I feel sometimes that a lot of my life has been spent in a waiting room. In my overseas travels, much time is spent waiting in airport lounges, in lineups, sitting on the plane as it idles on the tarmac, and resting during the flight. Only then, there are more lineups in customs and the luggage carousel. Waiting can be tiring! Or, I have spent time in doctors’ offices, my scheduled appointment long past, checking my watch for the umpteenth time to measure the delay. Harder for me is waiting for an answer to a long-prayed for outcome, for a problem that has seemingly persisted for years. It truly is a test for my faith.
The prophet Daniel was a man of persistent prayer. “When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks…..And the man said to me, ‘Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you…..don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.’” (Daniel 10:2,11,12 ESV) An elderly man, he had not joined the Jewish exiles who returned to rebuild Jerusalem; perhaps he was of greater use to them in his role in government. Was he in mourning because he himself wasn’t returning, because so few exiles returned, that Ezra was facing opposition in rebuilding the city and the Temple, or because it was all taking so long?
Daniel had been praying and fasting for three weeks in persistent prayer, when his vision of a mighty angel overwhelmed him, and frightened away those who were with him. He was strengthened by the touch of a heavenly hand, and by the wonderful words “you are very precious to God”. This angel had been sent because of Daniel’s prayer, and there is a clear link between his persistent prayer and the victory of the angels over forces of darkness.
Being in “the waiting room of prayer” isn’t easy, yet we are to keep praying. God may be allowing conflict in our lives and world, not out of reluctance to save us, but to train us as people of persistent prayer. How much help and clarity of vision has never come to us, or been delayed, because we stopped praying? Be assured we are precious to God, our prayers are heard in heaven, and He will answer in His perfect time.
Prayer: Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, the Christian’s native air, his watchword at the gates of death: he enters heaven with prayer. O Thou by Whom we come to God, the Life, the Truth, the Way, the path of prayer Thyself has trod: Lord, teach us how to pray (J. Montgomery, 1771-1854). Amen.