Daniel was in trouble. He and his people had been carried off to a foreign land by an invading army, and the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed. Daniel did not know what to do, so he began to pray. He confessed the sins of his people and asked God to restore them to their land.
As he was praying, the angel Gabriel came to him and said, “Daniel, I have come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given” (Daniel 9:22-23).
Did you catch that? “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given.” What an amazing verse! Think about what that means.
First, it means that prayer is more powerful than what we sometimes imagine. I struggle to pray sometimes because it seems as though my words simply echo off the walls and never go anywhere or have any effect. However, this verse shows otherwise. When people pray, God listens and acts.
Second, I think this verse implies that we often miss the blessing of God, not because He could not bless us, help us or sort things out, but simply because we do not ask. In fact, James 4:2 says that very thing: “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
In Daniel’s case, the answer was prepared. All Daniel had to do was ask for it and then God set the whole thing in motion. It is almost like all the dominos were lined up just waiting for someone to knock over the first one to get things going. That first domino dropped when Daniel prayed.
Interestingly, Daniel has a similar experience in the next chapter of his book. This time he prays and the angelic messenger says, “Your words were heard and I have come in response to them” (Daniel 10:12). Isn’t that amazing? Again, the answer was given, but only after Daniel prayed.
Now, let me make one disclaimer: while I could show you literally hundreds of Biblical examples of people’s prayers being answered, there is no guarantee that you will always get the answer that you want. God is still in control and it is up to him to decide what is best for us. Praying is not like putting money in a vending machine. You will not always get what you think you need.
The answer you need may be just waiting for you.