While I was still in prayer, Gabriel… said to me, “Daniel, I have come to give you insight and understanding.” — Daniel 9:21-22
From time to time a friend will ask, “Anne, how can I pray for you?” My answer is often: “Please pray for wisdom. Discernment. I have so many decisions to make I need God’s clear direction.” If a prayer request could be worn out from repetition, then my prayer for wisdom is tattered and shredded. Besides my constant prayer, “Help!” the request for wisdom is the one I repeat most often. I need discernment regarding people. Insight into the Scriptures. Understanding of issues and situations. The mind of Christ. God’s wisdom to even know how to pray. Apparently, Daniel did, too.
One of the striking aspects of the Daniel prayer is that it was answered while he was praying. It seems illustrated by an experience I had in childhood…
The first pair of binoculars I ever used belonged to my Daddy. They were very large, very heavy, and very black. He kept them in a big brown leather case, and I had to handle them carefully so as not to drop or damage them. I remember looking through them in order to be the first to spot the Indigo Bunting, a small bird that returned to our house every year. His appearance signaled the beginning of summer, and so it was much anticipated.
He would make his presence known by the unique tune he sang while perched precariously on the very top of the maple tree below the rail fence in our front yard. He was so small that to my naked eye he looked like a black speck. When I first spotted him in the early summer, I would run get Daddy’s binoculars to verify the Indigo Bunting had returned.
However, when I first looked through the binoculars in his direction, everything would be blurred and out of focus: trees, leaves, mountains, sky, clouds all seemed to run together like a disoriented kaleidoscope. So holding the heavy binoculars as still as I could while adjusting the ring between the two eye-pieces, I would see him gradually come into sharp focus—a small, bright blue bird with black wings, swaying in the breeze on the top of the tree, heralding summer with his lilting tune.
Sometimes my prayers remind me of those binoculars. Occasionally when I’ve begun to pray, my vision seems blurred. Fuzzy. As though my prayer is out of focus because I don’t know exactly what to pray for or how to pray. But like adjusting the focus on the binoculars while I looked through them, I’ve found that as I pray, my thoughts become clearer, my focus sharper, and my requests more specific.
Daniel seems to have experienced this while praying because he states that God gave him insight and understanding, “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people…while I was still in prayer…” (Dan. 9:20-22). It’s encouraging to me to know I don’t have to know specifically how or what to pray in order to submit to my Father’s guiding whisper. Sometimes I’m intimidated to pray beyond the limits of what I can imagine or understand. But as I am praying, God can bring to my mind the thoughts and ideas that have eluded my own understanding.
Why is it that I think after I pray it’s my responsibility to do all I can to bring about the answer? Why do I take the battle into my own hands? Like a drowning person who tries to “help” the rescuer, I wonder how many times I have actually hindered God’s answer to my prayers. I find it encouraging to be reassured that I don’t have to know everything, understand everything, analyze everything before I pray for something.
This is true for all of us. We don’t have to have a clear comprehension of what the need is or what the solution should be. We don’t have to tell God how to “fix” things or even suggest what His course of action might be. We don’t have to solve the problem for Him. What a relief it is to know all we have to do is to get down on our knees and state the problem. The burden to resolve the situation is His, not yours and mine.
So…when I need insight and understanding, I get down on my knees.
For His glory,
1Adapted from Chapter One, The Daniel Prayer, Anne Graham Lotz, Zondervan Publishing, May 2016.
The Daniel Prayer
Release Date – May 10, 2016
Anne’s new book, based on Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9, will help you pray effectively for your nation, for your family, and for yourself. Anne answers questions such as:
- How do I know the God to whom I pray will listen?
- Does it matter where I am when I pray?
- How do I know God cares about my prayer?
- Are words in prayer all that matter, or does my attitude affect prayer?
- How do I know God will answer my prayer?
- Why should I pray?
- What difference does my prayer make?
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