On Praying Strategically
David W. Hegg
In 2 Kings 3 we find a fairly unusual story about 3 kings doing battle against two. It seems that the king of Moab decided he would stop paying his taxes to the mighty king of Israel. So, the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom ganged up together and decided to take Moab down. But, they had a problem. After getting their warriors together and starting off, they found out there wasn't enough water to support their troops. Seven days into the trip, they had nothing but sand all around them. So, they decided to get some divine help, and went to see Elisha.
At Elisha's house they laid out the seriousness of their problem. "Unless we get water, the armies of Israel and Judah and Edom will be wiped out by that scoundrel Moab! Call on God - he'll talk to you! - and get Him to send us the water we need." So, Elisha called on God and sure enough, God said He'd send enough water to fill the whole valley, enough for all the troops, and all the animals.
But then the Lord went further, and here's where the story really gets interesting. God said "O, and by the way, I'll also give the Moab army into your hands, and you will have a stunning military victory!"
It's the "O, and by the way" part that intrigues me here. What is God doing? He is rebuking them for their shortsightedness in their asking. He is calling their attention - and ours - to the fact that they were too caught up in the logistical, and had completely ignored the strategic.
In military terms, there are three spheres of action. The logistical area is all about getting the supplies to the troops so they can make war. Its about shoes and weapons, water and food, clothes and gear. A huge part of making war is making sure that the logistical plans are in place, properly maintained, and are being executed with success. If not, nobody eats, and nobody fights.
Next is the sphere of the tactical. This is all about plans to win individual battles. Which units will be involved, and when and where? What deceptions will be used? what diversions? Since success in battle will depend on the tactics used, those plans are painstakingly crafted, analyzed, and put into play.
The last area is the strategic. This one is simple: what will win the war? This is big picture stuff, and it demands the greatest levels of knowledge, patience, courage, and unity. This is where all is won or lost.
In the 2 Kings 3 story, the kings were all about the logistics. They needed water, so they asked for water. But God reminded them that, had they asked for a strategic victory, His gracious, positive response would have included taking care of all their logistical necessities! If God lets you win the war, He'll certainly provide all the water you need to drink while fighting it.
So, what does this tell us about prayer? All too often we live on the level of logistics. We're concerned about the necessities of life, of health, of happiness. And certainly, the Lord did say we could talk to Him about our need of daily bread! But, we'd all agree that sometimes we get so enamored with the logistical needs that we leave no time to pray "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven." But that's the strategic part, and its that part that God has promised to provide.
He hasn't told us that we'll never be sick, or disappointed, or get laid off, or watch those we love encounter adversity and danger. But He has promised that we can partner with Him is rescuing the perishing, and that through the Word and Spirit we can confidently extend the grace and mercy of Christ to all around us. We are the "household" of God, and as such, we play a strategic role in extending the Kingdom authority of Christ through our righteousness and our witness. These are strategic opportunities, and when God is pleased to grant us success in this arena, the other logistical things pale in comparison. Now don't get me wrong! They are important; but, how sad it would be if, in worrying so much about whether or not there will be enough water, we forgot to petition God about succeeding in battle, and winning the war!