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Matthew 26:51-54
51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
52 Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?"

When the religious leaders came to arrest Jesus, Peter grabbed a sword in defense of his master,  not knowing that Jesus was more than able to defend Himself! Peter and many modern Christians in the West are unaware of the unseen realm in which we live our lives, which is truly more real than what we normally call reality. The Scriptures plainly speak of heavenly creatures constantly at work carrying out the purposes of God. They exist to minister to Christians (Hebrews 1:14), execute judgment (Acts 12:23), and even to answer the prayers of the saints (Daniel 10:12).

In the Daniel passage the angel makes plain that he has arrived to speak with Daniel in response to his fasting and prayers (Daniel 10:2,3). In Daniel 10:12 the angel says, "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." This is truly amazing, isn't it? The angel says that he has "come because of [Daniel's] words." Our words in prayer have great authority and power to literally set the angels of God in motion. Do you consider that truth as you bow your knees and speak to God? Do you know that angels are often literally set in motion by your prayers?

I have never seen an angel myself, but over the years I have met many who have interacted with them. My friends assure me that they are as awesome and beautiful as portrayed in the Scriptures. I think God allows some of his saints to see angels periodically (both in the Scriptures and in current times) to build our faith and remind us of the dynamism and significance of the unseen realm. The spiritual choices we make are real and have great consequence, which we need to remember.

Of course, God has purposes beyond our prayers and doesn't always send his angels to act when we ask for them. This is the significance of Matthew 26:54 where Jesus explains the higher purpose of fulfilling the Scriptures than having twelve legions of angels dispatched to help Him. As Christians we must keep in tension that, on the one hand, God hears our prayers and moves mightily in reaction them. On the other hand, God sometimes has purposes higher than we (or in this case, Peter) can fathom, and He will not always respond the way we like. Let the responsiveness and faithfulness of God motivate us to pray, and when God doesn't answer as we wish, let us remember that He has larger and better purposes in mind.

Blessings to you as we begin together this 40-day season of fasting and prayer! May He set the angels in motion in reaction to your humble requests of Him!

In Christ,

Matt Bennett
Christian Union