What happens after 21 Days of Prayer?

”Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.“ Matthew 4:1-2

When you compare what happened after Daniel’s 21 days of fasting and prayer and Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and prayer, you'll find some important similarities that can give us insight as we’ve come to the close of our 21 Days of Prayer movement. First, both Daniel and Jesus set aside extended time for prayer with a specific purpose in mind (Matthew 4; Daniel 10). In addition to cultivating intimacy with God, both no doubt were praying about the redemptive plans of God.

After praying for 3 weeks, a divine being came to Daniel and said, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia” (Daniel 10:12-13).

Notice that the angel, who was dispatched to give Daniel understanding of what was to come for his people, reveals that he was delayed by resistance from the prince of the kingdom of Persia. The prince of Persia here is a reference to a demon that was influencing the rulers of the Kingdom of Persia. Interestingly, this demon delayed the angel sent to Daniel for 21 days, which was about the same amount of time that Daniel was fasting and praying.

It's been said, God’s delays are not always His denials. Persevere in prayer. More is happening than you even realize. Moreover, as Daniel was praying, the angel was joined by Michael, one of the chief princes, who came to help him. Daniel Henderson often says, “When a church gets serious about prayer, we pick a fight with the devil at a whole new level.” I would also add that when we get serious about prayer and our prayers are in tune with the purposes of God, they can provoke a fight between angels and demons.
Regarding spiritual warfare in the unseen realm, one commentator writes: “Several years ago it was popular to talk about 'territorial spirits,' demons assigned to particular regions, governments, and institutions. Peter Wagner of Fuller Seminary wrote a book titled Engaging the enemy: How to fight and defeat territorial Spirits (Regal, 1991). While some have run the risk of preoccupation and speculation about angels and demons, we play the fool if we make light of or ignore the spiritual reality. Daniel 10 makes clear that (1) angels and demons exist. (2) angels and demons engage one another in spiritual combat, (3) certain demons, and probably certain angels are given particular geographical and governmental assignments, and (4) our prayers in some genuine measure enter into and affect the battles being fought.”

After being strengthened in the love of God (Daniel 10:11), the Angel continued with his revelation to Daniel: “Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince” (Daniel 10:20-21).

Together with the assistance of Michael and the persistent prayers of Daniel, the angel reaches Daniel to fulfill his assignment of giving him insight into what was to come for the people of God. Before he departs for his next divine assignment, he informs Daniel that he is going to give him further understanding about what is written in the book of truth. Similarly, as Daniel did, to grow in our capacity to understand and obey God’s truth we must cultivate intimacy with God in prayer and seek His guidance and power to carry out His plans.
Notice also that after Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days, Jesus himself experienced satanic opposition. We don’t know exactly what Jesus prayed about in the wilderness, but we do know that He was led there by the Spirit before the start of His public ministry. And we can be sure that in addition to enjoying fellowship with His Father in the quiet of the wilderness, in His humanity He also sought guidance and encouragement in the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plans.
Concerning the opposition and temptations of Satan that came after Jesus' time in the wilderness, my friend Pastor Troy Keaton, whose church was also coming to the end of 21 Days of Prayer, wrote: “This seems a bit odd to me that after praying and not eating for more than a month for the purpose of knowing and doing the will of God, the result would be an hour of dark temptation. But that’s exactly what happens to Jesus. Jesus who was God in the flesh could have defeated Satan in that moment by simply destroying him with His divine power. Instead, Jesus overcame temptation as a man, and relied on the truth and power of scripture to defeat the enemy. In choosing to defeat Satan this way He shows you and me the pathway to victory over the enemy.” To learn more about how Jesus resisted the temptations of Satan, click here for a sermon on this passage.

“As we come to the close of this dedicated time of prayer and fasting, know this truth. Satan is going to fight. Perhaps he has already started. This happened to Jesus and is par for the course. In every case, the first thing Jesus does is quote scripture to the devil. ‘It is written’ is His automatic response to the lying voice of Satan. He is our example; showing us that the best way to confront the deception and lies of the enemy is to know and rely on the absolute truth of God’s word in the hour of temptation.” Keaton

It’s important to note also, that throughout Daniel’s life and the earthly ministry of Jesus, they set aside time to pray and seek the face of God. Daniel prayed three times a day. Despite all the needs around Him and people constantly seeking Him, Jesus regularly withdrew to a desolate place to pray.

What happens after 21 days of prayer for church leaders? We can expect that we picked a fight with demons in the unseen realm. But we can also trust that as we continue to pray, as we set aside time to seek the face of God through scripture-fed, Spirit-led, and worship-based prayer, we are assisting angels and they are assisting us in the carrying out of God’s redemptive plans. As we continue to prioritize prayer individually and corporately, we can trust that in 2024 and beyond, God will do "far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Persevere in prayer. More is happening than you even realize.
Pastor Marco