Some people find vision daunting. Remember Charles Templeton, former evangelist, and coworker with Billy Graham? He lost his faith as a result of a disturbing vision. Interviewing Templeton for his book, The Case for Faith, Author Lee Strobel explains, “(Templeton’s) retreat from faith began with that Life magazine photo of the African mother holding her child who had died because of a simple lack of rain.” Because of this and other observed tragedies, Templeton concluded, “there cannot be a loving God”. His vision caused his faith to disintegrate.
Like Templeton, Daniel found vision daunting too. Yet vision was the very foundation of his prayer life. Esteemed highly by God for his emphasis on setting his mind to understand God’s ways, Daniel was rewarded with a formidable vision of Christ and of the future. Listen to how Daniel describes it.
“I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision…so I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless.” And later, “I said to the one standing before me, ‘I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I am helpless…my strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.’” As a result of his request, a heavenly messenger strengthened Daniel with words imbuing strength and peace. The vision became manageable, not only to Daniel, but also to generations of believers who have appreciated the prophetic revelations transcribed by Daniel.
What is the difference? Why did vision sidetrack Templeton’s faith but reinforce Daniel’s? Perhaps the answer is found in the comment made by the seraphic messenger in Daniel 10:12. He observed that Daniel’s prayers were heard as a result of him humbling himself before God. Vision plus prayerful humility equals expanding faith. Vision paired with arrogance results in diminishing faith.
How do we make this truth applicable for our prayer lives? Firstly, as we enter into prayer with the Almighty One, we need humility; we must realize that there are some things we will never understand about Him. Sometimes he will reveal things to us through His Word or His Spirit that we can understand, but sometimes we will be daunted. We might be overcome with anguish, feel like our strength is being sapped, and lose our breath. His ways are not always our ways. Submit to that truth. He will reveal what is necessary as He sees fit. Trust Him for that.
Secondly, prayer-sustaining vision is granted to those who set their minds to gain understanding. It may not be so much a vision of heavenly messengers as of God’s planet earth project, God’s kingdom coming among mankind. To gain insight into God’s ways takes deliberate choice. It takes effort, spiritual effort, mental effort and physical effort. It takes Scripture-focused prayer, meditation on what God has said in order to dialogue appropriately with Him. The resulting worldview of honouring God becomes the foundation of our vision.
And finally, visionary prayers must be powered by divine strength. It is unthinkable that we could muster the drive, the passion, the energy to lever God into action. It must go the other way around. It is God’s Spirit who indwells and energizes the praying man, woman and child enabling them to envision His heart for the world.
With humility, with effort, and with the Spirit’s empowerment our vision for God’s presence becomes integral to a maturing prayer life. Rather than disintegrating, our faith will be given the opportunity for amazing growth. Any takers?