“Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”
Daniel received a revelation from God about great conflict and an impending war. This sent Daniel into a period of prayer and fasting, seeking God on what to do with this prophetic insight.
And God sent an answer – on the first day!
However, there were unseen spiritual forces at work, coming against the word of God in response to Daniel’s prayers. It took 21 days of prayer and fasting for the Lord’s message to reach Daniel via an angel of the Lord.
I can only guess what Daniel was thinking during those 21 days. Perhaps he started with great momentum, got to day 10 and began to feel discouraged as he was yet to hear from God. Maybe it took everything he had to overcome the doubt that creeped in with each day his prayers went unanswered.
No matter what Daniel was feeling, God was faithful to answer his prayers. I love that we have a God who doesn’t hesitate to respond when we talk to Him. It took Daniel’s commitment to prayer for that response to finally reach him. Who knows what would have happened if Daniel had given up before the angel got through to him!
It goes to show that God doesn’t leave our prayers unanswered. If we are yet to receive a response to our prayers, there may be other forces at work as the enemy opposes us. There are unseen spiritual forces influencing principalities and powers in our world (Ezekiel 28:11-19, 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, Ephesians 6:12). But I want you to know that as children of God, we have been given authority through Christ to overcome these powers. Sometimes, all it takes is consistency in our prayer lives.
There is power in persistent prayer!
"I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." Luke 10:19
"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 1 John 4:4
So, what does this mean considering what’s going on in our world right now? We’re constantly hearing of and seeing conflict, division, war, and natural disasters. It seems like it’s just one thing after another in a string of bad news at this time in history. There’s no escaping it, especially in our social media age as we’re confronted with images and content daily.
Obviously, living in denial is not the answer.
Giving up hope for our world and humanity is also not the answer.
So what do we do?
We turn to prayer. Not the kind of prayer we lift to God as an afterthought. Not the kind of prayer we speak out once and never again. The kind of prayer where we seek God, day after day, to bring a solution and do what only He can do.
Have you heard of the parable of the persistent widow? You’ll find it in Luke 8:1-8. Jesus shared this parable with his disciples to show them that they should always pray and never give up. In a nutshell, there was a widow who kept approaching a judge with a plea for justice. He initially refused but she kept coming back day after day and so he saw that she got justice.
And that was a harsh judge’s response to persistence! Contrast that against a kind and loving God who only seeks to bring justice for His people.
We have the honour to partner with God in prayer to see His will done in our lives and on earth. Right now, there’s a greater sense of urgency as we witness what’s happening in the world. Though things in the natural don’t appear hopeful, let’s pray for eyes to see and ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us as the body of Christ.
Let’s rise up in prayer to see God’s Kingdom come here on earth!
To stir up your desire to commit to persistent prayer, I’ll leave you with two encouraging (and convicting!) quotes:
"Without God, man cannot, and without man, God will not." Saint Augustine
"We find ourselves in the sort of universe where prayer plays a crucial role, sometimes, the deciding role. Our choices matter." John Eldredge in Moving Mountains
Have you got any stories of where it took you engaging in persistent prayer about a situation before you received the answer? If so, I would love to hear. Send me a note and we can swap stories to encourage each other in faith!
P.S. You would have noticed in the story of Daniel that he engaged in prayer and fasting. For this blog, I’ve chosen to focus on the prayer aspect rather than covering both in a single blog. If I did, you may not read it in its entirety! So, look out for part two – the fruit of fervent fasting (I can’t resist the alliteration) – coming soon.