“While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people … presenting my plea before the Lord my God … the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight … speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel … at the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” (Daniel 9: 1-23)
God delights me with His response to Daniel’s plea for mercy. Do you see it? At the beginning, just as Daniel began to pray, God responded. And even as Daniel continued in prayer, unaware that his pleas for mercy had already been heard, the word of the Lord God had already gone out!
And the same is true for us. Because I am God’s daughter through Christ, I am loved in the way Daniel was loved. So when I pray, God hears and acts. Gabriel will not come to me in swift flight with God’s answer, but God hears my plea. Because of this, I’m strengthened in my resolve to pray. I want to pray more. I want to confess my sin. I want to plead for mercy — both for myself, and for you.
And I want to pray immediately.
When I think of you
When I, going about my daily life, remember my child or my friend and their current need, I don’t want to just wonder how they are as I think back through our last interaction — I want to pray for them. Immediately. Even if I’m surrounded by other people, I want to silently pray, believing that “at the beginning of my pleas for mercy a word went out.”
- So, my dear church friend, I wonder how you’re doing, there in the distant hospital? I don’t just let myself wonder, I pray.
- Or I think of you, Christian I do not know, living in the path of encroaching persecution from a terrorist group, or in prison for your faith, and I don’t just think of you and hurt for you. I pray for you.
- I think of my friend across town who hurts with secret hurt she can tell very few. I pray for her.
- I begin to worry for my children off at school; growing, interacting, making life-forming decisions, out of my reach and in God’s hands. I stop and pray for them.
- As I pull up next to you, stranger at a red light, and you look sad in your car, I pray for you.
- And here’s a hard one — you are the persecutor of Christians in the horrifying scene on my news feed — you stand with your death-instrument in your hand, ready to execute. I stare, aghast at your photo. But if I’m to be like my Lord, I pray for you. I pray that the Light of the World would bring light to your darkness and free you from satan’s grip.
For just as no supernatural, transformative power is found in merely talking to myself, no supernatural, transformative power is to be found in merely thinking of you, hurting for you, worrying about you.
There is power, though.
Power in a moment; at “the beginning of my pleas for mercy.” Supernatural power to change and help and mysteriously work glory for God out of dark situations. Power we don’t want to miss being part of.
We want to pray. Not with formal or impressive words for other humans to hear and applaud, and not with formulaic emptiness, but with childlike confidence from our depths, to the Lord our God who loves us greatly, and even while we’re praying, hears.
We want to pray. Immediately.
Study of Praying Hands, Albrecht Durer, 1508