Friday, December 9, 2016

Download MP3 (right click to save)

When America decided to go after the Taliban in its war on terrorism, there were a lot of warnings about what a difficult battleground Afghanistan can be – and what a tough enemy the Taliban would be. That's why so many of us were surprised when the Taliban fighters seemed to retreat so quickly from city after city in Northern Afghanistan as the Northern Alliance advanced back in the days of that first Gulf War. But Taliban defectors said that the relentless American bombing had really affected their morale. The U. S. military strategy going into the Afghan conflict was not a new one – begin with an air war – heavy bombing to "soften up" your enemy before the ground forces make a move. As we learned in that Gulf War, and in many other battles, that can lead to a surprisingly quick victory.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Way-Making Prayer."

Some of us have lost some of our battles – or had much tougher battles – because we didn't apply this kind of strategy. If you want to win, take some time to soften up your enemy before you go in to fight the battle. In the military, it's the air war that prepares the way. In spiritual battles, it's the prayer war.

Nehemiah models that for us in Nehemiah 1, beginning in verse 4, our word for today from the Word of God. He is a Jew serving as a servant to the king of Persia when he receives a report from Israel about the devastation of God's ancient capital city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah is really burdened to do something to rebuild the holy city, but it looks like Mission Impossible. First, it can't be done without the king's permission – something that was pretty unlikely. Secondly, where are the rebuilding resources going to come from? Nehemiah knows that humanly speaking, nothing is going to happen unless the king of Persia, the most powerful man in the world at that time, gets behind it.

So what does Nehemiah do – just go running into the king's throne room and share his burden? No, first Nehemiah goes into the Throne Room of the King of all kings to wage the prayer war that will ultimately bring about victory. After hearing about the devastated situation back home, Nehemiah says, "For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love. Your servant is praying before You day and night for Your servants, the people of Israel. Oh Lord, give Your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.'" This man was the king.

As a result of what was at least four months of this kind of praying, the king's heart is open. He empowers Nehemiah to lead the rebuilding of Jerusalem and even provides the resources to do it. Just one illustration, and there are lots of them, of how a prayer campaign can literally prepare the way for a victory that would otherwise be impossible. Maybe like the victory you need right now.

So, before you go charging into the battle, would you soften up the enemy's hold with passionate prayer. Pray for hearts to be softened, for doors to be opened, for Satan to be paralyzed, for the help you need, for the resources you need, and for the dangers to be minimized. And like Nehemiah did, focus your prayer on the greatness of your God, not how great the challenge is – and clean out whatever sin-garbage you might have that could cost you the victory and God's decisive blessing. When you pray like that, you are paving the way for a victory that will be nothing short of amazing.