Preemption is an action taken to check other action beforehand. If you preempt something, you are putting something ahead of something else that is scheduled to take place. For example, if a person seized land before anyone else had a chance to acquire or even make a bid to acquire that land, we would say that he preempted the land. Radio and TV stations follow a pre-arranged schedule. But when something unexpected happens like the Boston bombing, news coverage of the tragedy preempts the schedule.
This word is used a lot in warfare. When used this way, the preemptive action is a preemptive strike or attack carried out to prevent something else from happening, especially something that will harm, something possible, anticipated, and feared. It is a preventative, a deterrent designed to gain the upper hand over an enemy.
To be proactive means to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation. To be preemptive is to take an action against something possible, anticipated, and feared.
Job was preemptive when “he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all (his children). For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” As he later admitted, he did this out of fear, but it was, nevertheless, a preemptive action. He was doing something to prevent the possibility of something else from happening.
Putting on the armor of God is a preemptive action. (Ephesians 6:14-17) This is both a preemptive and a proactive thing to do. It is proactive because it is so that we “may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (vs. 11).
But, after putting the armor on, we are told to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication. . .” The wording of this instruction lets us know that the prayers we pray after putting on the armor are not to be prayers about something that’s already happened. They are watchful prayers looking for what’s coming or what might come.
We are to be people of the possibility. We know how to do this when it comes to positive things, except that we usually call it dreaming. And when we move past our dreams, putting faith, action, blood, sweat and tears into the dream, we become a visionary. The world celebrates visionaries – as well they should.
We also consider the possibility of negative stuff. The problem is that when we consider the possible bad, painful and negative, we usually end up walking in fear and getting ourselves so worked up that we become paralyzed, frantic, depressed, totally useless and make those around us miserable too. This is not pleasing to God and it causes our prayers to be nullified.
So what do we do? Most people either deny the negative or they refuse to look at it, not wanting to see the possibility of evil. “Oh, just look on the bright side,” we’re told. And so we should. But looking on the bright side should not exclude us from seeing the dark side. Paul told us to be watchful in our praying. Watchful for what? Watchful for what the principalities, powers and rulers of the darkness are doing and planning to do. Watchful for what God is doing. It’s not an either/or. It’s both/and.
Many believers today tend to rely on the prophetic word, dreams and visions to tell us what is coming and what to expect. This is good and should be utilized more than ever. Because of a prophetic word about a storm coming in New Jersey, prayer teams took that word seriously and pray-walked up and down the New Jersey coast line, using every strategy God gave them. We don’t even want to imagine how much worse Hurricane Sandy would have been without those preemptive prayers.
There was also a prophetic word about an explosion in Boston. Because of this word in 2011, Jon and Jolene Hamil of Lamplighter Ministries took steps to be proactive in their ministry toward Boston. As they sought God as to how to be proactive with this word, and followed through with His instructions, when the physical explosions occurred, they were prepared for the explosion of the Spirit in Boston. In addition, many churches were already connecting with each other. Immediately after the bombing, a web sit was up and running so that needs and resources could be easily connected – those who needed meals or a place to stay connected to the people willing to feed and/or house them, etc. All of that would not have happened if the people of God had not been preemptive in follow-up of the prophetic word.
But, the prophetic word should not be the only way we are to find out about the need for preemptive action. Our very prayers are to be preemptive. Study, research and deductive reasoning must also be used. Years ago, Doris Wagner developed a method for taking people through deliverance based on deductive reasoning. She did this because she saw the need to help people get free, felt the call of God to do something about it, yet doesn’t have the gift of discerning of spirits. After many success stories, primarily with pastors and Christian leaders, she began to teach others her method of deliverance by deductive reasoning. I took her training; it is very involved and takes a lot longer than it would if the spiritual gift of discerning of spirits were used. But it is still very effective. It works.
The same is true concerning preemptive praying. Yes, we’re to seek the gift of prophecy and we need a seer anointing. But according to Ephesians 6:18, we’re also to be watchful. Watchful of what? Of what’s going on in the world. Of what the possibilities are. And we’re to exercise perseverance in watching.
Jesus said, “If you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:3
The result of being watchful is that it will make us either fearful or faithful. In Judges 7, God gave Gideon a prophetic word about coming against the Midianites. “But,” He said, “if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Being fearful to act on the prophetic word, Gideon took Purah, snuck down to the Midianite camp and listened. He did something and extended some effort to know what was going on. Then he devised a clever preemptive plan and told his men to watch and do what he did. The result was a resounding victory. Lesson: We need to watch what is going on in the world as well as what God is doing in it.
That was preemption in physical warfare. In 2 Kings 11 there is an interesting story of a preemptive act that had to do with spiritual warfare. After King Ahaziah, king of Judah, was killed, his mother Athaliah destroyed all the royal heirs and took the throne for herself. What she didn’t know was that Ahaziah’s sister took preemptive action by hiding his one-year-old son, Johash, first in a bedroom, then in the house of the Lord for six years. When the boy was seven years old, Jehoiada the priest took preemptive action to make him king and get rid of Athaliah. He brought him out with armed escorts who literally surrounded the king on all sides so that he could be crowned king in place of his grandmother. After the crowning, of course, Athaliah found out about it, threw a fit and was killed. The result of this secret, preemptive strategy was that a covenant was made between the Lord, the newly-crowned king and the people. The altars to Baal were broken in pieces, the city was quiet and Johash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which his mentor, Jehoiada the priest, instructed him.
This is an excellent example of preemptive prayer that resulted in preemptive action. Tragedy happened. But preemptive action took place, followed by six years of preemptive prayer. It was prayer focused on a final outcome rather than what was at the time. The result was victory not only for the rightful heir to the throne, but for the people of the land and the will of the Lord.
These two stories show we need to pray preemptively for tragedies like the Boston bombing as well as for each other. We need to pray preemptively into prophecy. We also need to arm ourselves and surround each other as children of the King so that each member of the Body of Christ can take their rightful place in the kingdom, doing whatever job it is that God has assigned to them.
2 Chronicles 23:6 says, “All the people shall keep the watch of the Lord.” Keeping the watch of the Lord isn’t just about looking to see what is going on right now; it is about looking to see what is coming.
When the walls around Jerusalem were being rebuilt, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites conspired together to not only attack Jerusalem but to also create confusion. (Nehemiah 4:7-8; 7:3) So Nehemiah set a watch both day and night. Some of these watchmen gave praise and thanks to the Lord “watch by watch.” (Nehemiah 12:24)
Thus we see preemptive praise and thanksgiving. Preemptive praise and thanksgiving is giving God the glory for His answers to our prayers as if they’ve already arrived and thanking Him as if it’s already done. Preemptive thanksgiving is taking our petitions and converting them into expressions of praise. Doing this lays a foundation for present tense blessing. It also counteracts apathy. How can you be apathetic when you’re worshipping God and thanking Him for your future as well as your now? Preemptive praise and thanksgiving keeps you on an even keel spiritually so that you don’t become distraught when tragedies like Sandy Hook or the Boston bombing happen. And when we get into the habit of preemptive prayer and thanksgiving, we’re able to immediately get into prayer for all the good that God is going to bring out of such tragedies for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven! It enables us to see that while evil does exist and bad things happen, God is able to rule and overrule. We can see this truth over and over and over in the pages of Scripture. We can see it in our modern-day events.
Look at how the Holocaust prepared the Jews to cry out for their own land. Years before, in the late 1800s, prophecy-believing Christians had discerned the times and knew that it was time for them to go back to their own homeland. Their preemptive prayers led them to preemptive action to establish a witness for Yeshua and to help the Jews to not only move there but to live a better life once there. Unfortunately, the majority of Jews were so entrenched in whatever country they were in that they had to be forced by evil to want to move. Was this really how God wanted them to go back to the Promised Land? Of course not. But God looks long-range. He’ll allow our sins and lack of preemptive thinking to back us into a corner for the betterment of the Kingdom and for our own good.
Preemptive prayers cause a lot of things to be averted and/or lessoned. In 2001 Gary and I led two preemptive prayer journeys around DFW Airport. Shortly thereafter, 9/11 happened. But prayer had already been made and, unlike at other major airports, there were no terrorist attacks at DFW. There was one possibility but it was quickly thwarted.
Getting more nitty-gritty . . . . When we first moved out to the country, as we were returning home after dark one night, Gary felt led to pray a preemptive prayer for safety from animals. Neither of us had ever prayed that before. Five minutes later, we narrowly missed a skunk in the road. We’ve continued to pray protection from animals on the road ever since and have many stories of near misses. Even when a deer jumped in front of our car on New Year’s Eve 2016, it did little damage. We were even able to drive the car the rest of the way home and later to a body shop.
So, what are some practical things we can do to facilitate preemptive prayer so that we aren’t always thinking of the worst case scenario?
First of all, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to shine His spotlight of truth on ourselves. When Israel crossed over the Jordan and began to engage in war for the land, they were fooled into making a covenant to not harm the Gibeonites. Preemptive prayer did not take place and the scripture sadly relates, “But they did not ask counsel of the Lord.” (Joshua 9:14) Because of logical, soulish thinking, the Israelites were trapped by the covenant they made. Consequently, the Gibeonites became a snare to the Israelites by their pagan gods and practices. Where have we come into agreement with the enemy? This story highlights our need to pray preemptively over ourselves. It is why I began to pray for myself several years ago, to become emotionally strong enough to bear up under an avalanche of news about terrible pain and suffering in the world. I don’t want to ever be defeated by my feelings, by sorrow or by sharing the pain of others. How do you need to pray for yourself in order to face the days ahead? Use your reactions today as a clue.
Together, preemptive prayer, praise and thanksgiving form a powerful tag team to defeat depression and despondency. They draw our attention away from our hurts and needs, focusing our affection on the character of our faithful God.
In Ezek. 4:1-3 God told Ezekiel to draw a map of Jerusalem on a clay tablet and construct various things on and around it and play war much like little boys do with Lincoln Logs and army men. But it wasn’t a game. It was a preemptive, prophetic act of prayer, the result of which was that a nation and a city were brought down and God’s purpose was achieved.
Translation: Get out a map of your city, county, state, or whatever nation God lays on your heart to pray for. Ask Him to highlight where and what He wants you to pray for. Seek His heart.
Post pictures of the people you want to pray for on a regular basis. Ask God to give you prayers to pray preemptively. As a prayer partner, April Baucom said, “This is a time when we must have a greater gift in the seer dimension to thwart the plans and purposes of the enemy in our sphere of authority.
Take time to ask Holy Spirit to bring to our mind’s eye what needs to be seen and prayed about. Ask and you shall receive!
Then keep the leadership advised of what is important and relevant.
We all might just have a piece to the puzzle! Is there ground that we need to take back corporately and individually?”
BOTTOM LINE: Preemptive prayer, praise and thanksgiving are the survival tools that are necessary for victory over circumstances and for personal physical and spiritual survival.