Chapter ten opens in a vulnerable spot for our beloved Daniel. It’s about 536 BC, just a few years after Cyrus, the king of Persia, issued a decree allowing the exiles from Judah to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:2-4).
Daniel is in his mid-eighties, physically unable to make the long journey to the land that was once Judah. In great distress, he mourns the difficulty facing those who have returned to Jerusalem. He fasts and prays for three weeks, seeking wisdom about the future of his people, God’s holy nation.
Three weeks seems like a long time to pray for a little wisdom. Why couldn’t God have answered him right away?
The angel tells Daniel his prayers were heard—on the first day. He’d been sent to Daniel right away, but the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed him for 21 days (Daniel 10:12-13). The angel was detained for the exact amount of time Daniel was waiting for an answer.
During those three weeks of fasting, Daniel probably felt as if his prayers weren’t heard. But they were! God had immediately sent His messenger with a vision for Daniel—an exact answer to his prayer!
Spiritual warfare is real. Daniel’s answer was delayed because the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed the messenger. This wasn’t a human prince, but a demonic spirit (possibly Satan himself), influencing the Persian Empire and opposing God’s purposes.
The angel was detained by evil spiritual forces while our man Daniel was on his knees praying earnestly for wisdom. Yes, Satan attempted to oppose God’s plan, and God allowed that. God fulfilled greater spiritual purposes that we will likely never know, but He also allowed this delay to sanctify Daniel.
What happens after fasting and praying for three weeks? Kneeling before the throne of heaven, seeking His face without ceasing? You’re changed. God had allowed this spiritual battle to commence as He worked to sanctify Daniel, drawing him close.
The angel reveals to Daniel God’s plan for His chosen people—a prophecy of the future so detailed it could only come from the One who holds it in His hands. The answer to Daniel’s prayer for wisdom was eternally significant. When evil forces work hard to thwart God’s purposes, we can be sure something significant is at stake.
Two years ago, I sat hunched over the edge of my desk chair, sobbing in my office. God had opened the door for me to start pursuing a seminary degree—a desire He’d grown in my heart for many years. Now, it was time. But I was suddenly crippled with fear.
How could I keep up with classes, a full-time job, ministry obligations, let alone any sense of community? Three weeks into my seminary education, I was about to quit.
God had called me to something big, but suddenly it didn’t feel practical anymore. By His grace alone I didn’t quit—I wanted to, but didn’t. And the exact same thing happened the following three semesters. A few times it was financial, a few times practical, but four semesters in a row, I almost quit.
It took me four semesters to realize one thing: we have an enemy who wants to destroy what God is doing (John 10:10). All of it. Every good thing, every calling God has placed on our lives, the enemy wants to destroy it.
Let us not forget that our struggle is not against flesh and blood on this earth. It is against the powers that work hard to thwart God’s purposes (Ephesians 6:12). God wants us prepared for battle, standing firm. He has given us weapons to demolish strongholds—His Word and prayer—and we need to be ready for the days of evil, which, according to Daniel 11, are still to come.
Look once more at the promise at the end of the vision. After all the wars and turmoil, all the fighting and oppression and annihilation, look at this promise: “Those who are wise will shine like the bright expanse of the heavens” (Daniel 12:3).
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6)