Time delay in prayer answers

Posted 03 May 2013

We have been praying to God for an answer to a particular issue for some days, but haven’t received a definitive answer… yet. Today I was reminded of the time delay Daniel experienced when he prayed to the Lord. The story can be read in Daniel chapter 10…

Daniel 10:12-14 (NLT)
12 Then he [an angel of the Lord] said, “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. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”

I remember reading this story several times before & it seems pertinent to our situation now. I draw your attention to verse 12 which states, “Since the first day you began to pray… your request has been heard in heaven.” It seems that our prayers go up at the speed of thought (instantly) to God.
The angel then says to Daniel that he has been sent in answer to Daniel’s prayer.
The next verse is very interesting (verse 13) because it states that the REASON for the 21 day delay in that angel’s delivery of God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer was due to, “…the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia [who] blocked my way.” That person is possibly Satan/ the Devil, or possibly some other deamon. It doesn’t really matter who it was, what is interesting is that there appears to be a very real battle going on in the unseen realm of the spirit world, WHICH CAUSED THE DELAY.

I don’t think God’s reply, in the form of His thoughts coming to us, are ever delayed or can be delayed by any unseen spiritual forces of evil. In the story above it was an angelic messenger who was delayed. In the Old Testament it appears that God often used angels to communicate His will to human beings. Clearly, such beings can be delayed in delivering there message from God to man, by evil spirits or deamons. But I don’t think God’s direct thoughts “beamed” down to us can be delayed at all!
Joshua 06 - Fall of Jericho - scene 03 - Circling Jericho PB BC 191x284px col

There remains though the question of why it is that sometimes we don’t get an immediate reply to our prayers to God. Perhaps there is a PURPOSE IN THE DELAY, such as God’s desire to increase our persistence in prayer. This persistence would not, of course, come into being if God answered all of our prayers instantly! And it is quite possible that God providing instant replies to all of our prayer requests would actually keep us in spiritual immaturity, rather than time delays in His answers, which have the effect of increasing our maturity, particularly in the realm of persistence in prayer.

I’m not sure whether or not God uses angels to communicate His answers to our prayers any more. After all, Jesus’ death on the cross opens up direct access for Christians to communicate with God the Father at all times, so it would seem unnecessary for Him to send angels with His answers nowadays, rather than communicating His will directly.

Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, which means that there is no distance between our thought-prayers & God hearing them! The Holy Spirit IS God, & one of His many honourable tasks is to reminds us of God’s true nature (loving, caring, compassionate towards us, etc) & to encourage us towards spiritual maturity.

The result of this story in Daniel is that MY CONFIDENCE INCREASES that God always hears my prayers, & that He will answer me, even if there is a mysterious time delay. Even though I may not know WHY there is a time delay, I can be confident that God WANTS to answer my prayers, & that’s good enough for me!


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