Archives for posts with tag: Prayer: Moving God’s Heart

Prayer series
You could say that prayer made Daniel fit for a palace. He was taken to Babylon as a refugee – a poster child for the Babylonian re-education program of the Hebrew people, initiated by the King Nebuchadnezzar.

Right off the bat Daniel had to rely on prayers because he chose to reject the King’s diet. He and his friends asked for water and a meager sampling of vegetables when they could have feasted on wine, meat and other decadent stuff from the King’s kitchen. Well, they prayed and God blessed their diet. (Don’t you wish that’s how it worked today?).

Because of his bold prayers, I believe, Daniel rose to the attention of the King and eventually became an influential man in all of Persia for years to come. His enemies took notice and tried to bring about his demise, but Daniel was astute. I imagine they tried to throw all kinds of appetizing things before him, but Daniel had the self-control thing down pat.

So they decided to try to catch him in matters of his religion. It was a simple proposition: Babylon was infested with gods for all kinds of occasions while Daniel believed in only one God. If they could mandate Daniel to pray to one of their gods or even to the king himself, and he refused, it would be check-mate. But their plan went up in smoke, together with them, because God honored Daniel’s faithful prayers with his window open even when it was insane to do so.

Throughout the book that carries his name Daniel keeps occupied with affairs of the Kingdom and prayer. He interprets dreams and prays. He advises kings and prays. He studies Scriptures and prays. He fasts and prays. So much praying that I think no one else except Jesus should use the title “prayer warrior.” No wonder this guy outlived so many kings who ate so much better than he.

Daniel’s prayer of confession in chapter 9:4-19 should be a model for all of us. A moving prayer that showed concern not only for his own sins but for those of the entire nation of Israel. Daniel was a global prayer warrior. He prayed and at times the response was supersonic, like in chapter 9 when the Angel Gabriel appeared to him at the speed of light. But he also prayed when the response was delayed.

Fascinating. In chapter 10 Daniel starts praying and fasting for three weeks. He also says that he didn’t even shower during that time – yuck! Apparently, Daniel had decided to continue this until he got a response. Bold. Well, three weeks later the response came in the person of the Archangel Michael. Daniel’s prayer seemed to be climbing to higher echelons of heaven since now it was an Archangel, not simply an angel, who was dispatched to answer him.

But the amazing thing is that when Michael sees Daniel in a vision he says that he had been dispatched the moment Daniel had started to pray but it took him three weeks to get to Daniel. No, Michael was not overweight and his wings didn’t experience a wardrobe mal-function. He was opposed by a spiritual entity he calls “the Prince of Persia.”

Whatever the “Prince of Persia” was he was a force to be reckoned with. But in the end God prevailed and Michael delivered the answer to Daniel’s prayer. And the moral of the story is that prayer is first and foremost a spiritual activity. If our prayers have any spiritual teeth, the enemy will oppose them. But we must press on, persist, and boldly keep storming the gates of heaven. But remember: Daniel didn’t simply take a crash course on prayer. He didn’t just listen to a TED talk on the power of prayer. He had practiced his whole life. And when the time was right he also got to be involved in the battle for the survival of God’s people.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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Prayer series
I grew up speaking a language in which the word “ordinary” was a bad word. You used it when you wanted to humiliate people, to tell them that they were less than noble, that their pedigree was tainted and their birth all too common. The word was so strong that required no other qualification. All you needed to say was, “You, ordinary one!” That was it. Punches were flying.

So I have had to pause every time I read James’ statement that Elijah was an “ordinary man.” Now, to be sure, James doesn’t exactly use the word “ordinary.” It is more like “Elijah was like unto us…” Something like that. It’s all Greek to me… The point is that Elijah had the same nature as ourselves. He was cut from the same cloth. In other words, he was… ordinary.

This prophet, who came from a little farming village, ended up in the company of kings. He never studied Meteorology but controlled the climate over an entire nation for three and a half years with just the power of his word. And yes, he also brought the son of a poor widow back from the dead. So how was this guy “ordinary”?

I had to go back and look again at the guy who wrote those words. James was a brother of Jesus. He grew up with Jesus. He heard all the things people said about Jesus. He interacted with the guys who walked around with Jesus for a little over three years. From all we know, he could have even witnessed some of the miracles performed by Jesus. Yet, he didn’t believe. Quite the contrary. He may even have participated in the plot to have Jesus committed because his family thought he was insane.

But something happened after the resurrection of Christ. James believed. From then on his life would be utterly different. He became the leader of the church in Jerusalem, wrote a famous canonical book, and ended up dying a violent death because he refused to deny that Jesus was the Messiah. James too was an “ordinary” man until he met face-to-face with the resurrected Messiah.

So could this be what James had in mind when he said that Elijah was an “ordinary” man? When he was operating in the flesh, Elijah was running scared from Jezebel, but when He was operating in the Spirit of God, he singlehandedly took on 800 false prophets and destroyed them.

The same is true of us. On our own, we can only do ordinary things. We only see the natural world. We only hear the noise of what is immediately before us. But from time to time God intervenes in our lives, and we become mighty. We can defeat armies and make the enemy flee from us. Then, like Elijah, we can hear the sound of rain even before the tiniest of clouds begins to form in the sky. We can because God gives us the gift of faith. And faith “is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).

The point is that just like James and Elijah we can go through our whole lives without ever operating in the Spirit. We don’t sense God’s leading. We don’t follow His nudging. We dare not take risks for Him. So we may end up always being on the peripheral of the center from which God’s powerful work comes. We choose safety over obedience. We bend to the sounds of familiarity. We miss the boat.

Shame on us. We must change that. First let’s recognize our humble beginning – that we are from dust, really ordinary. Then let’s ask God to rush through us a fresh outpouring of His Spirit so we can do extraordinary things for Him. Are you willing? Come this Sunday and find out about what God can do through a life that is totally surrendered to Him.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA