Recently, I watched one of those cable shows about modern technology. They described a new breed of missiles. These missiles have the ability to loiter. Up to this point I always thought “loitering” was something that was prohibited. In the small town where I grew up I can still remember the local policeman walking up to groups of kids standing beneath the “No Loitering Allowed” signs and telling them, “move along.”
Modern missiles can now be launched from hundreds of miles away and sent into a targeted region before an attack begins. Computer savvy warriors fly these missiles in a way similar to a kid using a joystick to play a video game. Once the missiles arrive in the targeted region they simply fly around in circles, loitering behind a nearby mountain range just out of enemy radar. When the time is right, and the target is acquired, a new command is sent to the on-board computer and the smart missile flies over the mountain range and into the adjacent valley destroying the target. Depending on the fuel economy mode some of these missiles can do this for hours and even days, if needed.
As I heard of this futuristic weaponry I thought of prayer and the warfare each Christian faces. Many of us pray for the immediate needs of our families and ministries – the things we see and feel, but have you considered that God has us pray for future battles? In future battles, when our lives have yet to arrive on a distant battlefield, our current prayers are being sent up into eternity to loiter until the time when the Commander of our faith releases them into a future target. As the Spirit prompts us to pray our prayers are gathered and then, in God's perfect battle plan, delivered back into time in a massive onslaught against the encampments of hell. Our prayers wait for the voice of the Lord to deliver their payload of victory.
Revelation 5:8 describes an end-time scenario that speaks of stored prayers that are released at a later date.
"And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”
Some of the prayers that will be released in Revelation 5 will be thousands of years old. You and I are praying some of those prayers right now. In these golden bowls are the prayers of the Apostle Paul and other believers from the Early Church. In these golden bowls are the prayers of the persecuted church of today coming from some distant village deep inside China. The bowls in heaven contain prayers that span thousands of years of Kingdom history.
In the Book of Joshua the great warrior is about to die. He is reviewing Israel's history and future with God and how their battles will be fought. In Joshua 24:12-13 Joshua, speaking for the Lord, said,
“And I sent terror ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build―the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them.”
Maybe this is what Paul was talking about when he told us to put on our spiritual battle garb and simply stand. You and I may show up on a battlefield dressed for war with a sword and a bow, but the battle always belongs to the Lord.
Throughout history, the Church has walked among the ruins of hell's encampment, knowing that God had gone before them. We, also, will walk into places of victory. We will realize that the prayers of our ancestors have been poured out upon our impossible situations. We will be humbled and amazed at what we see around us.
Can you imagine what it will be like to know that many of us are about to walk onto battlefields where we will see the enemy already devastated? Many will walk into the shattered encampments of hell and know that something supernatural has visited the battlefield prior to their arrival.
As we come upon these places of victory what should our response be? As the ruins of hell smolder around us God is asking His people to raise up the sound of worship that may contain words like these;
"God has visited this place in power before our arrival. The sword and bow we brought to the battle did not secure the victory. Before we arrived God became a terror to the things that terrify us. He has poured out His glory and the prayers of His saints and has devastated the work of hell in this place. This victory belongs to the Lord! Blessed be His Name!”