I seem to be waking up quite a bit in the wee hours of the morning lately…and, when I do, I pray. The news here these days is filled with doom and gloom stories…murders, riots, strikes, corruption scandals, and the like…very little positive. One can almost feel the heaviness in the air.

So, quite naturally, when I woke up at 3 AM this morning, I started to pray for South Africa…and as I was praying, I saw in my mind’s eye an image of my favourite Julia Child’s Tarragon Casserole Chicken. Yes, I did check to see if I really was awake. But there it was, as clear as day…in the darkness, that is. The aluminium foil covered chicken dish, ready to go into the oven…only, it wasn’t my casserole dish…it was shaped like South Africa and it was covering South Africa. As I continued to pray I saw that each prayer pierced the foil, allowing the light of the Lord to shine through onto the dark country below. Hmm, interesting…

What on earth could this mean?

Then the Lord brought to mind a story from the book of Daniel…the prophet was praying for his people. He had learned from the book of Jeremiah that Jerusalem was to lie desolate for seventy years. Realising that this time period was coming to an end, he began to confess the sins of his people as if they were his own and to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Now, we know that Daniel was a righteous man because we are told as much a few times in the book bearing his name, but he had no problem confessing the sins of the nation collectively…so I began to do the same.

Daniel’s prayers ended with these words: “O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open Your eyes and see our despair. See how Your city – the city that bears Your name – lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of Your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For Your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for Your people and Your city bear Your name.”

The interesting thing is, there was a delay…of twenty-one days! Not because God was hard of hearing or indifferent or unwilling or unable, but because the messenger sent to Daniel from God had been delayed by someone – or something – called the “spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia”. He was delayed until Michael, the Archangel, came to his rescue.

But that’s Old Testament stuff, right? Not so fast…

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that “…we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” There are unseen forces at work in the heavenly places…and they are working against us. But we are also told in several places that these forces, including their diabolical leader, have been conquered through the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus on the cross and that, if we resist him, he must flee.

So, my prayers shifted, once again, to spiritual warfare. I prayed to the Lord to send thousands of angels to do warfare against these forces of evil hovering over this country…especially the spirit of lawlessness that seems to be running rampant throughout the nation.

I prayed for the purging of wickedness from the face of this land…for the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit…for conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment…for repentance and revival. And, in my own words, I echoed the prayer of righteous Daniel…”We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of Your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act!”

Prayer pokes holes in heavenly places…prayer somehow lets the light of Christ shine through. And so I am happy to be woken up in the wee hours of the morning as I know that I am dependant on the Lord…without Him…without His help…without His Holy Spirit…I am nothing and I can do nothing. I need Him…and so I pray…I plead. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer. Cast out all that is evil…all that is not from You…and bring Your peace to bear upon this country. In the victorious Name of Jesus!