Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
When Daniel, who is famous for his episode with the lions, read the prophecies of Jeremiah, he learned that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. Now that those years were almost over, Daniel prayed that the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple would occur on schedule, saying: “I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and . . . sackcloth and ashes.” His prayer included confession and request: “Our sins and the sins of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn. . . . Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay” (Dan. 9:16, 19).
While Daniel was praying, the angel Gabriel came to him and said, “As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed.” Gabriel’s word was an explanation of the future. Yes, God would honor Jeremiah’s prophecy and Daniel’s prayer. Jerusalem would be rebuilt and a new anointed king would come. But an evil ruler would also come, and he would kill the anointed one and destroy the restored Jerusalem and the rebuilt temple (Dan. 9:25-27).
Thanks, Gabriel, for this helpful and encouraging answer to Daniel’s prayer. Jerusalem will be rebuilt and the anointed king will come. But then history will repeat itself with the murder of the king and the destruction of the city.
Daniel wasn’t exactly happy with this answer, so two years later, he fasted and prayed again. He says, “At that time I . . . mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no . . . wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all. . . .” At the end of three weeks, an angel appeared to Daniel and said, “Since the first day you . . . [started praying] . . . your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, . . . [but] soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come” (Daniel 10:12-14). This seems to describe angelic warfare where Michael, the protector of Israel (Dan. 12:1) is fighting against demonic princes of the Persian and Greek empires.
Daniel’s experience of prayer raises questions about the relationship of human prayer to what happens among angels and demons in the heavenly realm. I offer three observations.
1. First, our western secular worldview that earth is earth and heaven is heaven, and rarely the twain shall meet is clearly wrong. Daniel met and interacted with warrior angels who were protecting Israel (Daniel 12:1), fighting against the demonic princes of Persia and Greece (Daniel 10:20), and carrying messages between heaven and earth.
2. Second, in Ephesians 6:12-13, Paul describes a similar state of affairs when he says, “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. Therefore put on the full armour of God. . . .” In my early twenties, I struggled with depression and guilt and isolation and fear, but I refused to see my difficulties as spiritual warfare. I assumed that my biggest problem was me, not the rulers and authorities and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. But still, I regularly followed Paul’s advice, praying to put on the armour of God. My mind rejected Paul’s view of spiritual warfare at the same time my prayer life implemented it.
3. Third, Daniel’s prayer was heard immediately but it took Gabriel three weeks to get through with an answer. Sometimes I pray for simple stuff, like more self-control in my eating — less chocolate, less snacking, more vegetables, etc. Years ago, after someone pointed out Daniel’s experience to me, I noticed it often took about three weeks for me to begin receiving an answer that enabled my self-control. One of my difficulties in prayer is keeping a request in focus for three whole weeks! That’s a long time in the earthly realm I live in.
Our father, help us not to concern ourselves with “things too wonderful for us” (Psalm 131:1), or to entangle ourselves in battles better left to angels and demons. But we believe that our prayers influence a heavenly realm we only perceive dimly. And we believe the heavenly realm influences our lives. Guide us in this spiritual battle, Lord, make us good Christian soldiers.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Footnote: For a helpful discussion of spiritual warfare, see: Gerald Ediger in the journal Direction: A Mennonite Brethren Forum, Fall 2000 · Vol. 29 No. 2 · pp. 125–141 Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare in Historical Retrospect. Online at as of June 15, 2019 at https://directionjournal.org/29/2/strategic-level-spiritual-warfare-in.html.