Thursday, December 17, 2009

Continuous Prayer

"At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over." Daniel 10:2-3

You know that feeling, where you've been praying about something for forever, it seems, and you just start to feel like it's not making a difference? I get there sometimes. We'll be praying about making a decision or making a change and seeking the opportunity to make that change, yet the answers just don't seem to be coming. And we can get discouraged, and our minds will come up with the idea that, hey, the answer must be no, so we stop praying about it. Or we'll resign ourselves to the idea that some prayers simply go unanswered.

Except the fact is that there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. God hears every single one of our prayers. When those thoughts or feelings come to me, I almost always turn to Daniel, chapter 10, to read about when an answered prayer took some time, because it is such an encouragement, such a reminder that God does hear our prayers and answer. At the beginning of the chapter, Daniel begins praying about a vision he has had, seeking God for the answer. When he has no immediate answer, he turns to fasting, and meditation for three weeks time. And look what happened. His fasting and continuous prayer made a difference!

"Then he continued, "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. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come." Daniel 10:12-14

Daniel's words were heard immediately by God, and this angel was sent to Daniel to deliver the answer to Daniel's visions. Along the way though, the devil intercepted the angel and blocked his path for a full 21 days. I believe that it was Daniel's continuous prayers and fasting that sent Michael to assist this angel. God continued to hear Daniel's cry and sent help to overcome the enemy who blocked the answer.

I think this is so important to read and try to understand, because we know the devil is the devourer and a thief. And more than anything, he would love to steal the answers to our prayers. The devil wants us to think that God doesn't care and that God doesn't answer all our prayers. While I can try to imagine what would have happened had Daniel stopped praying and fasting, I probably can't imagine the reality. The messenger sent to him needed help from another angel to get past the devil, had Daniel stopped praying, would the messenger simply have turned back? Or would the messenger have been held up to the point of Daniel's end? No one knows, but I do know this, that this is the perfect example of an answer to prayer sometimes taking some time. And that we shouldn't stop praying about something simply because we've uttered the prayer once. Continuous prayer may very well bring us the answers we seek sooner than if we'd simply prayed and walked away.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." 1 John 5:14

"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 1 Peter 3:12

God hears our prayers every single time. He also answers them. Sometimes those answers are held up by something that we simply can't see with our human eyes. That's when we continue to pray, that's when we turn to our Bible and be encouraged by the passages that tell us the truth- instead of listening to the lies of the devil.

God loves us, and He hears our prayers- and oh, how He loves to hear our prayers. I imagine there can't be such a thing as too much prayer, as God loves to hear the voices of His children. And that's what you are- His beloved child.

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