I’m not quite sure what it is about underdog stories, but it seems we all enjoy a good comeback story. Even if you’re cheering for the opposite side we can’t help but to be impressed when we see a little guy going up against a big guy and winning, or a team that’s outnumbered, or out skilled, or far behind in points that manages to make an unexpected win. Movies like Rocky, the Mighty Ducks, The Karate Kid, Remember the Titans. We love to see someone beat the odds.
In Joshua 6 we have the story of the Israelites on their very first military campaign. They’ve crossed in to the Promised Land and are faced with their first opponents. The people of Jericho. The Israelites are by no means seasoned warriors. In fact, the entire people group, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, are all under the age of 60, with 40 of those years having been spent in the desert wandering. They’re former slaves, with no homes, no cities, no forges, no formal military, or formal military weapons, no hope, no chance, no way. And now they’ve come up to Jericho, one of the most fortified cities in the land of Canaan and God has told them to conquer this city.
The city of Jericho was situated on a hill surrounded by an earthen embankment. At the base of the embankment was a stone retaining wall that measured between 12-15 feet high. On top of that retaining wall was another wall made of mud-brick that measured between 20-26 feet high. That’s nearly 46 feet of wall from ground level. Over 4.5 stories high. On the other side of that wall, the embankment was about 6 acres around the city, filled wit houses and farms and villagers. Moving inward still, there was another 20-26 ft high mud-brick wall, which surrounded 9 acres of city centre. Jericho was not a city easily penetrated. The height of the city walls, and the high ground on which the city stood gave archers a strong advantage against any invading force.The Israelites were facing an impossible task, one that they would never have been able to conquer had God not intervened for them.
What is Your Jericho?
Joshua 6:2, 2But God spoke to Joshua, “Look sharp now. I’ve already given Jericho to you, along with its king and its strong warriors.” What promises are you praying around? What miracles are you marching around? What dreams does your life revolve around? Drawing prayer circles means identifying your Jericho. What battle has God brought you to? What dream does God want for your life? What miracle are you wanting God to perform in your life? God is and always has been for us, but the problem is that most of us aren’t clear on what we want God to do for us!
The reason we find our prayers boring is because we don’t know what our Jericho is! We’re not sure of the dreams we want God to fulfill; we’re not sure of the plans we want God to bless; we’re not sure of the miracles we want God to perform in our lives. When we are unsure of what we want god to do for us, our prayers aren’t just boring to us; they’re uninspiring to God! Well-developed faith results in well-defined prayers, and well-defined prayers lead to a well-lived life.
Your Jericho won’t always be the same. Your dreams may change and your prayer circles may differ in different stages or seasons in your life. But just because the battle changes, doesn’t mean your tactics should. No matter what the battle is, we still need to rely on God to do the miracles for us! Whatever your Jericho is, God will promise, “I have already given it you.” God’s promise is that the answer is already on its way!
Circle The Wall
At God’s direction, Joshua commanded the army to march around the walls of Jericho. When the army circled the wall, they were at the base of the first wall. They had a first hand view of the walls towering 45 feet in height. They knew what their goal was; that their plan was to conquer Jericho. They knew what that meant; what they were circling; where the boundaries lied. We need to get up close and personal, establish and define the boundaries in which we want God to work. Your prayers must be circled and your boundaries must be clearly defined in order for God to begin answering your prayer circles.
God doesn’t answer vague prayer requests so be specific when you pray! The reason we circle a prayer is to define exactly what we want God to answer. If our prayers are vague and open ended how would we ever know if God answered them? “If our prayers aren’t specific, God gets robbed of the glory that He deserves because we second-guess whether or not He actually answered them. We never know if the answers were the results of specific prayer or general coincidences that would have happened anyway” (The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson). Define the prayer, and specify with God so that when God ultimately answers you’ll have no reason to doubt that this was anything else but God!
One More Lap
God laid out the battle plan for Joshua. He told him, how to march, when to march, and for how long. He told him that on the seventh day they would march around seven times instead of just once, and after the final lap, with shouts and trumpet sound the impenetrable walls would come crashing down Joshua relays the plan to his army, but he never tells them how many days they’re going to march. He never tells them the purpose of their marching. The Israelites march around the city never knowing why, or to what end they were marching.
When they started circling the walls no one knew how many days they’d do this. When they reached the seventh day no one knew what would happen at the end of the seventh lap. When they reached the seventh lap no one knew what their shouts would do. But they trusted. They trusted that God had a plan in all this madness; trusted that God was going to do something; trusted that God would give them the victory one way or another.
Could you imagine how this story would have ended if the Israelites would’ve given up on the sixth day? Imagine the miracle they would’ve missed out on because they stopped one lap short. Can you imagine the miracles you may have missed out on because you stopped circling one lap too soon or stopped praying one prayer too soon, or because you doubted one second too early.
Don’t stop one lap away! Circle the wall until the walls fall down! Circle your prayers until God answers you! God promises that the victory is already yours! You don’t know when God is going to answer, but if we persistently circle, if we refuse to give up too soon, then we can know with confidence that God will answer! No matter how tough your circumstances are, no matter how impossible the goal or dream or prayer request is, no matter how impenetrable the walls seem, there is nothing our God isn’t capable of doing. There is no dream too big for God. There is no goal too difficult for God There is no request too impossible for God to answer. Find your Jericho. Circle the Walls. Don’t quit, don’t stop, don’t give in. Claim your promise!
God help me to discover what battles you bring me to in my life. Help me to identify the Jericho’s in my life; those difficult challenges you want me to overcome. Help me to be specific in my prayers with you, and help me to give you all the glory when you come through in miraculous ways for me. Help me to be persistent in my life and give me the strength to pray without ceasing, circling my walls until you give me the victory you promised is already mine. Amen