Stanley D. Gale
Reviewed by: C. Adam Ostella
Date posted: 04/13/2008
The Prayer of Jehoshaphat: Seeing Beyond Life's Storms, by Stanley D. Gale. Published by P&R, 2007. Paperback, 143 pages, list price $12.99. Reviewed by OP pastor C. Adam Ostella.
When Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was assailed by three different armies, he cried out, "O our God... we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you" (2 Chron. 20: 12). As Pastor Gale reflects upon the prayer of Jehoshaphat, he shows that prayer is not about getting motivation to make our lives better now, but rather is an expression of faith in God. True faith is not naive or idealistic; it realistically places all hope in the power of God, the king of creation who rules over all the events of history. Each chapter treats part of a verse from the prayer, and the conclusion and afterward place the prayer in its larger redemptive context.
Gale is at his best when he unfolds 2 Chronicles 20 in light of Christ's work. However, at times he draws too straight a line from the struggles of Jehoshaphat to our own. For example, chapter 1 is a reflection on verse 2," A great multitude is coming against you," and Gale asks, "What does the threat in your life look like?" (p. 23). It would be helpful first to see how the work of Christ ties in with each part of Jehoshaphat's prayer, rather than jumping directly from Jehoshaphat's situation to our own. A more fruitful line of reflection is found in the study guide question: "In what way does God give us in Jehoshaphat a preview and foreshadowing of his salvation in Jesus Christ?" (p. 143). More on the historical context itself would have been very helpful to set the scene for the coming of Christ.
Overall, Gale does well to point us to Christ from the prayer as a whole. He reminds us that only through the salvation we have in Christ are we able to endure the distresses of life in a God-honoring way. His final chapter is an attempt to show how Christ, particularly in his work on the cross, is the fulfillment of the prayer. As he says, "This prayer, the events that surround it, and the resolution it seeks have their ultimate end in Jesus Christ" (p. 119). Whereas Jehoshaphat was not able to face his enemies and deliver his people from them, Gale says, "Jesus, the ultimate Jehoshaphat, was able" (p.122).
This book, which Gale notes is not an exhaustive treatment of the prayer of Jehoshaphat, intends to get people thinking. A study guide organized by chapter is provided at the end for this purpose. The book is accessible to most readers, and some will profit more than others from the cultural references and personal anecdotes.