Summary: If you want to break through “the wall” and reach heaven on your knees, then humble yourself before God; persist in your prayers; and listen to God more than you speak to Him.
A journalist assigned to the Jerusalem bureau takes an apartment overlooking the Wailing Wall. Every day when she looks out, she sees an old Jewish man praying vigorously. So, the journalist goes down and introduces herself to the old man.
She asks, “You come every day to the wall. How long have you done that, and what are you praying for?”
The old man replies, “I have come here to pray every day for 25 years. In the morning I pray for world peace and then for the brotherhood of man. I go home, have a cup of tea, and I come back and pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth.”
The journalist is amazed. “How does it make you feel to come here every day for 25 years and pray for these things?” she asks.
The old man looks at her sadly. “Like I'm talking to a wall.” (“Wailing Wall,” Religious Joke of the Day, beliefnet.com, 4-25-03; www.PreachingToday.com)
How often do people feel like they’re talking to a wall when they pray? They pray for something over and over, and nothing seems to happen. Then they begin to wonder if it isn’t all a waste of time.
If that’s been your experience, you might be encouraged by what happened to the prophet, Daniel, in the Old Testament. He prayed desperately for three weeks, and nothing happened. Then all of a sudden an answer came that laid him flat on the ground.
Daniel 10:1-3 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. (NIV)
Daniel is in mourning. He’s eating bread and water, and he hasn’t put on any cologne for three weeks.
Daniel has just received a revelation about a “great war”, and his people, the Jews, are in rough shape. Two years before this, some of the Jewish exiles had returned to Jerusalem, and they are not doing well at all. The city is in ruins. Work on restoring the temple has stopped, and the surrounding nations are trying to get rid of them.
It was not the homecoming they expected. They had left Babylon with great expectation, but their hopes were dashed against the harsh realities of trying to rebuild their lives from scratch in hostile territory.
Daniel did not go with them. It had been 72 years since he was kidnapped from Jerusalem and taken to Babylon as a teenager. At this point, he is in his late 80’s to early 90’s, do it didn’t make sense for him to return with the exiles. But he is concerned about their plight. The Jews are struggling with the prospect of war on the horizon, so Daniel goes into mourning for three weeks. Then he sees a “man,” or something that looks like a man.