Every new season from God seems to have a theme, catch phrase or byword that characterizes it. In a recent season, one catch phrase expressed a particular hunger in our hearts that became the theme of many of our prayer lives: “Increase our territory.”
The widespread appeal of that phrase and its message—that God wants to increase the territory of those who call out to Him—was apparent in the almost frenzied popularity of a slim, simple little book by Bruce Wilkinson called The Prayer of Jabez. The book expounds on Jabez’s prayer, recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10, which included a cry for an increase in territory. The Bible says that God granted his request.
Lift Up Your Eyes
God wants to grant our requests, too. But before He can increase our territory, He wants us to have a clear vision of what that territory is.
We can learn a great deal from the story of Lot and Abram in Genesis 12 and 13. When God called Abram to leave his homeland and begin a faith-journey to “a land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1), Abram obeyed, taking his family—including his nephew, Lot—with him.
But at some point, God made it obvious that the two men needed to go their own ways. “Please separate from me,” Abram said to Lot in Genesis 13:9. “If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”
The Bible says that Lot looked out over the land and “chose for himself” what appeared to be the best part: the fertile, well-watered plain of Jordan to the east (vv. 10-11). He left Abram and headed for the plain, taking his family, flocks and herds with him.
Lot probably thought he’d gotten the better end of the deal. After all, he’d had first choice. But he was mistaken.
His land, it turned out, contained the hedonistic city of Sodom. And ultimately his decision cost him his family and all the blessings God wanted to pour out on him.
Lot made his choice based on what he could see in the natural. His sight was limited by what he could see with his eyes. He had a vision problem!
In contrast, when Abram staked out his territory, he did not survey the land, check the demographics or conduct a poll. He allowed God to show him the land that was right for him.
“Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward,” God told him, “for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” (vv. 14-15).
Abram’s only requirement was to look. God had already given him everything he could see!
How do you find your territory? The real question is: How far can you see?
Abram’s territory was determined by what he saw. He looked where God told him to look, and he saw what God wanted him to possess. Of course, he could not physically see all the land or all the descendants still to come; but through faith he knew the extent of his territory.
Like Abram, your territory is limited only by your eyesight—your spiritual vision. When God tells you to look, you must do so with eyes of faith.
The nature of faith is to believe the impossible and see the invisible. That’s why visionaries are often misunderstood: They see what isn’t there—yet!
Your territory may not look like much in the natural—perhaps nothing more than a steamy valley full of sand and old bones. But appearances can be deceiving. Just as God blew into Elijah’s valley of dry bones and brought a resurrection of life, so God can move through the barren areas of your territory and bring life and increase.
In Abram’s (Abraham’s) case, his territory was an actual, physical location. Even today, the city of Jerusalem is in conflict because it is part of the land that God promised to Abraham. His descendants must continue to fight to possess the territory that he saw with spiritual eyes so long ago.
For most of us, however, our territory is not land as much as it is our sphere of influence—the place and ministry God has chosen for each of us. Perhaps your territory is your home, your family, your church. Perhaps it’s the homeless shelter where you volunteer or the country God has prompted you to pray for.
Essentially, your territory is the call of God on your life. But your territory is not limited to your lifetime. Just as Abraham did, you must look beyond “right now” into the land of your descendants. You must occupy your land for the sake of your children and your children’s children. You cannot see the full extent of your inheritance unless you develop your spiritual sense of sight.