After the mighty victory at Jericho, it was abundantly obvious that God was fighting for His people as they entered the land of Canaan. God had promised Joshua: “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life” (Josh. 1:5), so nothing could stop them now.
Except one thing – sin in the camp! After a humiliating defeat at Ai, “Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face” and began to complain to the Lord about how He had let them down (Josh. 7:6-9).
Normally prayer is a good thing, but in this case God rebuked Joshua for praying! Have you ever wondered why?
Joshua should have remembered that God’s promise had a condition: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth;…that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein:…then thou shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8). Their complete lack of success at Ai could, therefore, only have resulted from their disobedience. Joshua, as leader, should have realized this and immediately punished those responsible. Instead, here he was groveling and crying like a baby with his face on the ground.
As soon as Joshua did what he should have done in the first place – purge the guilty ones from the company (Josh. 7:25) – then God gave them a great victory over those who had once defeated them. (Josh. 8:28)
Application: Congregations of the Lord’s church have no right to pray if they are harboring known sin in the camp. As Paul wrote, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6) (adapted from Henry M. Morris)