Prayer As Usual

Today’s Reading: Daniel 6; Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.
– Psalm 27:1-3

As we read on in chapter six of Daniel, God’s blessings on Daniel are met with opposition. Yesterday we described Daniel as more capable than others, faithful, always responsible and completely trustworthy. I guess it is no surprise that those around him reacted with jealousy and found pleasure in the possibility of seeing something go wrong in Daniel’s life. We see this reaction play out today on the job, within families and, sadly, the Church.

If you can ignore the fact that Daniel is in captivity, you can say that everything has gone right for Daniel. Let’s review: Daniel goes from being a Jewish captive to a member of the royal service to ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all King Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men. Under King Belshazzar’s reign, Daniel is made the third highest ruler in the kingdom and Darius the Mede then appointed Daniel as one of three administrators over all the high officers. Now Darius is making plans to place Daniel over the entire empire and the other administrators have had enough!

The plot to destroy Daniel strikes where they know it will affect him the most – worship of his God. They stroke the pride of King Darius and trick him into issuing a decree that no one can pray to any god except the King himself. Once more, someone placed in a leadership position and given authority allows pride to take over and makes a foolish decision based on his own wants and desires.

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down AS USUAL in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, JUST AS HE HAD ALWAYS DONE, giving thanks to his God. Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help (Daniel 6:10-11).

JUST AS HE HAD ALWAYS DONE, Daniel went to his knees to pray to his God for help. He was not praying because he was now in a difficult situation and needed rescuing; he prayed JUST AS HE HAD ALWAYS DONE, three times a day, giving thanks to his God.

“The lasting value of our public service for God is measured by the depth of the intimacy of our private times of fellowship and oneness with Him.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Daniel had faithfully developed a habit or life pattern of spending time in prayer, which is what made him the kind of man we have been studying. Spending time daily in God’s presence resulted in God’s presence dwelling daily within Daniel, giving him strength and wisdom. Today was no different. Daniel trusted in God, JUST AS HE HAD ALWAYS DONE.

As a result of his decree, King Darius had no choice but to follow through with the punishment as declared in the new law – Daniel would have to be thrown into the den of lions. We do not know how Daniel reacted to this but we know that the king was deeply troubled and spent the night fasting for his faithful servant, Daniel.

Was Daniel scared? Did he ask God “why?” Did he question his decision to pray JUST AS HE HAD ALWAYS DONE, with the windows wide open? I choose to believe that Daniel reacted the same way his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did. I choose to believe that Daniel trusted in God to save him but loved God enough to say, “But even if he doesn’t…”

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” – Daniel 3:16-18

The next morning, the king hurried to the lion’s den and called out, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?”

Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” – Daniel 6:20-22

As a result of Daniel’s faithfulness and his testimony of how God had rescued him from what man would consider an impossible situation, God was glorified and given the praise. I pray those around us can see that we serve God faithfully and that we trust in Him through all situations, good and bad. This kind of faithfulness starts in our quiet times with the Lord. It is in the intimate moments with God that He takes us deeper in our relationship with Him and draws us closer to Him, creating fellowship and oneness with Him.

“The lasting value of our public service for God is measured by the depth of the intimacy of our private times of fellowship and oneness with Him.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Chambers words convict me this morning, but they also inspire me. Oh how I long to go deeper.

Here me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
– Psalm 27:7-8

I have no idea what you are going through right now, but I pray that the depth of your daily private times of fellowship and oneness with God give you the strength of faith to trust in Him, believing that He can rescue you as He rescued Daniel, but also giving you the faith to say, “But even if He doesn’t…”.