The Power of Persistent Prayer
Last week we began a series called Prayer that Works. We looked Elijah’s prayer and how we can pray like a righteous man.
Today we are going to look at the prayer of Daniel.
How many of you pray a prayer and then you feel like giving up?
Supposedly this is a true story. There was a Welsh Woman who lived in a remote valley in Wales. She went to a great deal of trouble and expense to have electrical power installed in her home. However, after a couple of months, the electric company noticed she didn’t seem to use very much electricity at all. Thinking there might be a problem with the hookup, they sent a meter reader out to check on the matter. Then man came to the door and said, “We’ve just checked your meter and it doesn’t seem that you’re using much electricity. Is there a problem?” “Oh no” she said. “We’re quite satisfied. We turn on the electric lights every night to see how to light our lamps and then we switch them off again.”
My question this morning is why didn’t this woman make more use of her electricity? She believed in electricity. She believed the promises of the electric company when they told her about it. She went to a great deal of trouble and expense to have her house wired for it. But, she didn’t understand the potential of electricity in her home. And so, she used its power sparingly.
Let me say this to you. I suspect there are people who use prayer very much the same way. You believe in prayer. You know of the promises God has made. You’ve even read and heard stories about answered prayers. But you use the power of prayer sparingly.
And I believe that the reason that happens is that many don’t understand how prayer works. And some people believe that it doesn’t really matter whether they pray or not.
Daniel didn’t pray that way. Daniel was a prayer warrior. He prayed 3 times a day. He prayed in his room. He prayed while he was in the lion’s den. He prayed for wisdom. He prayed for guidance. And he prayed for God to forgive the sins of his people Israel and return them to their home. And now in our text we find Daniel struggling in prayer for 21 days, because he is troubled by a dream he’s had. There are many Christians today that would have trouble praying for 21 days for anything. Am I right?
Let’s look at God’s Word. First, I want you to go with me to the book of Luke. I want us to look at something that Jesus told his disciples about prayer. Go to chapter 18 and lets begin at verse 1
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
Jesus was assuring His disciples that God is a God who hears us and He loves us very much and we should not stop praying for something just because we don’t hear an answer. Everyone of us in this room should always pray and not give up.
Now, go with me to the book of Daniel. It is near the end of the Old Testament. If you are turning backwards and you come to Ezekiel you have gone too far. Daniel is the next book after Ezekiel. Daniel chapter 10.
Let me set this up for you. In chapter 9 we read that Daniel is interceding for the nation of Israel. For God to forgive their sins. He cries out to God day and night for 21 days. It is at verse 12 of chapter 10 that we get an inside look into why Daniel did not receive an answer for 21 days. Look at what it says.
12 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.
Do you see that? God has just given us a glimpse into the heavenlies. He has pulled back the curtain per-say and revealed to us what goes on in the heavenlies when we pray. Our prays go to the Father that loves us very much and there are times that a battle rages in the heavenlies before an answer comes back to us.
I have spoken about this many times. But let me remind you what Paul says in Ephesians chapter 6.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Do you understand what I am saying?
Sometimes when you pray a specific prayer a battle takes place in the heavenlies. We send a request to the Father and He is sending us an answer back but there are forces at play that do not want us to receive that answer.
Now you and I both know that God himself can overrule such spiritual obstacles and delays, but he chooses to work through our prayers. Since we know that Satan always seeks to hinder our prayers.
Verse 13 gives us a good example of why we must always persevere in prayer in spite of the circumstances or opposition.
When Daniel prayed demonic forces rose up and angelic warfare was broke out. You know what that means? That means that when you pray, you turn loose the very powers of heaven. That means that when you pray, you have the power to battle the very forces of darkness. That means that when you pray angels are willing to fight for you to be able to receive the answer to your prayers.
So, think of this for a minute. Daniel prayed for 21 days. Scripture says that the angel was sent the 1st day he prayed, but didn’t arrive until the 21st day. What might have happened had Daniel given up in his prayers? What if Daniel had quit on the 14th day or the 16th or even the 19th day? Would the angel have arrived with his answer?
Remember what Luke said in Luke 18:1
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
Jesus didn’t teach them that because God is hard of hearing or God needs to be pestered into answering our requests or because God doesn’t want to answer us.
Jesus taught us always to pray and to not give up because, when we pray, our prayers carry weight. Every time you and I pray, we unleash more and more power from the throne of God.
Think of it this way...
When you pray for someone in your family to become a Christian. Every prayer you pray puts more and more pressure on that person to listen to God.
When you pray for your friends in their daily struggles. Every prayer you pray imparts to them more and more power from God.
When you pray for difficulties at work. Every prayer that you lift up to God’s throne brings God’s power to bear on difficult people and situations.
Prayer is not a passive act on our part. Prayer is an aggressive, active ministry. You are putting your should to the wheel and moving the forces of heaven.
It is so important that you use the prayer journal that I gave you last week. If you didn’t get one you can pick that up from one of our ushers. Pray on these prayers not just one time, but keep praying for each of your needs that are listed. I want to close with a story this morning.
George Mueller was known for his powerful prayer. In the course of his ministry to the orphans of England, he never asked for financial assistance from men—only God and he constantly received what was needed to the penny. Once while on his way to speak in Quebec for an engagement, on the deck of the ship that was to carry him to his destination, he informed the captain that he needed to be in Quebec by Saturday afternoon. As the captain related the story, he said, “It is impossible. Do you know how dense this fog is?”
“No.” George replied. “My eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of life. I have never broken an engagement in 57 years; let us go down into the chart room and pray.”
He knelt down and he prayed one of the simplest prayers. When he had finished the Captain was going to pray, but he put his hand on the Captain’s shoulder and told him not to pray. “As you do not believe He will answer, and as I believe he has, there is no need for you whatever for you to pray about it.”
The Captain looked at him and George Mueller said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for 57 years and there has never been a single day when I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, and open the door and you will find that the fog has gone.”
The Captain got up and the fog indeed was gone, and on that Saturday afternoon George Mueller kept his promised engagement.
God wants to answer your prayers. I have been praying for this church for the past 13 years. I have been praying for God to send us people from the North, South, East and the West. Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, that God has been trying to get the answer through to His people that He wants to send to us. But the enemy is fighting tooth and nail to keep us from being all that God wants us to be. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop praying.
I believe that God is raising up a remnant in his church that is ready to go out and do battle to fight the enemy. We have to raise up a standard that is greater than what we ever could imagine because the enemy is fighting against us. We have to push back the darkness and know that God is bringing His light to His people. We will overcome. And we are overcoming. We are seeing the results of years of prayers that have been prayed for this church. There is power in persistent Prayer. Don’t stop praying!