Prayer is like a two-winged bird. One wing which we see and are aware of, is our efforts, our time given to prayer. The other wing, hidden from our sight but very real, is what is happening spiritually.
Daniel was aware of the prophecy of Jeremiah in which God promised to restore the fortunes of Jerusalem. Daniel took this seriously and prayed for it to happen. (Daniel 9:2–3 & Jeremiah 29:10–14). It is interesting that Daniel took God at his word and turned God’s promise into a prayer. We too can take God’s promises back to him in prayer asking God to answer and fulfil what he has promised.
Daniel took prayer seriously, praying three times each day at a window that allowed him to face Jerusalem. His enemies used this against him by tricking the king into making a law that anyone who prayed, other than to the king, would be put in the lion’s den to die.
When he heard about this Daniel went straight to the window to pray. This reveals Daniel’s great trust in God and his courage to pray in the face of danger. He was caught praying and subsequently thrown into the lion’s den, but God kept him safe through that experience. In this we see Daniel flexing, stretching and using the wing of prayer that he could control. He reveals his approach to prayer when he prays, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” (Daniel 9:18) Daniel knew and trusted God in prayer.
Later we read of Daniel having a vision of an angel. Daniel had been praying and fasting for three weeks. The angel told Daniel that the moment he began praying God heard him, and the angel was sent in response to the prayer. This reveals to us that the moment we pray, God hears us. There is no time delay between us praying and God hearing. However, the angel was detained for twenty-one days because it was hindered by a spiritual power called the prince of Persia. This gives us an insight into the second wing of prayer which is hidden from our sight. Unseen by us, spiritual things happen when we pray. Daniel’s prayers to God about Jerusalem have some impact on the events in heaven in ways we don’t normally see or understand. It is a spiritual battle which is hidden from our human sight. The Apostle Paul drew attention to this when he wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
These verses must be seen in the context of what Paul says next which is PRAY! (Ephesians 6;18-20)
- pray in the Spirit on all occasions
- pray all kinds of prayers and requests
- pray for all the Lord’s people
- pray also for me
- pray that I may proclaim the gospel fearlessly.
What difference does this make to us at Greyfriars? In prayer we have our part to play and God has his part to play. Our wing and God’s wing of prayer. These two wings of prayer are needed in order to take flight. Our problem is that we see only one of these wings. Can we trust God? Can we take the risk of extending our wing of prayer trusting that God will do the same? If we want to see spiritual breakthroughs, we must take that risk, that step of faith and pray. I encourage you then to take every opportunity you can to strengthen the wing of prayer, to use it, stretch it and to allow your prayers to take flight.
What might encourage you to pray regularly as Daniel did?
How are you stretching, flexing, strengthening your wing of prayer?
Rev John Malcolm