“While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, ‘O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 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. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision'” (Daniel 9:20-23).
Consider the context of this passage. Daniel was agonizing in prayer before the Lord, repenting of his sins and confessing the sins of his people (Israel). He was pleading before God for forgiveness and mercy. He was begging for divine help. And then – an angel appears. Not just any angel, but Gabriel, the chosen messenger of God, whose appearance in any given situation signifies the utter involvement of God in His creatures’ lives. And what message does Gabriel have for Daniel? Read that part again: “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 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.”
Wow! What a thing to have said about you, that you are “greatly loved” – and by the context, we can tell that the love spoken of is from God. He loved Daniel, not just with an ordinary love, but with a great love! And because of that great love, He began to answer Daniel’s prayer from the very first words that Daniel uttered (see vs. 1-19 for Daniel’s prayer).
And guess what? God loves you and me the very same way He loved Daniel! He greatly loves us – and if our lives are pure in His sight, He will begin to answer our prayers from the very first words we utter before Him, just as He did for Daniel. True, we may not be visited by an angel (or at least not by Gabriel), but God has other ways of responding to our prayers. For instance, have you ever been communing with God about something, and all of a sudden a verse or passage from Scripture comes to mind, one that deals perfectly with whatever situation you’re facing? Have you ever been discouraged and praying for divine intervention, and a friend comes along with “just the right words” to help you re-focus on God?
The message that God sent through Gabriel was to provide Daniel with “insight and understanding.” It may not have been what he wanted to hear. But it was what God wanted him to hear. It was a direct response to Daniel’s pleas for heavenly intervention. And it was sent out of abounding, overwhelming love.
Remember that the next time you find yourself crying for God’s help in a situation or pleading for encouragement, and God sends a Scripture verse to mind or prods a friend to share something helpful with you. It is a sign that you are greatly loved of God. He hears our prayers, our pleas for help and guidance, our petitions for mercy. He may or may not give us what we want (that’s a post for another day), but if we are focused on Him and our hearts are pure in His sight, He will respond to our entreaties by bringing the words of Scripture – the words from Himself – to our minds and comforting our hearts with His promises.