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The Everyday Prayer

printable version

Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Chronicles 20, 1-37

Some time later, the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them the Meunites, advanced to war against Jehoshaphat.

Jehoshaphat received the following intelligence, 'A vast horde is advancing on you from the other side of the Sea, from Edom; they are already at Hazazon-Tamar, that is, En-Gedi.'

Jehoshaphat was alarmed and resolved to have recourse to Yahweh; he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

So Judah assembled to seek help from Yahweh; to seek Yahweh they came from every town in Judah.

Then, standing in the Temple of Yahweh in front of the new court among the assembled people of Judah and Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat

said, 'Yahweh, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven, and do you not rule all the kingdoms of the nations? Your power and might are such that no one can resist you.

Did not you, our God, dispossess the inhabitants of this country for your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham, your friend, for ever?

They have lived in it and built you a sanctuary there for your name,

saying, "If disaster, war, flood, pestilence or famine befall us, and we stand in front of this Temple, before you -- for your name is in this Temple -- and cry to you in our distress, then you will listen and rescue us."

'Now see, the Ammonites and Moabites and the people of Mount Seir, whom you would not allow Israel to invade when they came out of Egypt -- on the contrary, Israel avoided them, and did not destroy them-

see how they reward us, by coming to drive us out of your possession which you allotted to us!

Our God, will you not pass sentence on them, since we are helpless against this vast horde about to attack us? Because we do not know what to do, we look to you.'

All Judah, including their families, wives and children, were standing before Yahweh,

when, in the middle of the assembly, the spirit of Yahweh came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah the Levite, a member of the clan of Asaph,

who then cried, 'Listen, all Judah and you citizens of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Yahweh says this to you, "Do not be afraid, do not be daunted by this vast horde, for the war is not your affair but God's.

Go down against them tomorrow; they are coming up by the Slope of Ziz and you will encounter them at the end of the ravine near the desert of Jeruel.

You will not need to fight in this battle. Take up your position, stand firm, and see what salvation Yahweh has in store for you. Judah and Jerusalem, be fearless, be dauntless; march out against them tomorrow and Yahweh will be with you." '

Jehoshaphat bowed his head, his face to the ground, and all Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem fell down before Yahweh to worship Yahweh.

Then the Levites -- both the Kohathites and Korahites -- stood up to praise Yahweh, God of Israel, at the top of their voices.

Early next morning they prepared to set out for the desert of Tekoa. As they were setting out, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, 'Listen to me, Judah and you citizens of Jerusalem! Believe in Yahweh your God and you will be secure; believe in his prophets and you will be successful.'

Then, having conferred with the people, he appointed singers who were to praise Yahweh and go out ahead of the army in sacred vestments, singing Praise Yahweh, for his faithful love endures for ever!

The moment they began their shouts of praise, Yahweh sprang an ambush on the Ammonites, Moabites and the people of Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and that was the end of them,

for the Ammonites and Moabites turned on the people of Mount Seir, and put them under the curse of destruction and then, having finished off the people of Seir, set to work slaughtering one another.

When Judah reached the point overlooking the desert and looked towards the horde, there were nothing but corpses lying on the ground; no one escaped.

When Jehoshaphat arrived to take the booty, they found quantities of cattle and innumerable possessions, clothes and valuables, which they seized for themselves; it was impossible to carry it, and it took them three days to collect it.

On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they blessed Yahweh -- hence the place was given the name Valley of Beracah, which it still has today.

Then all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem with Jehoshaphat at their head as Yahweh had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.

To the sound of lyre, harp and trumpet they came to Jerusalem, to the Temple of Yahweh,

and a panic from Yahweh seized all the neighbouring kings when they heard how Yahweh had fought against the enemies of Israel.

And henceforth Jehoshaphat's reign was undisturbed, for his God gave him peace all round.

So Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he came to the throne and he reigned for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi.

He followed the example of his father Asa undeviatingly, doing what Yahweh regards as right.

The high places, however, were not abolished; the people had still not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors.

The rest of the history of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, is written down in the records of Jehu son of Hanani, which are quoted in the Book of the Kings of Israel.

Afterwards, Jehoshaphat formed a partnership with Ahaziah king of Israel, which was very wrong of him.

He joined him in building some ships to go to Tarshish; they built them at Ezion-Geber.

Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah then prophesied against Jehoshaphat as follows, 'Because you have become Ahaziah's partner, Yahweh has wrecked your efforts.' The ships were wrecked and were never fit to sail for Tarshish.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Chronicler begins the story of the battle against the Moabites and the Ammonites, coming from east and south-east. In the past they already fought against Israel. Now they appear as a huge crowd, they are much larger in number than Judah’s forces. They are already in En-gedi, few kilometres south-east from Jerusalem. As Jehoshaphat sees that huge battle array, he is frightened. However, having experienced it in the past, he doesn’t think of counterattacks or political alliances. He seeks the Lord first and proclaims a fast and requires all the people to follow him. People gather to Jerusalem from every city to seek help from the Lord. Clearly the religious reform has yielded fruit. They really are one only heart and one only soul their eyes turned toward the Lord while danger is approaching. People gather repentant to pray God. Jehoshaphat, standing in the midst of the assembly, implores the Lord recognizing his power: “In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you” (v. 6). Then he recalls Abraham, “your friend”, to the Lord and as he guaranteed him descendants; the king also recalls Moses’ speech before the renewal of the covenant on Mount Nebo. He concludes with Solomon’s prayer during the dedication of the temple. Finally, he humbly asks the Lord for help: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12). The people are listening to Jehoshaphat’s plea, standing like him toward God, now join the prayer of their leader. The prophetic words of Jahaziel, a Levite of the clan of Asaph, respond the supplication of the king. The Lord arouses prophets among his people and never leaves them without words or instructions. The oracle begins with a warning: “Do not fear” (v. 15), and it ends with the promise of saving their lives. The Lord himself will enter the battle: “Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s” (v. 15). He will “fight for you”. Early in the morning Judah people set off with Jehoshaphat to the wilderness of Tekoa for the battle, and. but they don’t look like be going to fight. The king encourages his people again: “Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established; believe his prophets.” There is no war-cry but a hymn of all the people of the Lord that terrifies their enemies and they flee. It’s the weak strength of prayer that defeats evil because the Lord himself fights for his people rescuing them from evil attacks. War ends just as it started: people gather at the temple of the Lord to praise and thank him for his protection. Nonetheless Jehoshaphat, in spite of evidence of God’s protection, joins forces with the northern tribes during the last years of his reign. The Lord is not pleased and destroys his plans. The Chronicler reminds again the danger of pride, that makes people stray from God and lose his blessing.

Memory of the Church