the war against Benjamin and they failed. They lost the battle twice after prayer. The question that needs to be answered is, why did they fail after prayers?
Judges 20:18-21 Israel prayed and God answered by telling them that Judah should lead the war. In obedience to God, the tribe of Judah led the war against the tribe of Benjamin. All Israel had about 400,000 soldiers for this war against Benjamin (Judges 20:17). Benjamin had about 26,700 soldiers for this war against Israel (Judges 20:15-16). In this first battle, Benjamin defeated Israel by killing 22,000 of their soldiers (Judges 20:21). Israelites failed in the war against Benjamin after praying for victory and God giving them an ok to go to war. Why did they fail after prayer?
Judges 20:22-25 Israel encouraged themselves after the first loss. They prepared for war the next day. But to be certain that they had God’s blessings, Israel prayed in tears asking God if they should go to war against their brothers Benjamin. God responded that they should go to war. Israel went to war against Benjamin and they lost again. Benjamin killed 18,000 Israelites in the second day of fighting. Once again, Israel lost after having prayed and being assured to go ahead with the war. Why did they fail after prayer?
Judges 20:26-28 Israel went before God and wept and fasted. They asked God for the third time whether they should proceed with the battle or retreat? Because you cant fight without God’s approval and neither can you retreat without God’s approval. God must approve war or retreat. Many times we assume that either retreat or war is God’s obvious answer, and we only pray for one and not the other. We need divine guidance, whether to fight or to retreat, nothing is obvious. Israel therefore persisted in prayer after two failures, because, failure was not an obvious indicator to retreat. Be careful about what you think is an obvious indicator. In stead get divine guidance in everything, even the obvious.
After these third prayers and fasting, God told Israel to go ahead for a third time and fight Benjamin. This time, God added that, I will give you victory (Judges 20:28). That opens our eyes that God hadn’t promised victory earlier. Before we quickly accuse God of failing Israel in the war against Benjamin, take note that it is us who assumed that God’s ok is equal to a promise to give success. How regularly we think like this and wrongly so. A God given studies opportunity does not mean you cant fail in the exams. A God given marriage does not mean it will be happy all the way. A God given job does not mean you cant be fired from the job. A God given business does not mean we cant run into losses. The secret is, if God gave and you face crisis, you go back to Him, you hang in there and plead with Him for the next course of action and for victory.
Israel kept going back to God, because though He gave the permission for them to fight Benjamin, they still failed. When we fail after prayer, we must persist in prayer. It is possible to fail, even in God ordained projects. We face challenges in pastoral ministry, yet God called us to it. Failure doesn’t always mean that God didn’t ordain the project. Failure after prayer is a call to persist in prayer until God responds on the way forward or the way of victory. Why did they fail after prayer? So that they may persist in prayer. So that they may draw closer to God in dependence.
Judges 20:29 “So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah.” The third time battle after prayers, Israel employed better military tactics. They did what they hadn’t done earlier. They changed strategy and approach to the Battle. This third time, Israel was victorious. Is it possible that they failed twice earlier because they assumed they will be victorious without much strategy? Did they trust their numerical advantage of 400,000 against 26,700 and forgot to fully trust God? Was the failure a call to trust God for victory and not the numbers? Is it possible that their two earlier prayers were routine prayers, yet their faith was in the numerical advantage instead of God? Is it possible that they had too much faith and failed to play their part of strategising and applying tactics of war? Did they assume that since it was sin committed by Benjamin, they will obviously win without strategy, because God is angry about the sin? Did they lose the battles because they wrongly thought that God would do what they are supposed to do, which is develop battle strategy?
Why did they fail after prayer? So that they may draw closer to God and persist in prayer. Failure is a call to persistence in prayer and relating with God. Why did they fail after prayers? Because their faith had to be turned to God from the numerical advantage they had against Benjamin. When we have any advantage, many times our faith gets anchored on the advantage and not God. For that reason, the beautiful take long to get life time partners, the bright don’t quickly make it in life, the wealthy find happiness to be elusive, until we fully realise it is God and not the advantage that favours us. Why did they fail after prayer? Because they hadn’t played their part of properly strategising to win this war. Prayer does not replace the need to work hard, strategise, express love, study, etc.
May God help us who have failed after prayers that we may learn the lesson and move on to victory, in Jesus name, Amen!(c)email@example.com (do not delete any part of this post, including this. You are free to share these posts, but do not edit the authorship or content…thank you and be blessed!)