Friday, September 29, 2017

Prayer insights from Daniel

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Daniel 10:4-11:2
TO CHEW ON: “‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words’” Daniel 10:12 NIV.

In today’s reading in Daniel 10, I see four things from Daniel's experience that teach us about God, us, and prayer.

1. God knew Daniel by name. He had a reputation in heaven.

When the vision described in Daniel 10 began, Daniel was petrified. The angel visitor began his reassurance with these beautiful words:
“‘Daniel, you who are highly esteemed….’”

Don’t you love how the angel called him by name (Daniel 10:11,12) and told him his heavenly reputation.  A note in the NIV Study Bible explains “highly esteemed”:
“A relatively rare Hebrew word … sometimes translated ‘coveted.’ Daniel is a highly desired, precious man whom God covets” (NIV Study Bible, Kindle Location 202,318).

The expression “highly esteemed” reminds me of a story told by one of the pastors at my church. In a series about hearing God, Pastor Mike told us of a day when he read a Bible story of God changing someone’s name. That morning in prayer he asked God, “Do you have another name for me?” He sensed God telling him to wait for an answer later in the day.

That night before bed he was wrestling with his young sons. At one point one of them straddled his head with his little legs, held Mike’s face in his hands, looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘Daddy, you’re expensive.’

Highly esteemed, highly desired, precious, coveted, expensive. What a reputation to have! Maybe the angels God sends aren’t always terrifying.

2. Daniel’s prayer set things in motion:
“Since the first day … your words were heard” Daniel 10:12.
On another occasion the angel Gabriel came to him with the message: “‘As soon as you began to pray a word went out’” - Daniel 9:23.

3. Daniel’s attitude in prayer moved God.
The angel said: “…the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard…” Daniel 10:12.

How had he set his heart to understand and humble himself? We can read his prayer of repentance and humility in Daniel 9:4-19.

4. The answer to Daniel’s prayer was delayed by spiritual warfare.
The angel’s words give us a glimpse of the spiritual warfare that was being fought in heaven ((Daniel 10:12,13,20) and which is also being waged around us (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

God knows our names too. We too have a reputation in heaven (Psalm 139:1-18). Let’s keep praying with realism—the awareness of who we are in relation to God—and with faith, confident that our prayers also move God’s hand and that we too can be part of God’s kingdom strategy.

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for this glimpse into the connections between our prayers and Your answers. Help me to pray with realism,  perseverance, and faith that my prayers do make a difference. Amen.
MORE: Feast of St. Michael and all Angels

Today the church celebrates the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.

The day’s liturgy begins with this collect prayer:

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures quoted in this meditation are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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