Have you ever prayed and asked God to do something for you, but it isn’t happening as quickly as you would like it to?
I have learned that delays are not necessarily denials. We don’t know what is going on in the supernatural realm. We don’t know what is going on behind the scenes on our behalf.
In the Old Testament there is a fascinating story about Daniel’s prayer being heard in heaven. An angel was dispatched with a special message but was engaged in combat with a demon power for 21 days (see Daniel 10).
The prayer of Daniel went to heaven, his prayer was heard, and an angel was dispatched with the answer. But the angel was unable to get through to Daniel because of this apparently higher-ranking demon power that stopped him.
In Ephesians 6 we are told, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (verse 12 NIV).
The Bible refers to Michael, the archangel. We know from the Scriptures that he plays a unique role in God’s plan and appears to be a high-ranking angel. Then we have Gabriel, who also must have been a high-ranking angel, sent with a specific message for Joseph and Mary concerning the arrival of the Messiah.
In fact, there are only three angels who are named in the Bible: Michael the archangel, Gabriel and Lucifer, who of course is a fallen angel.
In Daniel’s story, God dispatched Michael to help the angel who was being delayed by the demon power.
Then, in the New Testament, we find the story of the apostle Paul, who was on a ship in the midst of a storm. Men feared for their lives, but Paul reassured everyone they would be safe. An angel had appeared to him and said, “Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you” (Acts 27:24 NLT).
In Acts 12 there is another story of angelic activity, where Peter was in a horrible predicament. James had been arrested and put to death. Then Peter was arrested and certainly would be killed as well. He was chained up in a cell, surrounded by guards. There was no way of escape.
What did the church do in this dilemma? They prayed. All other doors remained closed, but one door remained open into the presence of God: the door of prayer. It has been said that Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saints upon their knees.
The church prayed, and God answered their prayer by dispatching an angel. In an almost comical situation, the angel appeared to Peter and struck him on the side as he slept. I don’t know whether this angel hit Peter or simply nudged him, but he woke Peter up. The two of them walked past the guards and out of the prison, where the gate opened automatically. Then the angel disappeared.
That’s so typical of angels. They don’t want to stand around and take credit. They’ve done what they were sent to do, and they simply disappear. Peter said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me” (Acts 12:11 NIV).
Also from Acts, we know that an angel appeared to Philip and directed him to the desert. There Philip met a government official who had come from a distant country, searching for God (see Acts 8:26).
The Bible says that angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” and “the angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 34:7 NIV).
Throughout the pages of Scripture, we see angels at work. Angels will be working mightily in the last days. And clearly, they are working in our lives as well.
One of the reasons we aren’t personally aware of angels in our lives is because they are doing their jobs properly. Angels are invisible. And they remain that way most of the time.
If we were able to roll away the veil that separates the physical from the spiritual and the natural from the supernatural, if we could get a behind-the-scenes look into the invisible world of angels and demons, we would be overwhelmed. On one hand, it would be frightening to see the demon powers that are clearly at work. But on the other hand, it would be a great blessing to see the angels that are working in our lives.
This very thing happened to the servant of the prophet Elisha, who was frightened by the armies that were closing in on them. But Elisha simply said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see” (2 Kings 6:17 NKJV).
In a moment, this servant had the privilege of peeking behind the supernatural veil and caught a rare glimpse into the invisible world. The Bible says that Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and he saw “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (verse 17). What he saw was the equivalent of an army, an angelic military force that was surrounding them.
We just don’t know how many times angels have delivered us, how many times they have rescued us from tight situations and how many times they have protected us from harm. As Billy Graham has pointed out, they are God’s secret agents. They do the bidding and work of God.