Having this blog is really a great way of not only getting my thoughts across, but also my Dad’s sermons, allowing His ministry to continue in my own small way.
Here is a sermon he preached at First Assembly of God (where he pastored), Dumas Texas. It was preached on May 30, 2004.
Daniel 10:1-3; 10-14.
Daniel 10:1-3 (NIV) – (1) In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a Great War. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. (2) At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. (3) I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
Daniel 10:10-14 (NIV) – (10) A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. (11) He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. (12) Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. (13) But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. (14) Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”
Recently I read some interesting stats that were released from a survey that church statistician George Barna had taken. He states that, “While people are clearly spending less time involved in religious practices such as Bible reading, prayer, and participating in church activities, 70% claim that their own religious faith is consistently growing deeper.”
Now I do not think that it takes a rocket scientist to understand the implication of Barna’s survey. It indicates that while people are praying less, they consider themselves to be growing more spiritually. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me there’s something wrong with that picture. For one thing, I do not believe that you can do less Bible study, and pray less and grow more spiritual. No Bible study, and prayerlessness are not compatible to true spiritual growth. This tells me that a lot of Christians are deceiving themselves when it comes to spiritual growth. I have know doubt that the only way that a person is going to grow spiritually is for them to study the Word of God, and pray regularly, and participate in the activities of the church.
But for this message I want to deal primarily with the aspect of prayer in spiritual growth. If prayer is necessary for true spiritual growth then why do so many Christians fail to pray, as they should?
I believe that my text in Daniel 10 reveals the answer to why so many Christians fail to pray properly. From my text we see where Daniel had received a revelation. But understanding of that revelation did not come easily. It only came as Daniel did some agonizing in prayer and in fasting for the understanding of the message of the vision he had seen. For three long weeks, this man Daniel, who had been used to getting on his knees 3 times a day to earnestly pray and seek God, here did more than just pray 3 times a day to get an understanding of the vision that had been given to him. He for three longs weeks constantly prayed to get that understanding of the vision that he had received.
It is in these efforts to get that understanding that reveals the very thing that serves as a deterrent to many Christians that causes them not to pray. What is that deterrent? It is spiritual warfare.
Notice what the angel of the Lord said to Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now here the reference to the prince of Persia was not a reference to an earthly prince. But it was a reference to a demonic prince that was in control of the reigning powers over the kingdom of Persia.
The delay of an answer to prayer there can be attributed to the hindrances caused by satanic power. Literally, it was satanic power that Daniel was fighting against as he prayed; it took spiritual warfare for him to receive an answer, and it is this same spiritual warfare that Christians face today when they pray. And it is this spiritual warfare that causes Christians not to pray, as they should. You see, know one truly enjoys spiritual warfare. It can at times make prayer difficult.
Oh, there are times when you get on your knees to pray when there is an absense of spiritual warfare. And during those times prayer is so easy. During those times prayer is enjoyable and so blessed. It is during times like that, that you are flooded with the presence of the Lord, and you are filled with such joy.
However, friend, that is not the norm. The norm is when you pray, the powers of hell are there to resist you like they did Daniel. This is seen in Zechariah 3:1 – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. This is what happens when we pray also. The power of the enemy will be there to oppose you. For the devil does not want you to pray. He knows very well that, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.” He knows that it is through prayer that he will be defeated. So then he does everything in his power to detour you from praying.
Next, the weakness of the flesh is also a deterrent to Christians that keeps them from praying.
Notice what it says in both Matthew 26:41 and Mark 14:38 – The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. In order to pray you must conquer the weakness of the flesh.
The power of the Holy Spirit will enable you to do what you are not capable of doing yourself. And it is here where that power is needed most, so that we can overcome the resistance of the flesh to pray. Don’t allow the weakness of the flesh to detour you from praying. Through the power of the Spirit, overcome the weakness of the flesh and become the man or woman of prayer that you need to be.
Prayer should be among your highest priority. Jesus told His disciples in Luke 18:1 – ….that they should always pray and not give up. Paul admonished us in 1 Thessolonians 5:17-18 – Pray without ceasing….For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Luke 21:36 – …..pray always. Church, don’t allow the weakness of the flesh to detour you from praying as you should.
Finally, a lack of time is a deterrent to prayer.
I’ve never seen a time when time passes so fast. Life seems like a rat race. You get up in the morning and suddenly its bedtime again, and you wonder what has become of the day.
I believe that Christians need to schedule prayer, or else they will never pray. If you don’t schedule a time of prayer you will never get around to praying before the day is gone.
Daniel had a schedule and routine time for prayer. Daniel 6:10 – Daniel….home….in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Notice the words, “as was his custom since early days.” Daniel was a man in his 80’s when the Bible states this of Daniel praying 3 times a day. But from the wording of Scripture, Daniel had made this his, “custom since early days.” That he started it when he was a young man, and he kept that custom, or routine of praying.
Even though his enemies tried to see to it that he would be put to death for keeping that routine, yet Daniel could not be detoured from praying as his custom was.
This let’s me know that you and I should have a scheduled time of prayer also. The Apostle’s did. The Bible says of Peter and John in Acts 3:1 – Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer.
Do you have a scheduled time to pray? If you don’t you no doubt are not praying as you should. If prayer is not a priority with you, then you will never schedule a time for prayer.
Church don’t allow spiritual warfare, or the weakness of the flesh, or a lack of time prevent you from praying. Prayer is the life’s blood of your spiritual life. Without it you will die spiritually.