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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)
A friend of mine once commented to me that she never made intercession to God on behalf of others or asked Him to do anything for her personally because, after all, He had already done more than enough for her and knew her needs without her speaking them. Based on the plethora of Scripture inviting us to intercede for others as well as ourselves though, her thinking perplexed me (e.g. Matthew 7:7, 18:19, 21:22, Mark 11:24, John 14:13, 15:7). I was much younger at the time, so out of respect I didn’t challenge her theology, but perhaps I should have made a gentle try at it. Years later, I would discover that her misplaced conviction stemmed from a particularly desperate prayer that – to her thinking – went unanswered.
The thing is that, in a growing number of situations, the scriptural promises cited above are ingested and clung to outside of their context as stand-alone promise; they fall victim to prooftexting, in other words. The caveat to these promises and every other like them across both Old and New Testaments is that what they don’t say is as important as what they do say.
What they do say is ask and you will receive according to My will.
What they don’t say is ask and you will receive at such-and-such time, in such-and-such way, according to the specifications you set forth.
The reality is that there have been times in my own life when I seemed to be praying my very heart out over a situation or even a legitimate desire while God seemed to be standing by, unflustered, non-plussed, inactive. You too? The good news is that with spiritual maturity, perseverance in prayer and faith-building experiences of God’s work comes the knowledge that He does, in fact, listen and work on behalf of the praying believer.
It’s absolutely true. He is listening. And in His glorious omnipotence, He knows every single why, wherefore and circumstance surrounding your situation – the good and the bad, far beyond what we know – and He’s working through each and every element to orchestrate the very best outcome for you.
Today’s passage-of-focus lands us smack-dab in the middle of such a situation. Daniel, exiled to Babylon with his fellow Israelites fervently gives praise to and seeks God – yet again – on behalf of himself and his people. And an angel arrives. Not your typical prayer-time experience, is it? But it gives us a first-hand example of God’s commitment to and desire for communicating with us. The message delivered is so powerful that it bears repeating in today’s passage-of-focus/ The angel told 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). Two phrases from this short passage should speak volumes of comfort to anyone who has ever felt his or her prayers fell on deaf ears:
Since the first day … your words were heard. Think of the magnitude of that statement, especially in our present day when so many people clamor so desperately to be heard. God heard and had full intentions of responding to Daniel’s prayer the very first time that Daniel’s request left his lips and fell on God’s beautiful ears. Daniel had pleaded fervently in this prayer for a full three weeks (Daniel 10:2). Durations for prayer vary; yours may last three days, three months, three years, three decades. Persevere in that prayer knowing that Daniel’s God, El Shema – the Hebrew rendering for the God who hears – hears you every single time you pray.
I have come because of your words: Now think of the magnitude of that statement. God actually dispatched one of His angels from heaven to earth specifically because of Daniel’s prayer. We know that a prayer prayed in faith does mighty things. This passage is a staunch reminder that prayer matters. It isn’t merely a psychological exercise of habit to be tucked into a back pocket and pulled out in case of emergency.
Just because a believer is praying for something that hasn’t happened and isn’t happening – or even if it seems the opposite is happening or nothing is happening – to give up on that prayer is an unwise move unless God stirs the individual’s spirit to change course. The God Who Hears has heard every heartfelt plea. Delayed answers are not necessarily denied answers. They are answers waiting to be delivered in His perfect timing by His perfect method.
Conclude Day 22 by reading Daniel 9:1-19 and reflecting on the following questions, then document your PRAYER conversation for today in light of your answers.
Think of a time in the past when you felt God wasn’t answering a prayer for you. How did you respond? What was the final outcome?
Do you have a prayer today that seems to be going unanswered? If so, what characteristics of Daniel do you see through his prayer life that you might implement into your own life and prayer life?
Praise and Thanksgiving:
            In your own words, who is God to you personally? What has He done for you specifically
            in the past day or so – especially the little things – that surprised you or drew you
This one seems obvious, but consider making a deliberate commitment to go
            beyond “I’m sorry” and make a sincere commitment to do your best through Christ
            to lay these sins aside.
            Love Him. Worship Him. And don’t be afraid to do so with hymns or other songs of
            worship…sometimes mere words may not seem adequate to you. That’s ok!
Is there something you need to turn over to God? A circumstance you can’t control?
            Complicated relationship? Your own will that’s struggling with His will?
What are your concerns, your hopes, your dreams for your church? Your family?
Friends? Not-so-much friends? Yourself?
            End your conversation with the firm knowledge that you are God’s and God is yours.
            Affirm your trust in His all-powerful, never-ending presence in your life. Thank Him
            again for what He’s done for you in the past and what He will do for you in the future
            that’s in accordance with His will. This is an important and proactive demonstration of
            your faith in Him.

Copyright 2017 Carole Anne Hallyburton. All rights reserved.