How not to pray – A summary of the prayers in Joshua ‣ Praying Through the Bible

Person's hand reaching to sun in prayer

Almost all the prayers in the book of Joshua provide negative examples. The people neglected to pray, and when they do pray, the prayers are often shallow, perfunctory, or self-focused. This depiction of prayer may be some foreshadowing by the author. Though the book of Joshua recounts the battle for the Promised Land, and God’s promise fulfilled, the people do not always follow God’s orders, which sometimes leads to dire consequences. God was trying to protect His people from negative influences, but their failure to follow His words came back to haunt them. Perhaps the writer is showing us that the lack of attention to sincere and vibrant prayer is part of the problem.

Of the eight prayers in Joshua, only the blessings (14.13, 22.6–7) appear to match blessings in the rest of the Bible. Even these are just mentions of blessings. There is a confession that does not sound like much of a confession. A prayer-vow turns out to be ill-informed. The single lament is self-centered and blind to reality. There is a prayer that may not be a prayer at all, and a place where the Israelites and their leaders should have prayed, but did not. The one petition sounds like a pagan petition to the sun and moon (though it may be deliberate to razz the enemy).

If it was the intent of the author to use prayer as another way of showing us the failures of the Israelites, then the lesson for us is this: prayer, and our attitude towards it, should not be taken lightly.

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