I recently preached about God speaking through prophets over a lengthy period in a variety of ways. My text was:
Heb 1:1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.
Not only did God speak through prophets … He also used angels to communicate to them. Take Daniel as an example. God sent the angel Gabriel to speak to him on two occasions. The first time was in chapter 8:16 and the second here in chapter 9:21. (The other two times we hear of Gabriel is in Luke chapter 1 where he communicates to Zachariah [8:19] and to Mary [9:26]). In that sermon we saw that God is done speaking through prophets. His final communication was through His Son. In Daniel 9 we have a prophet being spoken to by an angel. The backdrop is Daniel searching the writings of Jeremiah and finding that the period of exile would be 70 years. Although Daniel was older than that, he knew when the exile started because he too was taken to Babylon. The 70 years are almost exhausted and Daniel turned to God in targeted, urgent, soul searching, God honoring prayer. (Verses 4-19).
1) The use of Biblical history and language. Daniel as we saw used God’s name and titles, the history of Israel as a nation birthed by God, their sin and rebellion, the devastation that was prophesied … the desolation of the temple and City of God, plus he on behalf of the nation confessed their sin, repented and sought God to return in glory to Jerusalem and by implication, to a rebuilt temple. There are so many attitudes and spiritual principles we can learn from his prayer. One commentator put it like this … “The intensity of conviction and importunity expressed in this prayer well serve as a model for the attitude in all true prayer”. May we copy this model, principle by principle to radically change our prayer life, capturing the ear of God for the desired result.
2) True prayer finds the answer immediately prayer starts. This might be surprising because we pray and often there are either no answers or we need to wait … or perhaps our prayers are wrongly intended. All illustrations have their weaknesses … and the one I am going to use falls into this category too. My wife, when teaching children about prayer would use an illustration she had learnt. Often prayers are not answered immediately and could be explained like this:
(1) A green traffic light means “yes”.
(2) A red traffic light means “no”.
(3) An amber or orange traffic light means wait (caution).
Often this is true when we pray, but I cannot get away from “True Prayers” such as Daniel prayed. Daniel knew He had reached the ear of God even though He asks God to hear. His praying was totally Biblical, asking according to God’s will and for His honor. His prayer was for the glory of God and the exaltation of His name. Now look how exciting this is …
(a) He continued praying the same way with the same content.
Da 9:20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill— 21 while I was still in prayer
(b) Gabriel visits him. Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. Not that Daniel was sacrificing, he was in prayer. According to the time of the day it would have been the time of the evening sacrifice if they were in Jerusalem … between 3 and 4pm. The term “swift flight”, translated from the original language is “fly in weariness” … meaning “exhausted by the flight”. It is a very difficult phrase to translate and it raises the question whether angels become exhausted or not. I can’t answer that question and decline to leave it to the imagination. This visitation is a direct result of True Prayer.
3) Gabriel’s mission was one of education.
Da 9:22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.
He came from the presence of God with Words from God for Daniel. (This might be the reason Gabriel was “exhausted by the flight”. Daniel prayed verse 4 to 19 … and whilst he was still in prayer Gabriel arrived!) Daniel was confused by the vision of chapter 8:
Da 8:27 I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding
Causing him to resort to earnest, urgent prayer:
Da 9:3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
The insight and understanding relates to the “vision” of chapter 8. If you read the related Daily Notes, you will recall they were rather intense and deep. He needed interpretation because the vision related to the present Israeli environment. Gabriel was sent to reveal God’s will in the vision.
4) Under point 2 above I said … True prayer finds the answer immediately prayer starts.
Da 9:23 As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision
As soon as Daniel started to pray the interpretation (Answer – Word) was given to the angel for Daniel.
(1) This ought to encourage us to pray “true, God honoring, Biblically driven prayers” for the glory of God and the benefit of His Kingdom.
(2) This ought to encourage us that God does hear and respond to true prayers.
(3) Our Lord Jesus says “ask” and you will “receive”.
Jn 16:23 I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
The key to asking is “in Jesus’ Name”.
1 Jn 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
When we ask in “Jesus’ Name” and “according to God’s will”, He hears and answers. This is True Prayer. Dare to be a Daniel and pray like this.
Father, help us to pray according to Your will and in Jesus’ Name to prevent abusive praying. Amen.