Angels and demons exist. I’ll admit that even though I believe that, I tend to downplay their reality. Daniel 10, however, offers us a glimpse of spiritual warfare that helps us glean some insights into their activity and their real-life impact.
Daniel experiences a vision and then prays and fasts, asking God to help him understand it. Three weeks later, an angel appears to him and says:
O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.... Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future. (Dan. 10:11–14)
The angel explains to Daniel that God heard his prayer, sent a heavenly spirit (the angel who’s talking to him now) in response to Daniel’s prayer, but the angel was held up because of “the prince of the kingdom of Persia.” The angel couldn’t get to Daniel because a spiritual being who opposes God’s kingdom (presumably a demon) fought this angel and prevented him from getting to Daniel earlier. He explains that he was able to come only because another angel, Michael, was able to help him fend off the demon. This angel was answering Daniel on God’s behalf and was now headed back to fight the demons.
Wow! This is scary stuff. Spiritual warfare is real. There seems to be at least four upshots to this passage.
- Prayers are heard, effective, and answered. Daniel prayed, God heard him, and an angel was deployed to address Daniel’s request. Our prayers aren’t just hitting the ceiling.
- Demonic forces exist and can have real-world impact in our lives.
- Some evil spirits are assigned to certain territories. The prince of the kingdom of Persia was presumably responsible for darkening the minds of that region.
- Answered prayer isn’t necessarily going to be on our timeline. Spiritual forces and/or warfare can impede the response.
I’m not necessarily saying we should look for a demon behind every incident that doesn’t go our way, but perhaps we’re underestimating the influence of the kingdom of darkness. In my recent interview of Tim Muehlhoff about his book on spiritual warfare, we explored some of the practical implications of spiritual warfare and its impact in our lives, especially as they pertain to apologetics. I, for one, want to be more vigilant about considering the impact of spiritual warfare in my life.