Tag Archives: persistent prayer

It’s a War Out There!

Peninsula Community Church

September 8, 2019

Daniel 10:11-14 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”

Throughout history there have been many great battles. Many of these battles changed history and redirected the destiny of the world. When I think of great battles, I think of the battle of Waterloo, Gettysburg and Antietam in the Civil War, Yorktown in the Revolutionary war, Normandy in WWII, and many more. Yorktown was particularly interesting as this victory was won by a group of poorly organized and untrained men who had an overwhelming desire to achieve freedom for the fledgling nation called America. Their enemy was more powerful and better equipped but they won because they had heart and they had vision. 

As we look at this part of Daniel’s story we find that it is really a story about spiritual warfare and victory that comes from God alone. As we review the story, we understand this is truly God’s story. As I have noted so many times before, the Bible is a story of God’s redemption. While Daniel is just one of the characters God used to bring about the vision of redemption for those in captivity, it was really God’s story. God’s plan had always been to redeem Israel and He was using Daniel to set the stage for that work. Prophetically, God had promised Israel that they would return to Jerusalem and that Jerusalem would be restored as a city and Israel as a nation.

As we pick up this story, we find that Daniel had been praying. He had been praying persistently. He had been praying defiantly. He had been praying confidently. He had faith in His God and He trusted God big time. The problem however is that Daniel was not getting an answer to his prayer. He had prayed and nothing was happening. For many of us we might have given up, but Daniel did not. He continued to pray, and he continued to reach out to God. He trusted God more than anything else or anyone else. His trust was not in his prayers but in the God to whom he was praying. He knew that God would answer in His time and in His way.

At this point in the story, we find that the angel of God appears. Although Gabriel is not directly mentioned in this particular verse, there is an assumption that this was Gabriel as he was the angel God sent to deliver critical messages. Also, we believe this is Gabriel because we find that Gabriel was quick to attend to Daniel’s need in Daniel 9:21. It is noteworthy that the name Gabriel means “God is my strength.” The angel speaks and the words he speaks are powerful and important. The message he shares is a message for us today as much as it was in Daniel’s day.

Notice the first words spoken by Gabriel. Gabriel says that Daniel is greatly loved. He is not just loved, he is greatly loved. Gabriel communicated God’s love for Daniel. God always wanted the best for Daniel in every area of his life, including answered prayer. In this communication, Gabriel is saying that the reason for the unanswered pray is not that Daniel was not loved, but rather that God had a plan for Daniel and the answer had already been set in motion. Too often the enemy makes us believe that because we do not hear from God, we are somehow not loved by God. We can feel forgotten when our prayers are not answered.

Gabriel speaks words of life to Daniel. He let him know that his prayers were being answered. His prayer had already been answered, but the answer was being detained. Notice that Gabriel gave two reasons for the answer to prayer and he gave one reason why the prayer was delayed. The reason Daniel’s prayer was being answered is that Daniel had set his heart to understand and that he humbled himself. His prayer was being held up because there was a battle in heaven.

One of the things that is acknowledged by Gabriel is that Daniel had an understanding of faith and the power of prayer. There is much in life that we do not understand but that must not stop us from praying. How refreshing it is to know that God wants us to understand Him and His word. There is nothing more confusing and heartbreaking than not understanding what God wants from us or being confused about His purpose for our life. Daniel was experiencing dreams and He had been placed before the king at this time to be a servant of the Kingdom of God. Daniel needed understanding and he prayed for that. 

It is also noteworthy that Gabriel praises Daniel for his humility. Daniel had executed a level of humility that had not gone unnoticed by God. The truth is no one else sees or knows our heart, but God sees us and He knows us. He knows our attitude and He knows our heart. He sees us and knows us better than we know ourselves. Many times we are judged and criticized by others but God judges the heart because He knows us and He knows our every thought. 

Know this, God hears our prayers as soon as we pray them even though we do not readily see the answer. We have also been assured through Scripture that God knows our needs before we ask (Matthew 6:8). Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. You see the Pharisees believed that number of words, the repetition of words, and length of one’s prayer would get God’s attention. While that was their belief, the best way to pray is through humility of heart and honesty before God. 

So often God is working behind the scenes and is accomplishing a great work that will be manifested through us and on our behalf. He is at work when it seems that things are dark and we are struggling. God never sleeps nor does He slumber. We need to understand that when we pray God hears our prayer, but sometimes there is a battle that erupts and the answer seems to be afar off. The battle which began in heaven and was reinvigorated in Genesis 3 is still being waged today. It is a battle of what our view of God will be like. That is one of the greatest battles we will face. Does our view of God change when we do not see prayer answered? If our view of God is distorted through unanswered prayer, the enemy of our souls will work overtime to stop our prayers from being answered. He knows that in so doing too many times we will turn from God as our source and provider.

When we pray, sometimes the answer seems to avoid us. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes our prayers are not answered because there is sin in our hearts. When there is unconfessed sin, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. He will answer, but He is not obligated. Sometimes our prayers are not answered because we are asking from the wrong motivation. That is what sin does. It leads us to ask with the wrong motivation in our hearts. James 4:3 states“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Sometimes our prayers are not answered because of relational issues. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7). This does not mean that we are responsible for the way our wives or others for that matter act, but we are responsible for how we love our wives and how we love others. When we do not honor our spouses, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. 

And then there are times when our prayers are not answered because there is a battle being waged. This is what happened to Daniel. He prayed and his prayer was delayed. Notice that Daniel was not even aware of the battle, but it was happening none-the-less. God is fighting on our behalf even when we do not see it or realize it. This battle was taking place in the heaven-lies. For twenty-one days Michael the Archangel was doing battle on Daniel’s behalf. He was fishing on Daniel’s behalf and he won. Here is the deal, if you are a child of God you need to know that God is fighting for you. He is dispatching His angels on your behalf to conquer what you face. It may take a day. It may take a week. It may take 21 days. It may take a month. What matters is that we keep praying and in due time God will bring the answer we need. 

That is why Paul could says For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

This passage is critical for us. Notice the words here. “I have come because of your words.” Put that together with the words in verse 11: “I have been sent to you.” The point is that God answered Daniel’s prayer as soon as he began to pray three weeks before. From the first day Daniel humbled himself before God, his words were heard. The bottom line is that Gabriel had come to Daniel because of Daniel’s words or in other words his prayers. Know this, you are important to God and He is answering your prayers. You might not see an answer right away. You might be losing hope, but keep praying. Keep holding on. God is working on your behalf. He may have even dispatched angels to fight for you but He is working and His purposes will be accomplished. Let us pray. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Persistent Prayer

Peninsula Community Church

Persistent Prayer 

September 3, 2017

Luke 18:1-8 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Let me begin by asking you a couple of questions. Have you been praying for something that you desperately need to have an answer? Have you become a bit discouraged by the lack of answers? Let me ask you another question. Do you believe God to be sovereign? Can God do whatever He wants? If God is sovereign and He can do what He wants, then why do we pray? If we pray, then how much do we have to pray? Why does it seem sometimes that we have to bother or pester God to get Him to answer our prayers?

As we consider the theology of prayer, we must first come to the conclusion that we must be people of prayer. We pray because it builds faith. We pray because it keeps us focused on Christ. We pray because within us is the power of Christ, and through prayer that power is released into the circumstances and events of our lives. And then, from our passage, today, Jesus reminds us that we are to pray and not lose heart. It is here that we find that prayer and hope are intricately connected.

It is noteworthy that He says that they ought to pray. This speaks to me that the disciples did not always do that. Just like the disciples, we often fail to be persistent and committed to prayer. Here is a fact. To fail to pray is to set ourselves up to lose heart and be discouraged. The enemy of our souls loves to get us to shorten our prayers, delay our prayers, or even omit our prayers altogether. He knows that if he can deceive us into a lack of prayer, we will be more subjected to hopelessness and discouragement. In our lack of prayer, we get our focus off of Jesus. In our lack of prayer, we focus on the problem and not Jesus.

There was much in Jesus’ day to cause one to lose heart. The Romans were brutal to the people around them. They had economic problems. They had sin problems. But as in their day, there is much for us to lose heart over as well. There is the flooding in Texas and Louisiana. There is violence on the streets. There is an all out effort to destroy the fabric of who we are as a nation. Marriages are failing. Children are rebelling. People are filled with anxiousness. People are sick. Friends die. So many are losing heart.

This idea of losing heart is nothing new. In 2 Corinthians chapter three and four, Paul reminds us that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17) and for that reason we should not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1). Paul recognizes that resident within us is the power of God. Through prayer His power is released to reach people and bring hope (Ephesians 3:20-21). In 2 Corinthians 4:16 we find that because the grace of God is being extended to us, we do not have to lose heart. Through prayer we see and experience the impact of this upon our life. Through prayer, we release the Spirit of the Lord in our life, and by grace we recognize our need for pray.

To illustrate the power of prayer, and in this case persistent prayer, Jesus shares a parable, a story or word picture that helps us understand a Biblical truth. In this parable, we see there are three key characters. The first is the persistent widow. Notice there is no mention of her social standard or her spiritual condition. What we know is that she was a widow, she had a need, and she was persistent in bringing her need to the judge. Historically, we know that widows in Jesus’ day did not fair well. When a woman was widowed and there was no one in her husband’s family to marry her, she was not cared for and she had to fend for herself.

That brings us to the second character in this story. The widow went to this judge to arbitrate her case. The judge she addressed was described as a godless man. He had no fear of God nor did he reverence God in his decisions. Secondly, this judge did not respect men. He was not only an ungodly man, he was one that did not get along with others. Historically, it has been documented that many judges in that day were known to give favors to those who would give a wink and would pass a few bucks under the table. He made decisions based on one’s status and what he could gain. He was always worried about his status. He was concerned more about what was in it for him than what was best for the people.

The widow had a need and she presented her need to the judge. She was persistent in her request for help. She would not leave him alone. She would not give up or let go in presenting her need. He finally, in desperation, surrendered to her request. In so doing, it is noteworthy to see the verbiage he used. The judge states that he relented so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. This literally meant that he was afraid that she would give him a black eye. He was not worried about her harming him physically, but that his credibility in the community would be impacted (even though he had done that to himself). Because of her persistence he came to her aide.

It is at this point in the story, that Jesus turns a corner and brings us to a third character in the parable. Jesus expresses the idea that if an ungodly, unjust, and unfriendly judge would come to the aid of a persistent woman, how much more will a God who loves His children do for them, especially when they are persistent in their prayers.

Notice in this passage, Jesus states that He will answer speedily. This seems to be a contradiction of terms in the sense that we are to be persistent and yet He answers speedily. Here is the point, we are to be persistent and recognize the work of God in our life. We continue to pray even though we do not see the answer immediately. But, He does answer us immediately. I say yes He does. Sometimes He says yes. Sometimes He says no. Sometimes He says wait because He has something better for you and/or there is something for you to learn about life.

Here is the lesson for us today. First, we must not give up on prayer. Be persistent. Do not give up. Continue to focus on God and His ability to bring an answer to our questions and to our need. As noted before, there is a tendency to hurry, shorten, be careless, or even omit our prayer. In so doing, our lives get out of focus and we can begin to lose heart and become discouraged.

Secondly, we endure things not durable through prayer. Through prayer we remain focused on God’s ability. Through prayer we are expressing our faith in God who can bring about His will and His purpose in our life. Peter added to this discussion when he made the following observation. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers (1 Peter 4:7).

Third, through prayer we build hope because we focus on the one who is able. Our trust level is increased and our trust in Jesus brings us hope. Notice what Job had to say about hope. Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face (Job 13:15). Do you remember Job? In a very short period of time, Job lost everything. He lost his source of income. He lost his business as they were attacked by an enemy force. A fire fell from heaven that destroyed his livestock. And then a storm blew through and he lost his family to a strong wind when their home was destroyed. With all of this, He was able to keep his focus on God. Here is Job’s point. Though I lose my life, I will have hope and I will continue to bring my needs to Him. I will not give up. I will press on and I will keep focused on God.

So here is where the rubber meets the road. What are you confronting? What is weighing you down? Where do you need an intervention of God’s grace? How are  you doing? Are you discouraged? Is your faith failing? I would suggest that you turn to the one who is able to build hope and faith in us today. Press in. Be persistent. In due time God will answer you. He will make a way. By the way remember the story of Job.

Here is the end of the story. In Job 42 we find that the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before (v 10).  And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys (v. 12). And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days (v. 16-17). He could have given in and he could have lost hope, but He stayed focused on God no matter how bad things had gotten.

Today, I encourage you to stay focused and trust that God will answer and He will provide. If we pray, we will be able to live life to the fullest so that when we are no longer here it can be said of us, he/she died an old man/woman and full of days. Let us pray

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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