Victory In Prayer
Daniel was a man of prayer. He learned early in life how to lay hold of God and be able to get answers from Him. He won many spiritual battles on his knees and is one of the very few biblical characters of whom nothing derogatory is ever stated. Even though he lived during a very crucial time in history and had leadership positions under several kings and kingdoms, his life before God and man was exemplary. He never compromised his relationship with God, and his prayerfulness is probably the most outstanding feature of his life.
The earliest account of Daniel’s prayer life is recorded in chapter two of the book which bears his name. He and his companions suddenly found themselves facing the death penalty in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. The king had a dream which troubled him and asked the court not only to interpret his dream, but to tell the dream to him as well. If they were unable to do so, they were to be slain.
Hearing the king’s demand for the first time, and receiving news of his impending death at the same hour, Daniel asked for a little time. Then he would be able to meet his request.
Immediately upon receiving a grant of time, Daniel went to his residence and discussed the matter with his three friends. They fell on their knees before God, interceding with Him to answer. Our God of grace kindly obliged Daniel, revealing to him both the dream and its interpretation.
As a direct result of the prayer, not only were the lives of Daniel and his three friends spared, but much more was accomplished. First, the Lord, who superintends history, revealed through the dream of Nebuchadnezzar the course of Gentile history from Daniel’s day until the second advent of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, any latent anti-Semitism was put down, as Nebuchadnezzar lifted up Daniel’s God, the God of the Hebrews. Daniel’s life was spared, as well as the lives of many of his people, as the result of his knowing how to get victory in prayer by laying hold of God. Years later James, the writer of Scripture, tells us, “. . . the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16).
Daniel’s Prayer Defeats Anti-Semitism
Again, in Daniel, chapter six, during the reign of another king and another kingdom, Daniel found victory in his prayer life.
This time, early in the reign of Darius the Mede, Daniel was faced with the decision to pray or not to pray. Daniel had been made the highest of the three presidents and was over the one hundred-twenty princes of the land of Persia.
Jealousy and anti-Semitism had crept Into Darius court. These other leaders were not about to have this Hebrew tell the Medes and the Persians what to do. They set about to concoct a vicious scheme to destroy Daniel and his righteous rule. Having found his life above reproach, they had to invent some malicious plan to depose and destroy this troublesome Jew. No outsider was going to tell them how to run their government. The only sordid action this wicked conclave could conjure up was to have the king decree, under the irrevocable law of the Medes and the Persians, that anyone who petitioned God or man other than Darius would be cast into a den of lions. This would end the outside rule of the Hebrew — they thought. Without realizing the implications of the decree, Darius signed it into law. It was irreversible!
Meanwhile, for Daniel, it was business as usual with God. Having been made aware of the decree, Daniel knelt and prayed at his open window, in sight of all, three times a day. He had broken the law. To the lions he must go!
Again, Daniel petitioned God, and God gave the victory. The lions became harmless puppies in the den as Daniel slept that night. Their mouths were shut. His life was spared. This anti-Semitic attack was put down, and the leaders who had sought the life of Daniel were thrown to the now-starving lions. Daniel again knew real victory through prayer.
Daniel Enters The Angelic Conflict In Prayer
In Daniel, chapter nine, the writer had been meditating upon the prophecies of Jeremiah, and specifically chapter twenty-five, verses eleven and twelve. He learned that after seventy years of captivity, the Jews would be released from their captivity and return to the land of Israel. According to Daniel’s reckoning of time, these seventy years should have been accomplished, and Israel should have been freed.
This had not happened! Since Daniel felt the burden of his own sins and the sins of his people so heavy upon his shoulders, he once again fell on his knees in a prayer of personal and national confession of sins. He pleaded with God to turn His wrath away from Jerusalem and his people for the Lord’s sake. Daniel was praying for the Lord to keep His promise given through Jeremiah. He knew that God must keep His promises or not be God. However, what Daniel did not know, though his heart was right, was that his timing of the beginning of the seventy years of captivity was off. He was calculating from the first Babylonian invasion of 606 B.C., and God’s calculation started with 586 B.C. In God’s timing, the seventy years were not yet completed. God would operate on His timetable, and the prophecy of Jeremiah was correct.
It was while Daniel was involved in this prayer of confession that God, in His infinite grace, dispatched the angel Gabriel to comfort and reassure him that He was still on His throne. God was still in control of the nations, including Israel.
In spite of the battle being staged behind the scenes by Satan and his angelic conferees, final victory was on the Lord’s side. Gabriel gave Daniel that great prophecy of the seventy weeks yet for Israel. The Lord not only showed Daniel He is in control of the world situation now, but that He superintends history, and does not adjust to it. Gabriel showed Daniel the total picture of the history of Israel in advance, until the time the Messiah would rule Israel forever. Daniel knew how to lay hold of God. God gave specific answers. He even dispatched angels to show Daniel and the nation that they had no need to fear. God was still on the throne. His prayer life had caused the Lord, by angelic intervention and message, to give probably the most important prophetic truth in the entire Word of God.
Victory in the Angelic Conflict By Prayer
In the tenth chapter of Daniel, we have one of the clearest pictures of prayer being answered in the Scriptures. More importantly, we are ushered into the details of the tremendous struggle going on behind the visible scene between the angelic hosts of God and the demonic hosts of Satan. Daniel, by praying, fasting and laying hold of God, became directly involved in the action with amazing results.
At the writing of this chapter, Daniel was a very old man. It had been at least seventy-two years since, as a youth, he had been carried away captive to Babylon from Jerusalem. He implied in the early verses that the children of Israel had gone through a long and troubled period of years.
Almost in desperation, on behalf of his people, Daniel once again poured out his heart to God.
After three weeks of earnest prayer and fasting, he received his answer. It came in the form of a vision of the preexistent Messiah of Israel, Daniel was so emotionally drained by this experience that he fell asleep with his face toward the ground.
While in this condition, God dispatched a teaching angel to comfort and assist Daniel. He came with the answers that would satisfy Daniel’s needs at that time. Daniel, by prayer, had so moved God that even angelic hosts were sent to his aid. His prayer life had brought him into the angelic conflict between the hosts of God and Satan. This angelic messenger made some of the clearest statements in the Scriptures concerning angelic responsibilities in that unseen struggle between God and Satan.
In Daniel 10:12-13 we read, “. . . Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days; but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.”
Dear pilgrim, do you catch the significance of this? The angelic messenger relates his testimony to Daniel. Three weeks earlier he had been dispatched to answer Daniel’s prayer. However, the satanic hosts of Persia had prevented his coming. The angelic messenger had to seek super-angel or archangel assistance to complete his task so he could come to Daniel. Can’t we begin to see something of the tremendous heavenly angelic struggle? Daniel, by prayer, was victoriously involved in this battle.
Later in the same chapter, the angelic messenger informs Daniel that when his mission to him was completed, he would return to that struggle. He, furthermore, let Daniel see that when the Persian Empire fell, he would be involved in that angelic conflict over the next great world empire, Greece, He would again need Michael to assist him there.
Following this, the angelic messenger continues to speak and says, “Also I, in the first year of Darius, the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and strengthen him” (Dan. 11:1).
The words are powerful and pregnant. The word “stood” has the connotation in the original of standing in military conflict. The angel declared to Daniel that he fought behind the scenes on behalf of Darius the Mede when he took over worldwide dominion, and particularly during the first year of his reign. This verse is telling us that the defeat of Babylon was more than a military triumph of the armies of the Medes and Persians. This conquest was by divine appointment.
But, go back with me to Daniel, chapter six again. There we have the account of when Darius the Mede was in his first year. Anti-Semitism raised its ugly head when Daniel, a Jew, was made the first of the presidents and over the one hundred-twenty princes. These Medes did not like a Jew telling them what to do. Remember their solution? Finding no fault in Daniel, they secured that decree for one praying to be cast into the den of lions. Daniel, that Jew, was the sole target of their attack.
You remember the story well. Daniel spent the night sleeping with the lions. But, in Daniel 6:22 we have an amazing verse, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths that they might not hurt me.” The same angel reminds Daniel in chapter 11, verse 1, that he was there to preserve Daniel and Israel during the night he spent with the lions. As the result of this angelic action, anti-Semitism was temporarily destroyed by the angelic muzzle that night in the den. A decree from Darius followed that the God of Daniel was the eternal living God. Anti-Semitism was dispelled by divine action in answer to the prayer of one of God’s children.
Our Lord invites us to enter into this same angelic conflict. In Ephesians 6; 11-12 Paul wrote, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
We are told to put on the armor of God, and we are invited to participate in this battle. Most of the weapons are defensive in Ephesians with the exception of two: the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, and prayer.
Our Lord is inviting each of us to enter into this behind-the-scenes conflict, which affects the destinies of nations and the souls of men. Prayer is the key by which we enter. What a privilege our wonderful Lord gives us, but so many of God’s children fail in this part of the battle. Let us be like Daniel — enter the battle and watch the Lord give the victory.