21 Day Daniel Prayer Challenge
A Journey has begun – Stuart Hall
It was late November. My wife Lyndell was sharing with me about Daniel’s 21 day prayer and fasting. Something sparked in my spirit, and I pricked up my ears. This is for you, God was saying. Going away and reflecting on the passage, I began to see the battle raging in the world of angels and demons. Gabriel, like an army general with an assignment, encountered opposing forces headed up by “the Prince of Persia” and finally broke through after 21 days with reinforcements from another general, Michael. Gabriel’s tells us his job was to support and defend King Darius, the ruler who would, in a human sense, determine what happened to the Jewish nation, and a future Messiah hung on that decision.
This whole battle started when Daniel was stirred up by God’s promise through Jeremiah of the return of the Jews from Babylon after 70 years. He’d been a youth at the time of the exile and it was time for the prophecy to be fulfilled. He went to prayer and fasting again to understand what should be happening and what he should do.
It impressed me that Daniel’s fast was just long enough for Gabriel’s breakthrough, and it led me to thinking how many lives and situations I knew that needed a breakthrough: stuck relationships, hindered ministries, unsaved spouses, challenged relationships, disunity in teams, ineffectiveness in reaching our community with the gospel, godless government prevailing, attack on our families – the list could go on. What if Daniel had given up on day 20? Would Gabriel’s efforts have been in vain?
I can’t answer that for sure, but I felt that God was pressing me to begin 2016 with a 21 days of prayer and fasting. After prayer, I shared this with Lyndell, with our LBA, with some other pastors. I got green lights and began to move forward. Time was short before Christmas, and I would be away at my daughter Emily’s wedding in Melbourne.
Rev Matthew Bolte a Townsville pastor called by God to join to the Australian Prayer Network had spoken at our 2014 NQ District Conference about early revivals in Australia through the Methodists and had traced them back to seasons of prayer in England. He also spoke at the NQ and SQ District Pastors & Spouses Retreat in 2015. As I shared this with Matthew, his heart leapt, and when I asked, he was eager to write some devotional material for the 21 days.
The theme of BREAKTHROUGH was emerging, and the following Sunday (6th Dec) I was impressed to preach on this from Daniel 9-11. Our chapel was being revamped with a new stage, and the existing back wall would move back 2.8 metres on the Monday. I felt impressed to give people the opportunity to seek and believe God for breakthrough 2016, and to let them express that outwardly by smashing through the gyprock sheeting with a hammer to reveal the framing beneath and the room behind the wall. It was an exciting Sunday as all ages – children through to seniors – expressed in a tangible way their petition to God for breakthrough.
This was followed up through December with the promotion of the 21 Days Daniel Prayer Challenge, beginning with a New Year’s Eve Service attended by 42 people in the chapel which now had a new stage, but no floor covering and much that needed to be painted. The call to pray and fast was taken up by about 20 people that we know of, with people fasting from certain foods, media (like Face Book), TV., “any complaining at all” and so on. Corporate prayer times were held each day with up to 7 people attending. Three other churches in Townsville also ran with this 21 day challenge and we met as combined churches Thursday evening with up to 30 people attending.
On the 3rd January, just a few days after we began the Challenge, I was led to preach on the Promises as the foundation of our prayers. Daniel had been motivated by the promise of their return to Israel after 70 years in captivity, as prophesied by Jeremiah. As I concluded the service, my wife Lyndell came up to me and asked if I would invite the people to write their promises on the bare floor of the stage. She’d seen a facebook message about a church that recorded promises under their carpet, and our carpet was about to be laid in just 48 hours. I made the offer to the congregation and stage was filled with dozens of people busy writing down their promises. We took photos as a reminder.
As we approached the end of the 21 days, the question arose, “What next?”
I decided to read through Jonathan Edwards’ book titled, “An Humble Attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God’s people in extraordinary prayer for the revival of religion and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom on earth.” This book had been referred to by Rev Bolte on several occasions as sparking significant revival of prayer in England and Scotland particularly through the 1700s and the time of the Wesley brothers.
The premise of the book is that prophecies made through Zechariah refer not just to the return of the Jews, but the culmination of events before the return of Christ. In a similar way to Jesus’ first coming, there are signs and preparations that should be made for His second and immanent coming.
Key Promises from Zechariah include:
Zech 8 20 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, 21 and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.’ 22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him.” 23 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’”
Zech 12 10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child … 13 1On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
When reprinted in England, editors also included what had happened amongst Baptist pastors in the Midlands. In the year 1784, a resolution was formed to establish through the association, a meeting of prayer for the general revival and spread of religion. This was to be observed the first Monday evening in every calendar month, by all the churches. Churches in Scotland chose quarterly meetings that continued for 9 years.
I noted that the goal was not a new church organisation, but the revival of believers and winning of the lost brought about by explicit agreement and visible union of God’s people in extraordinary prayer. They called it in some places a concert of prayer.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
I have been encouraged on a number of occasions when the numbers have been small to remember how historically revivals began in such a humble way. God has challenged me to persist in prayer, both corporate and including other churches in a local area and not to be weary in well-doing. When I consider the experience of others in England who continued for 2 years on a monthly basis, who decided that a further 7 years was needed, then it makes challenges me to ask if I am really serious about seeking for such an outpouring. We may not be fully persuaded in Jonathan Edwards’ eschatology, but God has vindicated his message many times over in the revivals of the past.
Those who have shared this journey have agreed that it should continue, and will do so after Easter on a monthly basis, moving between the various churches of those who share this vision.
I believe Jesus’ words that the harvest is great, but the labourers are few, and that we ought to petition the Lord of the harvest to raise up labourers for the harvest. (Matt 9:37-38) Our current emphasis is consistent with this Scripture. I believe it is also consistent with the Jewish Feast of Booths /Trumpets, which is a celebration of the final harvest of the Jewish harvest season, correlating to the ingathering of souls before the return of Christ, which we see in many parts of the persecuted world.
WHAT HAS IT ACCOMPLISHED?
Stories are significant, but often difficult to share for personal and confidential reasons, so I will share several anonymously. Such stories, it must be recognised, are just a snapshot in big picture at this time. However, we do want to give glory to God.
Christian Book Shop
The Hub bookshop needed to find a new home or be shut down, since its host, the Christian Radio Station LIVE FM was moving and could not continue to provide the venue. Two people went into partnership to keep it running but exhausted available options for economic reasons. A close friend – involved in the Daniel Prayer Challenge shared that they were praying for the bookshop that they felt God lay on their heart to establish it in association with a café, and this friend had a specific shop that she felt would be suitable. Unknown to my friend, one of the new partners in the Book shop, turned up at the Morning Prayer meeting and said that they believed that God had shown her a suitable shop in Townsville at the right price. I immediately wondered if it was the same shop. It was, and opening up onto the same covered area was another small shop, suitable to be a café. While the latter has not been confirmed, the bookshop has begun trading.
Ted (not his real name)
Ted is only 9, but he is a hungry learner, full of questions. One night, after being in their new home, he saw a man at his window, shadowy and sinister. Scared, he went into his mum’s room and again saw the man. He talked to his mum who looked from many windows and all angles and could not see anyone. His mum asked me to talk to Ted, so we did. We talked about the power of Christ over evil men and evil spirits, and after prayer he was greatly relieved. He had slept fitfully several nights in his mum’s closet because of his fear. That night he slept peacefully in his own room and has done so since.
With a history of witchcraft and drugs, Marcelle came to us seeking help. God intervened and she gave her heart to the Lord. After a lot of spiritual battles, God graciously intervened again to break the power of her drug in just a moment. There were ongoing battles and her marriage and family were in serious trouble many times. She dropped out of church for a time, but in December she began to return, at the time when God had laid on my heart the breakthrough prayer from Daniel. That was greatly encouraging.
Marcelle skyped her mum in another Brazil daily, but was concerned at the negativity that spewed forth, since her mum had also been involved in witchcraft. Shortly after the Daniel Prayer challenge began Marcelle felt to share some Scriptures with her mum. This time she didn’t shut her off, but listened, and shortly gave her heart to Christ. A couple, friends of the mum, also gave their hearts to the Lord. Battles followed, and God has been sustaining them. Another friend of the mum, who shared the same background, but refused to receive Christ, suddenly committed suicide. The Lord is continuing to sustain them.
Several Sundays back, Marcelle was listening to a message where the equipping gifts were being described and later said that she found her heart burning within her as she recognised some of these gifts and believed that God was calling her into the ministry. Pray for Marcelle and this calling to unfold in God’s time and manner. God has been doing some other wonderful things in her family.
God is raising up people in new ways in our church. There are some who have moved out with a clear sense of mission. Others have gained a voice and have prayed openly in ways and with conviction that I have not seen before. Another has been willing to step up to lead a bible study. Another with addiction issues has been clean for over 10 weeks.
There has also been a generous spirit towards the chapel stage project.
WHAT HAS IT DONE FOR ME?
I have been convicted of several things which God has called me to change. Change is not easy when it confronts long-term behaviours. But God’s power is great to those who cooperate.
It has been pretty hard and demanding on our family, and I have struggled to find balance in it all. I am humbled by the partnership that they have in this with me.
I have not been inclined to join combined church activities in the past let alone lead such. I appreciate your prayer to have wisdom and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to know what part He wants for me and courage to step out in obedience. God has certainly put a strong love in my heart for these brothers and sisters in Christ, and I love praying with them. I cherish my Methodist / Wesleyan heritage, and am also grateful for the fellowship and prayers of believers with a different heritage.
I am humbled by how little I really know about living in prayer. I have a greater hunger to be in God’s presence. I am humbled at how God is working in others. I am grateful for His stirring.
And this is just the beginning.