C.S. Lewis said, “If satan’s arsenal of weapons were restricted to a single one, it would be discouragement.” How true! In relation to our prayer time, satan tries to discourage with lies like—
- “God has bigger things on His mind than your puny request!”
- “God helps those who help themselves; what have you done for yourself?”
- “You created this situation and now you think God is going to bail you out?!?”
- “Haven’t you prayed about this long enough already?”
- “Your prayers don’t really make a difference.”
All of these lies are designed to discourage you, but always remember this—they are all lies! David said to God, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book. My enemies will retreat when I call to You for help. This I know: God is on my side!” (Psalm 56:8-9)
A great example of a man who prayed long and hard—and fought off the things that might discourage him to give up—was Daniel.
Daniel had previously been given insight from God to interpret dreams, visions, and other messages from heaven, but on one particular instance, he was stuck. God gave Daniel a vision, but not the meaning of that vision.
Daniel began to do two things in the physical realm that results in two unseen spiritual victories taking place.
First, Daniel prayed. Daniel not only prayed boldly, but he also prayed long. Although Daniel prayed for 21 days, when an angel arrived with God’s answer, the angel said, “From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your request was heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.”
Second, Daniel fasted. The word fast literally means “to cover the mouth.” In Daniel’s case, we know that for 21 days he abstained from meat and wine. But he also abstained from “choice food” (NIV). What are those? I think these might be our “comfort foods.” Foods we go to to help relieve stress. Foods that become substitute sources of help, instead of humbling ourselves to go to God and ask for wisdom.
As Daniel was praying and fasting, it appeared that nothing was happening. But there were actually two victories won out of human sight.
First, a spiritual battle was won. The angel sent to Daniel was locked in combat with a demon for 21 days before he broke free to come to Daniel. We are still involved in that kind of spiritual warfare today (see Ephesians 6:12-18).
Second, Daniel was being refined and strengthened. When the angel arrived, he called Daniel “highly esteemed.” Don’t miss this—this greeting is the same Hebrew word used for what Daniel fasted (“choice food”). In other words, the temporary thing Daniel fasted turned into something of invaluable strength.
What if Daniel had stopped praying after 2 days? 10 days? 20 days?
Daniel—and you and I—may not see with our natural eyes the victories that are being won, but make no mistake about it: Our fasting and praying IS doing something amazing.
Your prayers are being heard. Spiritual battles are being won. You are being refined. God IS going to accomplish something great. God IS being glorified. Don’t stop praying and fasting until God comes through!
Do not be discouraged as you wait on God. There is winning even in the waiting!
Join me this Sunday as we conclude on series looking at the bold pray-ers in the Bible.