Have you noticed that the majority of the prayers that most of us pray regularly tend to be in response to situations that require our immediate attention? We pray when a friend gets struck with a disease, when tragedy comes across the screens that are forever before our eyes, or when we need a parking space “right now.” When it comes to praying, most of us tend to be responsive and reactionary. While there is nothing wrong with this, as with all wartime strategies, we need to be on the offensive as well as the defensive. Please make no mistake; the scriptures (Ephesians 6:12) are correct when they say we are in a spiritual battle.
I recently read the book of Deuteronomy, chapters two and three, where we see God’s preemptive strikes in defeating the enemies ahead. In these verses, Moses reflects on God’s faithfulness through the wilderness thus far and thinks through the battles ahead with God. It’s almost as if God and Moses are strategizing in God’s war room as to how they will move the people and purposes of God forward. There are at least three things that God does preemptively within this dialogue as His strategy to love and dwell with His people is revealed.
1. God says that He will begin today to put fear into the hearts of those against us (Deuteronomy 2:25). Many of the responsive prayers that we find ourselves praying are because we are the ones who are fearful about what is happening. Fear is not a trait of the kingdom (the perfect love inside us drives it out - 1 John 4:18), but God uses fear to divide, confuse and defeat our enemies. God preemptively causes our enemies to fear the movement of God. As we study our culture, many of those who have set themselves up as enemies of God are acting out of their fear of Him. Fear never wins; love always does. So Jesus sets his enemies up to fear his people so that love can prevail.
2. God preemptively made the enemy King, King Sihon of Heshbon, obstinate and hard of heart (Deuteronomy 2:30). God made him hard of heart so that his plans to foil and obstruct would fail. Experience teaches us that the obstinate, who stubbornly refuse to change or adapt, never win. By making him obstinate, God is beginning his demise. Preemptively, God makes some people obstinate so that obstinance can lead to its demise.
3. As Moses was preparing to fight a battle with King Og, God revealed to him that He had already, preemptively, given the king and his people over to the purposes of God. Can you imagine what confidence this filled Moses with – the battle he was about to fight had already been won? All he needed to do was show up and win it because God had been acting preemptively.
As Moses is looking back on his journey thus far, he sees time and time again that God was working, as He works ahead of us preemptively. In addition to this, God invites us into His war room to pray about what He will preemptively accomplish for us. God has a great plan ahead for us as we are focused on His commands, and we are invited to “preemptively pray” into what God wants to do. There are barriers, unforeseen challenges, opportunities to grab, and enemies to defeat that lie ahead for us. And we can pray that God will do today what needs to happen so that He and we can win tomorrow.
What do you need to pray for today preemptively? What challenges do you foresee that you can ask God to address today? Pray on the offensive and not the defensive. Pray with strategy rather than such a reaction. Pray that God will help you win the battle you have already won.