During a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom this past weekend, we went on a jungle trek through the park's version of "Asia." About halfway through the walking tour, I turned a corner and saw these flags waving gently in the breeze over one part of the trail. The whole area was so peaceful and serene and beautiful that I just had to stop to take a few pictures. At the time I didn’t even realize what the flags were - I just thought they were pretty! As I started walking off to rejoin my group, I heard a tour guide telling a family that they were Tibetan prayer flags. She explained that one of the ancient Buddhist beliefs is that the more tattered and frayed and faded the flags are, the closer the prayer is to being answered.
My mind keeps wandering back to those prayer flags. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. So many times I pray about something and then just leave it alone - whatever “it” is. I leave the fear or the doubt or the question or the desire or the need there. I think “Well, I’ve done my part. I've prayed. I don’t know the outcome or how God is gonna do this, so I’ll just leave it here.” I really think that in some crazy messed up way, I’ve trained myself to think that I’m annoying God by praying about the same things over and over. I'm lying to myself even though I know the truth: prayer changes things.
Many times these areas of my life - these battlefields - are the places in which I never seem to see victory. I'll do my due diligence and whisper a prayer and then step away. A few days or weeks or months later, I'll find myself with the same need or doubt or question and whispering the same prayer again. The Lord is really opening up my eyes to see that these places can not just be prayed over once and then left alone. I’m to constantly bring these requests back before the Lord. Prayer is powerful, and it changes things. And while He doesn’t need my advice or opinion about how He should move or work, He does invite me to co-labor with Him in the Kingdom, and so much of that starts in prayer. Prayer can shift things in the spiritual and the natural. It can move barriers. It can soften hearts. It can change outcomes. It can clear human obstacles.
I was talking to a friend about this photo, and he said "You know, those prayer flags remind me of the name of God that means "banner" - Jehovah Nissi." As soon as he said that, something quickened in my spirit, so I started digging around in my Bible.
In Exodus 17, the Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites. Moses stood at the top of the hill and held up his hands and the staff of God over the battle below. As long as he held his hands up to God, the Israelites were winning. If he ever dropped his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses began to tire, Aaron and Hur brought a rock over for him to sit on and then they stood next to him and helped him hold his hands steady. Moses's hands remained raised and Joshua and the Israelites defeated the Amalekites.
The really good part comes next!
Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.He said, "Because hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation."
Do you see it? He built an altar to the Lord and called it The Lord is my Banner. Banners and flags have always been a way to mark a victory. But this wasn't just any victory - it was victory because of Moses's faithfulness to keep his hands raised to the Lord during the battle. Moses never stopped praying, and victory came.
Victory can be found in prayer, but we must be unwavering, unrelenting, and steadfast. If I want to see my prayers answered, I must be diligent to stay on my face before the Lord and not grow weary in prayer. I should have tattered and frayed and faded remnants and reminders of hard prayers that were answered in my life because I chose to fight for those "its" I used to just whisper a prayer over before walking away. Battles will never be won and victory will never be mine if I'm not willing to do the hard work of fighting for my territory.
I don’t need tattered and frayed and faded prayer flags to show God’s movement in my life. I have a banner that flies over me in victory, and His name is Jehovah Nissi.