Pray in the Gap
I’m going to invite you as soon as the lights come on when you can see your Bible, turn to Daniel 6 that’s where we’re gonna be. Daniel 6 as we go through the series together on the Book of Daniel and Cultural Collision.
And if you’re visiting with us over the Thanksgiving holidays we’re happy you’re a part of this. If this is the first time you’re at Alpine Bible Church, we’re thankful that you are here today to dive into God’s Word with us to encourage our lives in pursuit of Him.
One of the topics that we’re discussing through the Book of Daniel is what it looks like for us to live our faith in Christ when culture collides. And the reason we picked Daniel as a story to focus on in order to talk about a cultural collision when our faith collides with culture is because of Daniel’s circumstances in his life.
He was taken into captivity as a young man when the Southern tribes of Israel were conquered by the Babylonians, and he was swept out of his hometown probably saw his parents killed in front of his eyes, brought into a new land, given a new name and trained in a new way of life. And he continued to face cultural collisions where his faith met against the people of the place that he was just drug off to. So he was really a slave taken into captivity, brought into the king’s court and God put him in a place in life to continue to use him and to teach him what God desired to accomplish in this world.
And Daniel becomes an example for us. Daniel’s story really continues to be our story. If you’ve been here for the series one of the things that I’ve tried to emphasize is how the teaching of Babylon as a concept, the kingdom of Babylon continued to be used throughout Scripture even as the New Testament unfolded. The Babylonian Kingdom was eventually wiped away. In fact Daniel outlived the Babylon Kingdom.
He lived in Babylon for seven years. Babylon gets conquered by the Persians. And Daniel now finds himself in this story in the leadership in Persia. But Babylon even though it became conquered continued to be a symbol because Babylon was such a world empire. And the symbol even into the New Testament was that God’s people continues to collide with Babylon or with the culture of this world. And encourages us in the New Testament to continue to follow after God.
So Daniel’s story becomes our story. And I think it’s important for us to continue to tie this story into our lives to see how it makes applications as we look into the context of this story that sets in history. But how it relates to us. And the reason is, is because God wants to continue to use you to make an impact in this world.
You look at the story of Daniel. We’ve seen this Book has 12 chapters. The first six chapters are narrative and those last six chapters are prophetic.
And I just want to say some of you who are familiar with the Book of Daniel have not been nice to me in this series. Because you know what’s happening in Chapter Seven and on is prophetic and so this is how you interact with me in the hallway. “Hey, good sermon today Pastor. Hey I can’t wait until you get to Chapter Seven. Ha, ha, ha, ha,” and then you just sheepishly walk out with this grin on your face because you know how Chapter Seven through Chapter 12 has impacted the church throughout history, and people get very dogmatic over this stuff, erroneously dogmatic over this stuff. In fact people use these secondaries of theology to take off boxing gloves and just punch one another in the face literally, there’s no doubt in my mind. Somewhere in some church recently, someone over this topic has probably punched someone else. So this for some reason becomes a heated section of Scripture. So if you’re ready for a church fight, next week join us, right? Chapter Seven. I’m kidding we’re not going to fight.
But it is a pretty interesting section of Scripture. Some of you guys are like talking like about Armageddon and End Times, I’m gonna tell you next week, I’m gonna share with you the specific date of Jesus’s return. Put that on YouTube, right? Phone calls this week coming, I’m kidding, I’m not, well maybe I will do that. Let’s keep you in suspense.
So Chapter Seven to 12 is prophetic. The first six chapters are narrative. And the way that Daniel’s broken down, it’s very clean cut in the chapter divisions. Because each chapter is a narrative story with a theme behind the narrative they want us to grab ahold of in seeing how Daniel influences his culture to encourage us and the influence of our culture.
And one of the things I’ve taught us in this series together, is when you think about chapter divisions, just because the Bible has a chapter division doesn’t necessarily mean within the context of the Scripture that’s a natural break in the text. Chapter division’s, verse divisions, came much later in history, and in the 1200’s they put the chapter divisions. In the 1500’s they put the verse divisions. There’s good and bad with that.
The good is, when we gather together like this as God’s people I can say, “Hey, turn to Daniel Chapter Six,” and we all maybe look in the index or whatever, figure out where this Book of Daniel is, get there, and we have an address, verse, chapter defined.
The bad part of these chapter verse divisions is it breaks Scripture down in an unnatural way, and it can create heresy. Like I can just quote to you a verse in the Bible and tell you how it might apply to your life, and it has nothing to do with the context of Scripture. So when you rip the Bible out of its context, it can become unnatural in what it wants to articulate for us to understand in Scripture.
And so when you study God’s word, I think it’s important to understand when the Bible was first written, it was written as a letter. It’s God’s love letter to you. And, so when you see a Book in the Bible from beginning to end, there’s some themes there the author is intentionally trying to write, not for you to pick a verse and pull it out, but to see the holistic concept that’s being taught.
And so when you look in Daniel it just so happens with the six chapters of Daniel, Daniel’s broken down very cleanly, in each story there’s a narrative being told. And the greater narrative of all six chapters, if I take all of these narratives combined, the greater narrative in all of this is how God desires to work through His people especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.
You think of Daniel’s carried away in captivity the kind of questions as a young man he would be asking, seeing his parents killed, watching the devastation to Jerusalem. Jerusalem destroyed. Being swept out by these Babylonians into this place he’s unfamiliar with, this pagan land.
And he’d be asking these questions like, “God do you love me? God have you abandoned me? God are you still with me?”
And the stories that unfold in Daniel Chapter Six are to continue to remind Daniel throughout his life that God is still on the move in the lives of His people.
And when you see Daniel Chapter One you see this young teenager, some people suggest he could be as young as middle school age, being carried away into captivity. And now in Chapter Six, Daniel’s in his 80’s. So just six chapters, we have over 70 years of Daniel’s life unfolding here. But the theme behind these six chapters are to remind Daniel and to remind us who’s still in Babylon, God is with you. And the only reason we’re able to do anything for God in this world is because He’s with us.
In fact in the New Testament that was the promise Jesus made to his disciples, the last words He spoke in Matthew, “I am with you always.”
And so when we look the Daniel’s story, it’s important to tie into our story because God is still on the move, and He desires to work through His people.And He understands the cultures that we face aren’t always going to be easy. But God has created you as His plan for this world. You think about that impact. God says in Matthew Chapter 28 19:20 “Go into all the world, all the world.” The scope of this mission is the world. You think about you or me this morning and that, the magnitude of that field it seems impossible.
How am I going to impact this world? You look at a story like Daniel and you think, “Man, Daniel he was a spiritual giant, there’s no way I can do what Daniel did,” but you think about just these six chapters, what did Daniel do exactly?
Daniel didn’t change Babylon. God worked through Daniel to have an effect on Babylon and you see the kings coming to that, and they’re influenced. But do you know what Daniel did? All Daniel did was represent God where he was. It just so happened in his sphere of influence in life that the king was a part of that. Daniel didn’t go out into Babylon and say, “I’m changing the world.” Daniel just interacted with the king and as he interacted with the king he stood for his God. It just so happened that the people around Daniel happened to be in leadership.
So we talk about impacting the world, the magnitude of the world can seem overwhelming to us. But what about your world? What I mean is God has you in a particular place in life where only you have that kind of influence over people. I can’t impact the people in your life, but you can. And God has you there for a reason, and that’s exactly how Daniel’s life worked out. God put him in a particular place, and he just stood for the Lord and in that the Babylonian empire was influenced.
And so when you think of the magnitude of the scope of the world, that you’re not going to be able to change the world, but you can change your world. And there’s been studies that have been done on the life of people that say on average people have close personal relationships with about eight to 15 people in life. Now there’s an ebb and flow to those relationships. People come and go. People move. There’s different dynamics to how those relationships happen. But at any given point in your life, you have eight to 15 close or personal relationships for you to have an impact.And this is why it becomes important because statistics tell us 95% of people who come to Christ do so through a personal relationship of someone who knows Jesus.
I can’t impact your world, but you can. Yeah. And that’s why it’s important to see how Daniel ties to your story, because just as Daniel was facing a cultural collision in Babylon so do you. And you can make a difference, and you can have an impact. The scope of the world can become paralyzing when you think about how big that is. But where you are you can exercise influence for the Glory of God and through that see change. God put you in a particular place for a reason.
And the story of Daniel in chapter six is where we’re going to pick up today to see how he continues to influence the culture around him.In Chapter Six Verse One it says like this, “It seemed good to Darius who’s the king of Persia, to appoint 120 satraps.” If you say to me, explain to me what a satrap is, I will say to you, “I have no idea. I have no idea what a satrap is.” I can tell you in the last chapter it listed officials, and it listed governors and magistrates and satraps, and so whatever this satrap is, it’s something related to a position of authority, okay?
And so Darius appoints 120 satraps over the kingdom that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom. And over them, three commissioners of whom Daniel was one, that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. Then this Daniel began to distinguishes himself among the commissioner and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit. I wonder where that came from, huh?
And the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom. Daniel weighs that just following the Lord, I think it’s just worth reiterating this man is in his 80’s, and he’s still having an impact for God and this world just being faithful to where he is, outliving the Babylonian Empire and now having an impact in the Persian Empire.
And then it goes on from there in the story and says in Verse Four then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusations against Daniel in regard to government affairs. But they could find no ground of accusations or evidence of corruption in as much as he was faithful and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.
So they’re saying that, “We investigated this guy. Man, he’s paid all his bills on time. We looked at his Twitter accounts, Facebook account, his Instagram nothing bad’s ever spoken. The man’s not even had a speeding ticket in his life. We’re trying to be angry at him and he is not making it easy.”
And so it says in Verse five then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against Daniel, but this. Unless we find it against him with regard to law of his God.”
So all the things they investigate in Daniel, the worst thing they can think of to say about him is he loves God. That’s a pretty good line isn’t it? “Man, dag gone it, Daniel loves God.” It’s like we got to get him to hate him, hate Daniel because of his love for God.
I could say, if the worst thing that could be said about you is how much you love the Lord, how much better this world would be. And I think the encouragement in the Scripture for us as people is, make it hard for people to hate you. And the Bible tells you to be wise as serpents, harmless as doves. I think the only time in Scripture that I would encourage you to be a snake in that verse, wise as serpents, harmless as doves.Because the Bible tells us that the Gospel is offensive. And as Christians when we walk in the world sharing that Gospel the only offense that we should present is the Gospel.
Make it hard for people to hate us, so they can see the goodness of who our God is. And Daniel is demonstrating this. And in Verse Six and Seven, these individuals so angry with Daniel because of his love for God and jealous of him really because of his position with of power before the king.
They decide to come before the King and figure out how to kick Daniel out of his position. It’s like, I don’t know how bad you’ve got to have a hatred for someone where in their 80’s you feel like, you feel like see their demise. But in Chapter Six Verse Six it then says, “Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows, “King Darius live forever.” So it’s about to tell you these individuals are gonna blow smoke.
And in Verse Seven before the king, Verse Seven all the commissioners of the king, the prefects, and the satraps, and the high officials, and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statue and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any God or man besides you oh king for 30 days shall be cast into the lion’s den.
These individual are about to learn the hard lesson that flattery will get you nowhere. Temporarily it may appease, but in the end it could cost you your life. That’s literally what’s going to happen here. These individuals are going to go talk to the king and they’re going to tell the king how great they are, they have an ulterior motive, but they tell the king, “King, you’re so great, everyone should pray to you.”
King’s like, “Yeah, you’re right, I am great. Let’s make that law.”
So he makes the law and these individuals their desire really is to get Daniel out of position, and the king finds out. “You just gave me flattery just to get this vendetta so you can have position.”
And the story goes on and we’re not going to read this in the verse, but or in this chapter. But the story goes on and it says in the context of this chapter that the king goes and grabs these individuals that encouraged him to make this law, and he throws them into the pit along with their family. And before they hit the pit where the lions are, the lions have already ripped them to pieces. So encouragement, flattery gets you nowhere, okay? And in Verse Eight it tells us what the king did.
Now oh king establish the injunction and sign the documents so that it may not be changed according to the law of the needs of the Persians which may not be revoked. Therefore King Darius signed the document that is in the injunction. Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house. Let me stop there.
So they’re saying king sign this injunction, and they know this type of injunction they want this king to sign. I mean, in our culture today it’s like swearing on your mama’s grave, triple dog dare, what pinky swear, blood covenant, right? That’s the kind of thing they’re thinking king do this only maybe even more powerful than that. King cannot undo this law once it’s done.
So they’re trying to influence the king to make this law and when Daniel finds out, Daniel does what he’s always done. He entered his house. Now in his roof chamber, he had windows open towards Jerusalem, and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. Daniel prays in front of everyone because it’s what Daniel has always done. Daniel wants to influence his world.
You know when you look at this story, I can’t help but think in our culture today I like to give God a back seat and make walking with God sort of a personal thing. I think in Christianity and the invitation to Jesus is always personal. It happens personally. But our faith is never intended to be just personal. God impacts your life, yes. But if it’s the purpose for your existence is to know him and to enjoy him for all of eternity, why would you sit on that? And Daniel in his conviction doesn’t privatize his faith, instead he shows true greatness in his conviction and of his God. And instead of hiding, he knelt beside the window inside of Babylon praying towards Jerusalem.
And these satraps knew he was going to do it. I mean, he’d been doing it since chapter one. Daniel loved his God more than anything. And in all six chapters that story is unfolded over and over and the hardships they faced, and yet in the midst of death before their very eyes, knowing, Daniel knowing that this could lead to him being thrown in the lion’s den. In fact the law says so. He still chooses to stand for his God and declare his faith in prayer and then it says in Chapter Six Verse 15, skipping a little bit ahead.
Then these men, these satraps came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Recognize ole King that it is a law of the needs of the Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed.” You pinky swore.
Then the king gave order and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lion’s den. And the king spoke and said to Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will himself deliver you.”
So Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den and it tells us the next day in Verse 19, the king arose at dawn and at the break of day and went in haste to the lion’s den. And when he come near the den to Daniel he cried out with a troubled voice, the king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel servant of the living God, has your God whom you constantly serve been able to deliver you from the lions?’
Then Daniel spoke to the king, “Oh, king live forever.”
Just look at what the king said about Daniel’s testimony. Look Daniel’s not trying to influence the whole world, he’s being faithful where he is. And the king’s remark of Daniel’s character, he understands Daniel to be one that constantly serves his God.
Daniel declares the goodness of the king in this verse, and then in Verse 26 you see the result of Daniel standing consistently with God. It says this, “The king writes this, then I will make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel for He is the living God and enduring forever. And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. And his dominion will be forever.” When you think of all that Daniel did to influence his culture. I don’t think it was that profound, it was just consistent.
What did he do? He prayed. Daniel prayed. And in the face of adversity he prayed. But Daniel prayed. Why would Daniel pray? While Daniel is certainly teaching us the power of prayer and the cultural collision, but Daniel prayed. And that’s in the context of this chapter that’s really what I want to encourage you in today, but let me remind you before I dive into this just the broad theme again, okay? Because the questions for chapter one to six is God do you still love your people? God do you care? God are you there for us?
And so you see through six different illustrations in narratives God continuing to show up for His people in all six chapters God being there, God’s presence working through them in the midst of adversity. That becomes important because in chapter seven to chapter 12, it’s in the prophetic statements of how God’s going to continue to do that.
So the theme of Daniel, the greatest theme God is the main character in all of this, okay? It’s about God working his Glory through His people God is there on the move.
But the emphasis of this chapter then becomes the idea of prayer. Why, why would Daniel pray? Seeing the power of prayer in this cultural collision, but when I think about Daniel praying in this story I get, I could probably in my world and mind come up with every excuse to say to him, “Probably not a good idea today. Like, Daniel I know that you’ve done this for 70 years now, and everyone has seen you from that same bedroom window, but man you’re in our 80’s and if there’s ever a time to take just maybe, just maybe a one prayer off, you’ve earned this one man.”
But Daniel prays. And I can’t help but think he prays with this willingness to be thrown into the lion’s den before he was ever willing to stop praying before his God. Prayer was that important to Daniel. It makes me consider how could we pray with such an impact? What could Daniel teach us about the idea of prayer and it’s significance in our position in culture?
We talk about a cultural collision, now what does that look like? Now I’m not going to promise you this morning that if you pray then we can all down to the Hogle Zoo and jump in the lion’s cage, right? That’s not what I’m promising you today. Just because you pray doesn’t mean God’s always going to show up and shut the mouth of the lion. In fact, if you study Christian history, you’ll find that there have been plenty of Christians who prayed and were thrown into the lion’s den and for whatever reason the mouth of the lion was open. I don’t think prayer necessarily dictates to us that God will shut the mouth of the lion. But I think prayer provides for us the strength to endure whatever we have to face.
When it comes to the idea of prayer, and the power of prayer, and how that influences culture, I don’t think there’s likely a better teacher for us in Scripture. Maybe there are a few teachers of prayer, but for me, Daniel was just one of those guys. If I’m going to learn to pray in a way that influences culture around me, if there’s a teacher I can have, man put Daniel on that list because of the things that you see happening in his life even to the point of the closing to of the mouth of lions. What can Daniel teach us about prayer? And that’s what I want to look at, I’m going to look at just a couple of sections of Scripture beyond this in the Book of Daniel.
We’re going to look in Chapter 9 Verse 17 and we’re going to turn to Chapter 10 Verse 12 so if you want to flip ahead to there. But Chapter 9 verse 17 you see in chapter six the narrative, okay? This is the narrative of Daniel saying he prayed, but I want to ask maybe a more specific question, okay? Daniel, what did you pray? I mean if you’ve got some like magic hocus-pocus words here that it might just do something miraculous like that, could you teach that to me? Right? So Daniel, how does pray look in your life and what does it mean to pray like Daniel prayed to see that kind of influencing culture?
So in Daniel Chapter 9 Verse 17, you see this prayer of Daniel being shared. And so it says this, “So now our God listen to the prayer of your servant to his supplications and for your sake oh Lord let your face shine on your desolate sanctuary. Oh my God incline your ear and hear, open your eyes and see our desolation in the city which is called by your name. For we are not presenting our supplications before you on a count of any merits of our own, but on account of your great compassion. Oh Lord hear, oh Lord forgive. Oh Lord listen, and take action for your own sake. Oh my God do not delay because your city and your people are called by your name.”
What’s the content of this prayer? I think one of the emphasis you see is you just look at these few verses. Daniel prays with humility. I mean it even says in the context of these verses, that it’s not his worthiness. It’s not his worthiness that inclines God. He’s not impressed God with how great he is, I told you he came into this land being conquered, seeing his parents killed, his people disseminated. He was a slave.
It’s not his worthiness, but it’s God’s mercy. Daniel didn’t feel like he was owed, not by God. But he still cried out to this God and one of the things he tells us in the context of the Scripture when he’s praying you see it in Verse 17, and you see it again at the end of Verse 19. He says at the end of Verse 17, he starts talking about the desolation of the sanctuary.
And then at the end of Verse 19, he talks about people that are called by his name. And one of the things that Daniel’s doing in the story is what I call praying in the gap. And what that means is God is working in Daniels life and Daniel’s seeing the way things are, and the way God desires them to be. And Daniel finds himself in the middle of that gap praying for Heaven and Earth to meet in this circumstance. Daniel is sort that go between where Heaven collides with Earth and he’s praying for the people knowing how things should be and aren’t and knowing how God says that they are to be.
And the reason Daniel knows that, is because Daniel knows Scripture. Daniel’s sitting in that gap and he’s praying because Daniel knows Scripture. In Verse 17, he’s talking about the sanctuary, in Verse 19 he’s talking about God’s people. Daniel knows in Deuteronomy Chapter 30 it says that in the first four verses, “If God’s people are taken into captivity, if they turn their hearts back to them, he will bring them out of captivity.’
Daniel knows in Jeremiah Chapter 25 Verses 11 and 12, that God said to His people they were going to go to Babylonian captivity for 70 years and now the Babylonians have been conquered, and God can call his people home. Daniel knows Scripture. And so when Daniel’s praying, he’s standing in the gap and he’s praying the heart of God where Heaven and Earth collide that God can work his will out in the lives of His people.
So what does it mean, pray in that gap? Can encourage you to know Scripture? To pray through Scripture? First John 5:14 he tells us to pray according to the Will of God, and it says this promise, He hears you.
So when we talk about praying humbling, when we talk about praying in the gap, when we talk about praying, I’m not saying pray for the mansion on the hill with the Mercedes that you want. You can pray that for me, no I’m just kidding. I’m not saying that. I’m saying when we pray God calls us to be a light to the world for Him, that we pray according to His Will. And heres how you know the heart of God, the Word of God. If you want to know where God’s heart is for this world, read His Word, and you pray that way.
Some of you guys will remember these days, but not too long ago there was this time in life where if you wanted to talk on the phone you had to answer it from in your home attached to a phone, that if you were lucky may have had more than a 20 foot long cord, right? So you get a little bit of privacy wherever you go. And maybe when you went into wherever you would go for that privacy you would just sit there with that cord and you could just twirl it with your finger and talk all day long , right? I mean, this was before the time when they had caller ID where you couldn’t just look and see who was calling and decide whether or not you wanted to answer, but you had to guess and just hope that it was the person you wanted to talk, rather than someone randomly trying to sell you something.
And so when you would answer that phone then you would have that maybe stopping moment to try to figure out who it is. And if you got connected with someone conversationally when they would just utter the first word you already knew who was on the other end, right? Why? Because you were used to the sound of their voice. And when it comes to prayer I think in our lives that’s how God communicates to us. Its not audibly, but when we pray we start reading His, we should read His Word and start developing his heart. And we know what His voice sounds like, and we know what it means to stand in the gap and we know what God’s desires a place where Heaven and Earth collide, and how sacred that is.
If you think about this picture in the Old Testament for just a minute. In Israel’s day there were these individuals called priests and it was a small percentage of people that held that position. And a priest, their job was to represent the people to God. Sacred moment. Very few people held, only the men. And there was a place in the temple, there were two rooms, the Holy of Holies and the Holy place. And the Holy Place right in front of it, when you got to the back of that room, there was the Holy of Holies separated by a curtain, right? And in front of that curtain there was this altar of incense. And that incense was to symbolize the prayer of God’s people. And if you were a priest which was rare to hold that position, one time in your life you would get to go into that Holy Place to that altar and pray. Sacred moment.
In fact, in the New Testament there’s a story of Zechariah who does this for Elizabeth and John the Baptist. Right before John the Baptist is born, his dad goes into that Holy Place, it’s his time to go to that sacred position and pray. And could you imagine? Everyone in your family would know and when you go into pray, I’m sure they’re thinking this is as sacred as it gets, the Holy of Holies is God’s dwelling place. That’s where His presence is, and somebody we know is about to walk in there
Hand them our prayer requests, please right? And so when he’s in there I’m sure he’s in there not like five minutes saying, “God, thank you for the day. It feels great, Amen.” And he steps out you know?
I mean, this is his time in life to pray and when the Gospel tells us the story he goes in and God reveals he’s gonna have John the Baptist and he comes out and he can’t even talk.
But that priestly position how, how sacred. It’s important to recognize how sacred it is because when you get to the New Testament, they continue to use that word, priests, or priesthood. But here’s the crazy thing in the New Testament it’s only used a few times, but every time it’s used, it’s used for the entire body of Christ. It’s not just one person holding that position anymore.
It’s God’s people and the reason it becomes that is because when the temple, when Jesus was crucified it tells us the veil was torn, his spirit doesn’t dwell there anymore but now his spirit dwells in His people. And so what the New Testament is trying to get you to understand is the sacredness. The sacredness of that position and representing the gap and filling in that gap where Heaven and Earth collide. One of the holiest most sacred things you can do, I think in this world.
95% of people who come to know Christ come through a friend. How sacred it is for you to have the opportunity to utter that name before God. Lift up your spouse or your friends with this attitude of Daniel. What a gift it is to stand in the gap and pray according to His Will because you’ve known the voice of your God as you’ve walked with Him and you’ve seen his heart for this world and His love for people. Praying in that gap and I got to move on I’m taking too long. When you pray in that gap, let me just tell you this too, when you’re praying in the gap, take time to rejoice in the connections. I mean when God answers those prayers, man praise Him. Praise him for the opportunity of just being able to represent sort of what Daniel’s life has been. Seeing how his hand works.
Let me get to this next prayer, this next prayer Daniel prays. Daniel Chapter 10 Verse 12. This one blows my mind. I thought about this, this week and I just came to the conclusion of, at this point of my spiritual life I does not have the mental capacity to completely fathom what’s being talked about here.All right. It’s one of those passages where I’ve looked at and I’m like I really just want to put the nuts and bolts and explain this but I can’t. I just want to read it and just say, “Here it is and you deal with it just like I have to, okay?”
This to me is amazing, but in Daniel Chapter 10 Verse 12, Daniel’s praying to God and then all of a sudden an Angel comes and that’s where we pick up. And the Angel talked to him and said, “Then he said to me, do not be afraid Daniel. For from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard. And I have come in response to your words. But the prince in the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for 21 days then behold Michael one of the chief princes came to help me for I had been left there what the king of Persia. Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days for the visions pertaining to the days yet future.”
So let me break this down for you. Daniels praying to God. God sends an angel. That angel gets stopped by what it’s talking about this prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now people develop all kinds of theologies off this. If you just want, if you want a flavor of one. Some people believe that demons have certain reigns over certain regions of the world. And this could be one of those demons that have a reign over this area of the world. Something creepy to think about for our stay here, but in 13 he’s talking about this prince of the kingdom of Persia.
And Daniel keeps praying. Now Daniel has no idea what’s happening, but Daniel keeps praying. It tells us, he prays for 21 days. And so what God does is he sends a tag team partner in for this wrestling match. And now he’s got to handle Michael. It’s like, first he had macho man Randy Savage, but now the Incredible hulk has come in, and now you know it’s over. The undertaker is going down, right? So the prince of Persia is born out by this tag team duo and Daniel prays for 21 days and the Angel finally comes to deliver this message.
Now just ask the question, what would have happened if Daniel had stopped after day 20? I don’t have a clue. I don’t know. It’s speculated. But 21 days he prays and what I want to just think about in this passage. I don’t have the answers to everything that’s taking place in this story.
But all I just want us to recognize is that there is more behind prayer than our minds can fathom. In fact in Ephesians Chapter Six it tells us, it talks about the whole armor of God in Ephesians Chapter Six and then it says to us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and power, against spiritual forces of darkness.”
When we pray I think there is a greater work taking place than what the physical eye can just see. And then the story we see Daniel praying persistently. And Michael the ArchAngel goes Jason Bourne on whoever this prince of Persia is, and for 21 days Daniels faithful over seeking the answer and at the 21st day he gets the answer. So I don’t even know if Daniel just kept praying, I mean he may have been faithfully praying for years after this, I don’t know. But there’s something significant beyond just the physical that’s taking place with the power of prayer. How sacred it is. To do spiritual battle to stand in that gap not by our strength but by the Lord’s.
So you get to the end of this section maybe we should just ask the question, why should you pray? You’re no Daniel. But truthfully I’m no Daniel either. And, I think if Daniel were here today he would tell us he’s no Daniel. Because when you think about the life of Daniel in 12 chapters, when we try to concisely share his story, we think about when he was thrown into a lion’s den. He’s a man’s man. I think Daniel would have said the opposite. “I was a slave. I was conquered. I saw friends and family killed. I was drugged against my will. I was just faithful.”
And think about pray and the effects that you have and you think about the magnitude of the world, sure you can’t change the world, nobody can. But you can have an effect on yours. That’s all Daniel did. That’s all he did, and prayer became an important part of that. He saw the gift of prayer.
I think of all the religions in the world and what they teach about God. And the religious stand by and large of God is to try to live your life in a way that just makes him happy. So hopefully he’s not mad at you, right? So maybe you could throw up a prayer every once in a while and he’ll listen to you.
Some pictures of God are so justice driven without grace that we just see God as this sort of being up in Heaven with these lightening bolts ready to zap you when you get out of line. What kind of relationship is that?
Daniel saw the gift of what prayer was. Not only is God a just God, but he’s a gracious God that’s been pursuing us, and He’s created the avenue for us to connect to Him. So when you think about prayer, the gift of prayer, it’s got to come coinciding when you think about the cost of prayer.
God gave everything. God gave everything for you to have that connection. God desires to work through you as His people to accomplish His Will in this world. And Jesus has got a lot riding on His church, His life. And so when you think about why pray? The question needs to wrestle with the concept of exactly what this gift is and the cost of what Christ paid for us to be even able to have the opportunity to pray.
I think one of the reasons why we ask, why pray? Or why we might even consider why prayer would even be important in our lives. It’s because prayer doesn’t matter for a Christian life that just sits on the couch and numbs your brain. You know? If all you do is come to Jesus and you just think life’s about coasting that you just cover your bases with God like it’s something you got to knock off the check list. Of course you’re going to ask the question, why pray?
Your Christian life has no risk. It’s done nothing different to you, but when you sacrifice everything to know Jesus and to align your life with him and to see His will accomplished in this world. When you understand the magnitude of the world and the scope of what He has called us into influence and how we have no power within ourselves to make a difference in the lives of eight to 15 people around us? Then the question isn’t anymore, why pray? But how can we pray more? Or why shouldn’t we pray? We’re dependent on that. And it becomes the source for us to even see the sustaining work of God happen in our lives and the lives around us in the most sacred significant thing that we can do is to go to spiritual battle for someone else. To stand in that gap to recognize the way that things are and the way that things God has called them to be and pray.
Pray is one of the most special things you can do. Utter the name of your children before God. How precious that is. Your spouse, your friends, your family. The truth is in American Christianity because our faith doesn’t always cost us, the things that we wrestle with are we’re too embarrassed to pray. But I don’t want bash us in the embarrassment. I understand like praying out loud is not easy. Praying with people may be uncomfortable, but if you look at the life of Daniel he’s willing to do it even if he thinks it’s going to lead to the Lion’s Den.
But can I encourage you, if you struggle with that in life, can I just encourage you with this. Mom or dad if you gather your kids and you pray with them, it’s not something that’s been natural to your family, I think it’s one of the most impactful things you can do for them in your Christian life, especially if you’ve never done it. And I think maybe one of the unique things about it is the beauty of you fumbling through it. The first few times you do it, it’s going to feel unnatural because it’s not something you’ve done regularly. But can I tell you, when family members, children see that humility. Dad wouldn’t normally pick this. Mom wouldn’t normally And they’re not necessarily the best at it, but God’s doing something in their life. Can I tell you, that will make more bigger of an impact in the lives of your children than if I pray?
I think in my home my kids expect me to pray. I’m a pastor. But in the struggle of prayer, even if it’s something that’s embarrassing for you just, just think, let the weight of what prayers that we’ve talked about outweigh, outweigh just the embarrassment. Who cares? Let’s just put ourselves aside and just recognize the sacredness of that moment. What it means to lift people before the Lord?
Let me close with these thoughts. Sunday, was it Sunday? Sunday, I wrote Sunday down there. I think it was a Sunday unless I mistakenly wrote that.
July 20th 1969, we land on the moon. Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, history doesn’t really record this for us, because I don’t know why it just doesn’t want us to know. You know before those guys stepped foot on the moon, I think they did a couple of sacred things. One, they partook of communion. Then they read Genesis Chapter One, which talks about the creation of all things. And then they quoted John Chapter 15 Verse Five. “You are the vine. I am the branches,” this is Jesus. “He who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit for apart from me you can do nothing.” And then they made one whatever step for man giant leap for mankind, whatever. But they focused it on their God. And they recognized that anything we do in this world comes by His strength.
Can I tell you the sacredness of prayer? Connects you to the power of that God that has the abilities to close the mouth of the lion. And I know we look at those things as impossibilities when we say to ourselves, “Yeah, but I’m me.” But I just want to keep reminding us that Daniel would have said the same thing. He came from the same background. He wasn’t a spiritual giant. He was just faithful.
You think about the church today, and not the building, the people, that is the church. What is the church doing today that it’s not going to do in Heaven? I think the answer to that question is the place where you stand in the gap. When you get to Heaven there weren’t be anymore people to reach for the Lord. We’ll know him as he desires to make himself known. While we’re here on earth we get to see disciples made to the ends of the earth. Prayer becomes an important part to see that happen. And a place that God has given you in order to make a cultural collision that impacts Christ for Christ in this world.