Recently, Lynette Fuson, our Director of Counseling & Soul Care reminded our staff that prayer is primarily relational, not functional. Her talk was such a refreshingly simple reminder. But the irony of the moment was that she was reminding a bunch of pastors and ministry “professionals.”
You would think that we’d be the last people to ever forget that our Father desires to hear from us because he loves us. It’s this realization that first hits the exasperated Daniel: “As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed,” (Daniel 9:22). Of all the important (and confusing) things that Gabriel says to Daniel, this was the first and foremost thing he said to him.
Before God gives us what we think we need, He reminds us of the real need we have for His love – and that He has really provided it for us.
It shows us an important aspect of prayer: that while God makes himself available to us for any requests we have – He is primarily interested in reminding us of his love for us before he resolves the tension. Psalm 139:4 reminds us before a word is on my tongue, He knows it completely. He knows us by heart and by name.
It’s also interesting to reflect upon the fact that while Gabriel gave Daniel a vision full of mysterious symbols and numbers, Gabriel did not speak in such mysterious ways when telling Daniel that he was held in high regard by God. He spoke plainly to Daniel. Similarly to how Jesus displays the straightforward love of God by dying for you and for me.
But it’s often the tension of our life circumstances that drive us to that reminder over and over again, just as the tension drove Daniel to his knees and to him pouring out his heart to God. In his moment of distress and confusion over the vision, God mercifully sent the angel Gabriel to give insight and understanding. God has shown his faithfulness in Daniel’s life repeatedly, and Daniel has shown his faithfulness to God. Daniel was real with God–he acknowledged, confessed, repented, and finally pleaded for God’s mercy for his nation. God’s response–personal love for Daniel and mercy toward Israel.
When we remember God’s love for us first and foremost, we remember His faithfulness and even in the worst moments our hope is restored.
Pastor Ryan Lunde