The theme of the efficacy of persistent intercessory prayer is brought home in the words of Daniel’s great prayer of confession in Daniel 9. There Daniel includes himself as he confesses the rebellion of Israel against the Lord and His covenant. What is fascinating about this account is the answer Daniel receives while he is praying. Gabriel the messenger from God appears to Daniel while he is still praying to inform him that he is highly esteemed and has been heard. This favoured status vouchsafes to Daniel insight into future events. What this incident testifies to is the interface and overlap between Daniel’s temporal world and that which lies beyond the five senses.
That truth is even more dramatically depicted in the very next chapter of Daniel. In Daniel 10, after twenty-one days of fasting, Daniel is ushered to a front-row seat to witness events which were unfolding in the cosmic arena while he had been fasting. A fierce conflict between angelic beings had transpired while he mourned for his people. Twenty-one days of fasting and prayer corresponded to the twenty-one days that impeded the arrival of the heavenly messenger. The struggle of prayer matched the struggle in the cosmic realm!
What do these strange account teach us? They inform us that our prayers may sometimes be answered while we are still uttering the words, for they are instantly understood by our all-seeing and all-knowing God. On the other hand, prayer may appear to be unanswered for a time because there is a heavenly conflict raging in the unseen realm, a battle of which we have no conscious knowledge. What is especially intriguing, however, is that prayer affects the outcome of that battle. There is an interface – a direct correlation – between the spiritual world and the temporal. Astonishingly, somehow we as feeble, fallible human beings have immediate impact on what transpires in the heavenly realm. These truths should bolster confidence and persistence in prayer.