(10) And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.
(11) And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you." And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.
(12) Then he said to me, "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.
(13) The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia,
(14) and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come."
The organ in a small church broke down one Sunday morning during the opening hymn. A member of the congregation happened to be a organ repairman, and he immediately went to work on the instrument. Fortunately it was not a major problem. He had it fixed by the time the pastor was in the middle of the sermon. He quietly passed a note to the organist which read: "After prayer, the power will be on." That is a sentence we should remember and apply. After Prayer, the power will be on.
A Welsh woman who lived in a remote valley in Wales went to a great deal of trouble and expense to have electrical power installed in her home. However, after a couple of months, the electric company noticed she did not seem to use much electricity. Thinking there might be a problem with the hookup, they sent a meter reader out to check. The man came to her door and said, "We have just checked your meter and it does not seem that you are using much electricity. Is there a problem?" "Oh no" she said. "We are quite satisfied. We turn on the electric lights every night to see how to light our oil lamps and then we switch them off again."
Now let us think about that woman's actions for a moment. Why did she not make more use of her electricity? She believed in electricity. She believed the promises of the electric company. She went to a great deal of trouble and expense to have her house wired for it. However, she did not understand the potential of electricity in her home, and so she used its power hardly at all.
Many people use prayer much the same way. They believe in prayer. They know of the promises of God. They have even read and heard stories about answered prayers, but they use the power of prayer hardly at all.
The reason this happens, at least for some Christians, is that they do not understand how prayer works, and they may believe it does not really matter whether they pray or not. They may say that God is going to do what God is going to do, so why pray? If you believe that God has already worked everything out, everything is predestined from the beginning of time, why pray? Or some others may regard prayer as an instrument of last resort. When everything else fails, they pray. This is sort of like the “Hail Mary” pass in football, a last desperate act with very little chance of success.
Some have prayed before without success, and so they have given up on prayer. Cable television tycoon Ted Turner has often been quoted as being critical of Christianity. Turner made some revealing remarks at a banquet in Orlando, Fla., in 1990, where he was given an award by the American Humanist Association for his work on behalf of the environment. Turner said he had a strict Christian upbringing and at one time considered becoming a missionary. “I was saved seven or eight times,” the newspaper quoted him as saying, but he added that he became disenchanted with Christianity after his sister died, despite his prayers. [Spokesman-Review, May 1, 1990. www.christianglobe.com/illustrations/prayer unanswered]
In regard to our prayers, probably every one of us has considered giving up on having some of our prayers answered. Probably more than just a few of us actually have given up and stopped praying, maybe not altogether, but at least stopped praying for certain things. We quit praying because of discouragement and doubt. We quit praying because deep down we wonder if prayer really makes a difference. So how do we keep going when we feel like bailing out?
Daniel is our role model.· Daniel prayed 3 times every day.· He prayed in his room.· He prayed in the lions’ den.· He prayed for wisdom.· He prayed for guidance.
In chapter 10, we find Daniel struggling in prayer. In v2, we are told that he had been praying for 21 days. Many Christians would have trouble praying for 21 days about anything. How long have you prayed about any given problem? Have you ever had a burden that you prayed for over and over? Let me see a show of hands, has anyone ever prayed for 3 weeks about the same thing?
Jesus told a parable on this subject, about an unjust judge and a persistent widow. He also told us the point of the parable in the opening verse of Luke 18—that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.” The KJV says we should pray and “not faint.” “To faint” is to be dizzy and weak and near the point of collapse. The implication is that if we pray, we will not be that way. The choice is ours. If we do not pray, we might lose heart. Jesus says, Keep on praying. Your prayers are more effective than you know.
“George Mueller, the founder of a great Christian orphanage work in England in the 1800’s, was a powerful man of prayer. He knew the importance of keeping at prayer even when the answer seemed delayed. When he was young he began praying that two of his friends might be saved. He prayed for them for more than sixty years. One of the men was converted shortly before his death at what was probably the last service Mueller held. The other was saved within a year of his death.” The question is: What would have happened had Mueller given up?
[James Montgomery Boice. The Parables of Jesus. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983) p. 158]
To return to the parable Jesus told in Luke 18, there are only 2 characters in the parable, a corrupt judge and a persistent widow. The widow is involved in some lawsuit which she needs to have resolved. she has several factors stacked against her. First of all, she is a widow and has little standing before the law. In the society of that day a woman did not go to court. The bible several times mentions that widows were often oppressed and taken advantage of legally. Secondly, since she is a widow, she is also probably poor, and she cannot bride this corrupt judge.
Thus, she has no way to even get a hearing in court, but as hopeless as her situation must have seemed, she was persistent. Everyday she asked the judge to hear her case--everywhere, not just in court. She pleaded with him in front of his friends and his colleagues; She confronted him in the street; She pestered him in the market; but he put her off. What he wanted was a bribe. But the widow would not give up. She kept after him, kept demanding that he give her justice. Finally, the judge got tired of it. He said, I will hear her case just to get rid of her. And the point of the parable is that if an unjust judge can be brought to give justice, how much more will God do when he hears his people's prayers.
Or as Jesus said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily” (Luke 18:6-8 ESV). Thus Jesus says, Pray. Do not give up.
A page from John Wesley’s Diary reads like a litany of total frustration followed by final triumph: “Sunday morning, May 5, preached in St. Ann’s, was asked not to come back anymore. Sunday p.m., May 5, preached at St. John’s, deacons said, "Get out and stay out." Sunday a.m., May 12, preached at St. Jude’s, can’t go back there either. Sunday p.m., May 12, preached at St. George’s, kicked out again. Sunday a.m., May 19, preached at St. somebody else’s, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return. Sunday p.m., May 19, preached on the street, kicked off the street. Sunday a.m., May 26, preached in meadow, chased out of meadow as a bull was turned loose during the services. Sunday a.m., June 2, preached out at the edge of town, kicked off the highway. Sunday p.m., June 2, afternoon service, preached in a pasture, 10,000 people came to hear me.” Keep on. That is the lesson. Never give up.
In one of his radio shows Paul Harvey told the following story: A three year old boy went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered the store she said to him, "You are not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so do not even ask." She put him in child's seat in the grocery cart and wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw cookies and said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not to ask. You are not going to get any at all.” They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. “Mom,” the three-year old pleaded, “Can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can not have any. Now be quiet.” Finally, they were in the line to check out, and the little boy sensed that this might be his last chance. He stood up on the seat of the cart and shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” Everybody laughed; Some even applauded; and, due to the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy and his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies. We ought always to pray and not give up…
But why? Why should we always pray and not give up? I mean is God deaf? Is it hard to get God's attention? Do we have to keep bothering God until He throws up His hands in disgust and says "If I don’t grant their request I’ll never get any rest?" No, that is not the issue at all. In fact, Daniel 10 may shed some light on this problem.
Look at verse 12. The Angel Gabriel says, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.” In other words, every time you and I pray not only does God gladly hear our prayers, an angel is immediately sent from the throne of God to answer our prayers. But that still does not answer our question: why should we keep on praying and never give up? As we continue to read in Daniel 10, we have something of an explanation. The angel Gabriel said that as soon as Daniel started praying, Gabriel left heaven with the answer to his prayers, but 21 days have gone by, so what happened? Maybe Gabriel is a male angel, and he would not ask directions, and he got lost. Just joking, of course.
Usually when our prayers are not immediately answered, we have no idea what is going on. We just know that we prayed, and nothing happened, but in Daniel 10 we have one of those rare times when God lets us peek behind the curtain so to speak and see what is happening behind the scenes.
When Daniel prayed demonic forces rose up (the prince of Persia) and angelic warfare broke out. Think about what that means? That means, when you pray, you turn loose the powers of heaven. That means, when you pray, you have the power to battle the forces of darkness. That means, when you pray, angels are willing to fight to answer your prayers. Wow. That is something.
Now, here is an interesting question: Daniel prayed 21 days. The angel was sent the first day he prayed, but did not arrive, because he literally had to fight his way in, until the 21st day. Now here’s the question: What might have happened had Daniel given up in his prayers? What if he had quit on the 14th day, or the 15th, or the 16th? Would the angel have arrived with his answer? The Bible does not say, but the implication is – Maybe not. Jesus taught that we should “always pray and not give up”--Not because God is hard of hearing, Not because God needs to be pestered into answering our requests, Not because God does not want to answer us
No. Jesus taught us to always pray because when we pray, our prayers carry weight. Every time you and I pray we unleash more and more power from the throne of God
Are you praying about financial problems? Every prayer you pray brings more power to deal with those problems.· Do you pray about health problems? Maybe you are suffering or a friend or relative is suffering. Every prayer you pray unleashes more power to deal with those problems. Prayer is not a passive act. Prayer is an aggressive, active ministry. When you pray, you put your shoulder to the wheel and move the forces of heaven.
You push. Perhaps you have heard real prayer described as PUSH.
PUSH stands for
So when the job gets you down, PUSH!
When money is short and bills are due, Push!
When people just don’t understand, Push!
Don’t just pray every now and then. Pray your prayer again and again and again. Pray Until Something Happens. Empower the angels of God. Unleash the power of heaven.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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