The work to rebuild Jerusalem was at a stalemate as the enemies of God’s people tried to convince Cyrus to rescind his order to rebuild the city. Daniel prayed again for his people; specifically, that the king of Persia would be persuaded to hold fast his decision in favor of the Jews. Daniel continued to pray in sackcloth and ashes for 21 days with no response. Then the angel Gabriel gave the reason for his delay. The king was resisting being persuaded, and Gabriel needed backup; Michael was called, and the king was persuaded to cast his lot with the people of God.

When we pray and do not receive an immediate response, Daniel 10 reminds us of the invisible reality of an angelic war, or the great controversy, that is waging around us, though not always apparent. Waiting involves a “temporary stop.” It is a time when we feel like things are on hold. It’s when we feel like things are at a standstill and nothing is happening. Yet in reality, it is a time that God has already factored as critical to our Christian journey.

Some of the greatest figures in the Bible—Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David—had to wait and be in a holding pattern for not three weeks, but for years, and in some cases decades. Those days and sometimes years of waiting were priceless for developing the character of these great men of the Bible.

Waiting time is not lost time. Waiting on God is a time during which character is developed. It is a time when our faith is tested and strengthened. It is a time that we learn to trust and depend on God. “Something actually happens while nothing is happening. God uses waiting to change us” (Jade Mazarin, “God Is Working in Your Waiting,” desiringGod, Feb. 20, 2017, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-is-working-in-your-waiting).