But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. Psalm 38:15 ESV
God answers prayer. I love the certainty of that promise.
But our opening scripture also reveals another truth: We often have to wait for that answer.
The waiting frustrates most of us. In this world of instant gratification, often God’s movement seems a bit slow. But what if it isn’t God that’s keeping you from your answer?
Today we will glimpse two prayers from a gatekeeper, a man whose prayers released God’s deliverance on this earth. You’ve probably heard of him. His name is Daniel.
Our friend Daniel is most famous for having survived a den of lions, but that’s not what we’ll be talking about today. Today we’ll see how he served the people of God as a watchman, discerning God’s Word and releasing His will through prayer.
In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Daniel 9:2
Daniel lived in Babylon, the result of Israel being carried off into captivity because sin had removed God’s covering of protection. Jeremiah had warned them in advance of their exile, declaring they would serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.
Daniel realized those 70 years were coming to a close and it was time for God to deliver His people once more. So, he put on his party hat and waited to see God move.
Well, not exactly. He did precisely what Elijah did last week when God had revealed His will. He prayed.
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy … I prayed to the Lord my God… Daniel 9:3-4
Interesting consistency, don’t you think? God declares His will, and a human vessel comes into agreement with Him through prayer to see that what God said would happen actually does.
Are you beginning to understand the vital importance of prayer, dear one? You and I won’t see God manifest His power without it.
Daniel understood that and dropped to his knees. I love what scripture reveals about his answer.
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. Daniel 9:20-21
Can you even imagine it? Daniel hadn’t even finished praying, and an angel showed up mid-sentence to give him God’s answer.
I bet you’re wishing you were on Gabriel’s “to do” list today.
Look at what Gabriel tells him.
At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Daniel 9:23
The NIV puts it this way. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you.
God released His answer the moment Daniel started asking.
Here’s what you need to know, dear one. Every time you utter a prayer with a heart that seeks God’s will, He moves. Something happens in the heavenly realms whether you see it at that moment or not.
This particular time, when Daniel prayed, God blessed him with an immediate answer. But let’s see what happens a few years later when Daniel approaches God the same way.
In Daniel 10, under the reign of a new king, Daniel received a vision from God and began to seek Him in prayer and fasting for understanding of it. We’re told he fasted, prayed and didn’t bathe for three straight weeks before a visitor arrived with a word from God.
“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. Daniel 10:12
Once again, we see God confirming that He heard and answered Daniel’s prayer on the first day he started asking. But let’s see what else the visitor tells him.
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 10:13-14
What in the world? God dispatched a messenger immediately to deliver His answer, but the prince of the Persian kingdom detained him for three straight weeks until the archangel Michael came to help him so he could slip away.
Listen, dear one. You and I have no idea what’s happening even now in the heavenly realms. Satan’s forces work hard to hinder God’s movement on earth at every turn. What we just read describes angels and demons battling in the unseen.
God sent His answer, but evil forces sought to hinder it from getting through to the earth. Why? Because presently the earth is Satan’s realm, and the enemy comes against God’s own “in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:12)
But here’s our amazing promise!
You are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
God’s will always trumps the enemy’s efforts, as long as there is a human vessel willing to bend the knee and align himself with God to see it accomplished on earth.
Daniel prayed for 3 straight weeks. The angel met resistance for precisely 21 days. Daniels’s persistence in prayer bound the work of the enemy and loosed God’s will so it could become realized in his life.
Does that sound familiar, dear one? Jesus taught that the gates of hell cannot prevail against a praying church.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19
Perhaps we should pray like we believe Him.