Daniel testified, "Behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands" (Daniel 10:10). The word for "touched" here means to violently seize upon. Daniel was saying, "When God placed his hand on me, it put me on my face. His touch gave me an urgency to seek him with all that's in me."
This happens anytime God touches someone's life. That person falls to his knees. And he becomes a man or woman of prayer, driven to seek the Lord.
I've often wondered why God touches only certain people with this urgency. Why do some servants become hungry seekers after him, while other faithful people go their way? God-touched servants have an intimate relationship with the Lord. They receive revelations from heaven. And they enjoy a walk with Christ that few others do.
I think of Daniel. This devoted servant was touched by God in a supernatural way. Now, there were many other good, pious people serving the Lord in Daniel's day. These included Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, as well as Baruch, a scribe from Jerusalem. Scores of other Israelites maintained their faith as well while enslaved in Babylon. Some 40,000 of them would return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.
So, why did God lay his hand on Daniel and touch him as he did? Why was this one man able to see and hear things no one else could? He declares, "I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision" (Daniel 10:7).
Here was the incredible vision Daniel saw: "In the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river... lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold...His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and feet like in color to polished brass" (10:4-6).
This was a vision of Christ himself, clear and vivid. In fact, it was the same vision given to John on the Isle of Patmos (see Revelation 1:13-15). Now God spoke to Daniel unmistakably, "like the voice of a multitude" (Daniel 10:6). This wasn't a peep or a whisper, but the thunderous sound of a roaring tumult.
The Lord revealed himself to Daniel this way for a specific reason: he wanted to end the long famine of his Word. He decided the time had come to deliver a message to lost humanity. And he wanted his servants to know what he was about to do and why: "To make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days" (10:14).
But God needed a voice to speak his message. He wanted a praying servant, someone who would respond faithfully to his calling. Daniel was that man. He'd been praying devoutly three times a day. And now, as he walked along the river, Christ revealed himself to him. Daniel was shattered by the experience. He says, "A great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me...Yet I heard the voice of his words" (10:7-9).
Scripture doesn't identify the men who were with Daniel. They might have been Babylonian guards or government officials. After all, Daniel occupied a high office in the kingdom. In my opinion, these men were Israelites, specifically Daniel's pious friends and associates. Yet, if that's so, why did they flee? Daniel says they saw and heard nothing. Why would they be compelled to hide?
Here's why: God was in the process of possessing Daniel. He was preparing his servant, body and soul, to receive a word from heaven. And that's always an awesome sight. Whenever God touches one of his praying servants, he manifests himself in that human vessel. First he strips him of all self, and then he totally possesses him.
The sight of this process can strike fear in flesh-bound Christians. It either causes their hidden sin to melt, or it prompts them to flee the scene. I remember such a stirring in my own life, several years ago, before our ministry moved to New York. My wife, Gwen, and I were sitting on our patio in Texas with some other Christian couples. Suddenly, God's Spirit gripped me, and I fell on my face.
The Lord began to speak to my heart about lost souls. Soon I was weeping and prophesying. I felt as if I were in God's very presence, removed from this world. His Spirit was moving on me, calling me, giving me a vision for ministry. I don't know how long I was in that state. All I know is, during this time our visitors excused themselves and left. Something about the scene had frightened them away.
I've often wondered: is such a supernatural touch of God simply a matter of predetermination? Are those who receive his touch chosen and elected for it before they're even born? Is it merely their destiny to be dedicated to prayer, possessed by the Holy Spirit, given words from God's throne?
I ask these questions because of an unexplainable, God-given hunger in my soul. My inner man yearns for a revelation of Christ. Something in me simply won't settle for another person's revelation. Why? I'm convinced God has a particular word he wants to speak to this generation. And right now, he's searching the earth for servants he can possess. He wants men and women who'll serve as his oracles to a lost world. Only his powerful, anointed Word can combat the rising spirit of Islam. And only his truth can deal a deathblow to the hypocrisy in his own church.
How quickly the world has changed. After the Twin Towers fell in New York City, church attendance surged. People flocked back to their churches for the first time in years. Suddenly, God became popular again. The mention of his name marked every sporting event, every government session, every civic gathering. It seemed the whole nation was saying prayers and talking about God.
Today, however, church attendance is lower than before the September 11 disaster. A recent national poll quoted people as saying, "Church was such an unpleasant experience, I never went back." "There was nothing happening there. It wasn't worth my time." "Not one thing there made me want to go back."
How could this be? It happened because the church has lost its spiritual authority. Most of the sermons those people heard were dead, lifeless. They revealed the church in its present state: weak and devoid of the true character of God. Now people have turned a deaf ear to the gospel. Young people especially are rejecting the church, saying it's irrelevant. They want nothing to do with an institution that's a laughingstock in the world's eyes.
But God is about to change all this. Even now the Lord is raising up men and women who are God-touched and Spirit-possessed. He's going to set these servants on fire with his truth. And his touch on their lives will cause the whole world to take notice.
A pure word is about to come forth from heaven once more. It will expose hypocrisy and demonic lies. Islam will be revealed as having satanic origins. And all that's of flesh - self-interest, materialism, lust - will be brought into the blazing light of God's Word. Convicting truth will be preached from the lips of a new generation of God-seekers, people who have set their hearts wholly on Christ
The Lord touches every servant who is faithful in prayer. He seeks out those who are willing to discipline themselves in order to hear his voice. The Bible calls this attitude "setting the heart." Daniel writes, "I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes" (Daniel 9:3).
Daniel then tells us, "Whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God...the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation" (9:20-21). In short, Daniel is saying, "God touched me while I was seeking him in intense prayer."
Daniel makes it clear: he didn't get his understanding of God's Word by studying under learned men. He didn't gain his knowledge of future events from Babylon's institutions. Nobody could teach him how to interpret dreams that were supernaturally given. Daniel declares, "Whiles I was speaking in prayer...he informed me...and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding" (9:21-22).
Simply put, Daniel's prayers brought forth a Word from God's throne. "Then he said unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words...Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days" (10:12, 14).
What kind of praying had Daniel been doing to prompt such a visitation? Scripture tells us he'd spent three weeks in utter brokenness: "In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled" (10:2-3).
Daniel had spent twenty-one days humbling himself, mourning on his knees, chastening his flesh, setting his heart to receive divine understanding. He didn't time his prayer sessions by a clock. He was making a declaration of war: "Lord, I won't leave your presence until I discern what you're doing. I don't care what cost I have to pay."
Right now, God's people need a word from heaven as never before. Never in history have so many multitudes been left weary and sick from dead, dry sermons. The godly are literally crying out for a convicting, life-changing word. But the majority of pulpits are occupied by men with no spiritual authority. These prayerless shepherds are bewildered by the times, unable to bring understanding and hope to fearful congregations.
Something else happened to Daniel while he prayed. He was brought to the end of his fleshly speaking abilities. The Lord now touched Daniel's lips so he could speak as his oracle. He told his servant, "I have sanctified your tongue. Now I'm going to speak through you."
Anyone who speaks for God must have his tongue purged and purified. The Bible gives us example after example:
These men's experiences are examples to us all: God is searching for people who will take time to be shut in with him, who will seek him regularly and wait in his presence. Like dedicated Olympic athletes, such servants will spend hours in their discipline, for weeks or months at a time.
You may say, "I can't spend hours a day praying. I have obligations like anyone else." Let me point out that Daniel was a very busy man. As a prominent government official, he had incredible demands on his time. Yet Daniel set his heart to seek the Lord. And he made quality time daily - three times a day, in fact - to pray. God answered him with an astonishing vision: "I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward, I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it" (Daniel 8:27). Even in sickness, or during his daily business, Daniel sought the Lord.
God is looking for the same kind of desperation among his shepherds today. He's seeking pastors who are tired of merely preaching sermons, struggling for some new message, and having little impact on people. He wants preachers who would rather die and be with Jesus than go on in dryness. These hungry ministers cry, "Oh, God, put your fire in my soul. Break me, melt me, revolutionize my life. I can't go on in this present routine. I need your touch. I want to serve as an oracle for you, to speak to your people." That's the heart-cry of the servant God touches.
There are many godly people today who spend hours in intercession. These blessed servants walk by faith with great conviction. Yet many of them don't grieve over the sins of our nation or the deadness in God's house. I'm not suggesting Christians are supposed to mope around with long faces. But there is a heart-attitude in even the most joyous believer that causes him to mourn over the lukewarm condition of the church and the moral decline in our nation.
We see this in Daniel's life. Apparently, Daniel was one in his society who grieved with God's heart. At the time, Daniel was receiving visions in the middle of the night. He was miraculously delivered from a lion's den. The Lord was blessing and prospering this man tremendously. Yet, all that time, Daniel never put out of mind the grievous things God was showing him about Israel: "I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me" (Daniel 7:15).
Here was a man who went to sleep with the Lord on his mind. His thoughts weren't brimming with some business idea or sensual images. Daniel sought the Lord continually, making supplication. And now heaven was opened to him, with visions of the future. Daniel was moving in an awesome, prophetic realm, because he'd chosen to grieve with God.
Now the Lord revealed to Daniel his plan. He was about to pluck up every evil thing and cast it down. He would stomp on wicked nations and destroy them. Judgment Day was near, and time was running out. The King was coming, and the books would soon be opened. Yet, amazingly, God's people were fast asleep, oblivious to it all.
So Daniel mourned over the deadness and depravity in God's house. He testifies, "These divine words, these visions of the future, troubled me. They stirred my soul, and caused me to mourn and grieve" (see Daniel 9).
I see a similar scene in God's house today. Ministers and churches have closed their ears to prophetic warnings. They refuse to hear or speak anything negative. In their minds, it's time to simply enjoy life. Yet many of these same people once experienced miracles. They prayed their lost loved ones into the kingdom. They grieved over the moral landslide in society, and looked eagerly for Christ's coming. But now they have their own agenda. They won't spend one ounce of energy grieving with God over a dying nation and a lukewarm church. As Scripture says, "They are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph" (Amos 6:6).
Daniel received God's touch because he was willing to grieve with the Lord. He prayed, "Lord, what's going on? I have to understand these times. Show me, so I can warn your people." He didn't care if he was mocked. He was consumed with a zeal to know God's heart. And he openly confessed his sin.
"I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments" (Daniel 9:4-5).
Here is another mark of someone after God's heart: he identifies himself with the church's sins. This servant cries out for holiness, both in himself and in God's people. A church can call for prayer meetings regularly, but without purity, prayer is absolutely powerless. The message that God wants to speak to his people must come from lips that have been purged.
I challenge every pastor, every teacher, every lay person: get desperate for God's touch. Stay in communion with him. Fast along with your intercession. And allow the Holy Spirit to examine your heart. He'll expose every wicked, rebellious, sinful thing hidden in you. And he'll deal with you about every area of disobedience.
Soon, you'll no longer tolerate hypocrisy or compromise in yourself. Your prayers will turn into cries for holiness. Then, whenever you see sin in God's house, you'll cry, "Oh, Lord, we have sinned against you." That's how you'll know God has touched you. He has begun his divine work of changing you, anointing you afresh, and preparing you for a greater work.
You've heard of the US Army's Special Forces. This is a highly trained army-within-an-army, an elite unit of dedicated soldiers. Special Forces are made up completely of volunteers, fighters who have been noticed and called out by their superiors. If they're willing to join, they face the most arduous training anyone could endure.
Before the war in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden had said American soldiers were weak, cowardly, not trained for mountain warfare. He predicted the Taliban would send US troops home in shame, the same way it had defeated the Russian army. But bin Laden hadn't counted on America's Special Forces. This fearless unit invaded Afghanistan with a mere 2,000 soldiers. Within days, it had located all the enemy's strongholds. Suddenly, bin Laden's soldiers trembled at the sight of these disciplined forces approaching. In a matter of weeks, the Taliban were conquered.
Terrorists worldwide now quake in fear at the approach of America's Special Forces. They know even a small unit can topple an entire nation. US Special Forces have already arrived in the Philippines, Indonesia and other countries where terrorists train. They've become terrorism's most feared enemy.
I believe God is doing something similar in the spiritual realm. While in prayer, I was impressed by the Holy Spirit with an extraordinary vision: God has been at work in the heavenlies on a covert operation. He's raising up an army-within-an army, searching his regular troops to form an elite unit of volunteers. This special force is made up of warriors he can touch and stir, to do battle with the enemy. We see a picture of this in Scripture, with Sail's special militia. The Bible tells us, "There went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched" (1 Samuel 10:26).
God's special forces today include the young, the middle-aged, even the elderly. They've been training in their secret closets of prayer. Many have endured pain and suffering almost beyond human limits. And they've come forth purged and purified. Their intimacy with Jesus through it all has taught them how to fight. Now they know how to do battle on any spiritual plane, whether in mountains and in valleys.
These special forces have won many victories through prayer. And now they're feared in hell. Soon, all over the world, especially in Islamic nations, God's highly trained forces will do battle with these evil forces. Our God doesn't need million-man armies. His special forces are small in number, but they're mighty in battle. One prayerful, obedient member of this unit can put a thousand enemy soldiers to chase. As God promised Joshua's small, cleaving army, "No man hath been able to stand before you unto this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you" (Joshua 23:9-10).
Our battlefield isn't in Afghanistan, the Philippines or Indonesia. The battle taking place is in the church. Right now, God is releasing his special forces into his house. And their weapons are prayer, purity, and a word straight from his throne. These soldiers' lips have been touched with coals from God's altar. Their tongues have been purged of all defilement. And they're fearless in exposing all that's of flesh. They are lions of prayer, yet lambs in their humility. And the word they preach is profound in truth, purity and integrity.
I've heard the preaching of many soldiers in these special forces. Some are young, having learned Christ quickly. They preach his Word boldly, both in the church and to the unsaved. Other soldiers are middle-aged ministers who've grown weary of the church's lukewarmness. The Holy Spirit has touched them with his fire, raising them up with renewed zeal. Now they're ready to show a new generation how to fight. These men do battle in their prayer closets, waiting on their captain, Jesus. And they emerge with a fresh word from heaven. They speak lovingly, but with authority. And they're not afraid to show people their sins.
For years now, Satan has terrorized God's people. He has torn down the towers of large ministries, well-known preachers, holy standards. But God wasn't surprised by any of it. All along, he's been training his special forces. And he's about to unleash them within his church. This elite unit crumbled the Iron Curtain in eastern Europe. It toppled Communism. And right now it's tearing down the Bamboo Curtain in Asia.
God's army-within-an-army is in place in every nation. Its activity may be covert now, but soon we'll see it doing exploits in the name and power of Christ. God's Word is coming forth, and the famine is ending. The Lord will prevail. His Word shall conquer all.