Bible Ballistics: Vol. 9 No.11 And Daniel Prayed!!!
“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” John 5:30
Prayer is our privilege of communication with God, and we often forget that prayer is “commun-ication” not a one-way “demand” central, where we put in our quarter, pull the handle, and expect the “jackpot” to come at our demand. Jesus taught us that we are to pray seeking the will of God—not our own way (“a way that seemeth right unto a man” …Prov. 16:25) Many today are using prayer as a pry-bar on God, to coerce Him into doing our will, yet Jesus reminds us of the nature of real prayer in the model prayer:
which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9b-10
Our praying is to be done in allegiance to our God, and in pursuit of “Thy kingdom” and “Thy will”, not “my” will and “my” kingdom to increase! We have become a culture of “me”, and it has crept ever so subtly into the church but we must return to a biblical perspective on prayer. Prayer isn’t our exercise in pulling the “fire” alarm for God to respond, but it should be our pursuit of God in all things. He has given us such a mighty privilege and we ought to utilize it in faith, submission and the power and purposes of God, unto HIS glory, and the increase of HIS kingdom—not our own!
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
We can “come boldly” before God’s throne, because Jesus is our advocate. And boldness isn’t ‘arrogance’, but rather a bold confidence in the sovereign, perfect provision of our God, and the understanding heart of our Lord Jesus who knows how we feel because He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”. Jesus knows where we are and what we need before we ask, but He says we are to come to Him confidently knowing that He has the answers to our needs. He will supply the grace, mercy and help for our need! And if you are like me that is an every day situation—in fact, on some days it’s a moment-by-moment exercise. But that is what prayer is—our everyday communion with our Father, and His Son Jesus, through the Holy Spirit!
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:25-27
Even the Holy Spirit of God seeks the Father’s will as He takes our prayers before the throne. Even when we can’t speak for ourselves, “he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”!!! Praise God, we have a faithful intercessor; in fact we have two intercessors!
“But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:24-25
“This man”, Jesus is also interceding for us. Oh how blessed we are. Why would we neglect to seek HIS face and to know what HE has for us? When will we stop being willful children demanding our own way, and seek the will of the One who loves us and knows what lies before us—always? When we tune into God and His will we will hear and see His answers to our prayers.
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe
on the name of the Son of God.
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him,
that, if we ask any thing
according to his will,
he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us,
whatsoever we ask,
we know that we have the petitions
that we desired of him.” 1 John 5:13-15
So it should ever be our heart’s desire to know and tune into the will of God. We are to stand in the gap for those around us, for a nation that needs our salt and light to hold back the darkness and corruption—and only God can do that!!! If we don’t pray and ‘stand in the gap’, who will?
“The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery,
and have vexed the poor and needy:
yea, they have oppressed the stranger
30 And I sought for a man among them,
that should make up the hedge,
and stand in the gap
for the land,
that I should not destroy it:
but I found none.
31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation
I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath:
their own way have I recompensed
upon their heads,
saith the Lord God.” Ezekiel 22:29-31
Will we “stand in the gap”, or watch our land fall prey to the sin, darkness and corruption that is rampant in our midst? Will we pray diligently before our God or see our nation reap the consequences of it’s own choices?
What about Daniel? Well, Daniel was a young man who had been taken captive from Jerusalem by the conquering Babylonians, taken to be trained (brain-washed so to speak) for service in the government of Nebuchadnezzar. He was a captive, He was far from home, he was young and yet, this young man chose to stand for His God in faithfulness and orderly submission to those over him. He knew the favor of God, but also the challenges of living in a sinful culture, yet he responded with faith and integrity in every situation that is recorded of him. In fact even his enemies in one of his encounters said this of him:
“Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. 4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” Daniel 6:3-5
Here we have 123 men who have been set over the kingdom of the conquering Medo-Persians. And 122 of these men are jealous of Daniel, whom the king has perceived to be an outstanding official, one whom he intended to set over the 122 other ‘princes’! Here we find them plotting to have Daniel removed and of their own testimony, they “could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful”. They finally concluded that they could only trap him in regard to his faithful obedience to his God! What a testimony! But our focus today is on Daniel’s prayer life, the prayer life that he had faithfully cultivated for some 70 years—yes Daniel is pushing 80 or 90 by the time of the events in chapter six and his deliverance from the lions. But lions are for another day, today we delve into some of the prayers that this man prayed and see what we can learn and apply to our own prayer life. The key to the whole book is found in the mindset of this young teenager who found himself in difficult straights.
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
This young man had made us his mind to be faithful before his God, that he would in no way defile ‘himself’ regardless of the defilement all around him (And consider that he had already been ceremonially defiled by the Babylonians anyway!)! And we find in this entire book an integrity and respect that reflected Daniel’s submission to God’s will for him personally. He never behaved with disrespect or arrogance, but boldly pursued holiness in his personal life, and because of this pursuit of personal holiness before God, God was faithful to work on his behalf, and was seen in all that Daniel accomplished. Let’s dive in.
“Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: 18 That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision.” Daniel 2:17-19
Here Daniel is in peril of his life due to the erratic temper of the king, yet he went to his three friends and they sought the face of God for wisdom to answer the king, and to spare not only their own lives, but the lives of the ‘pagans’ they worked with! Ever been there? Well, God heard and answered this prayer and revealed to Daniel one of the great prophecies of all scripture to a pagan king, and HE spared HIS children while HE was at it! But then we see a key to Daniel’s prayer life—not only his faith in his God, but his attitude of gratitude to the God who heard and answered his prayers. What about you and I? Do we remember as quickly to praise and thank Him, as we remember to “ask”? Oh dear Father, create in me a heart of gratitude and a life that acknowledges you in all things!
“Daniel answered and said,
Blessed be the name of God
for ever and ever:
for wisdom and might are his:
21 And he changeth the times
and the seasons:
he removeth kings,
and setteth up kings:
he giveth wisdom
unto the wise,
and knowledge to them
that know understanding:
22 He revealeth the deep
and secret things:
he knoweth what is in the darkness,
and the light dwelleth with him.
23 I thank thee,
and praise thee,
O thou God of my fathers,
who hast given me wisdom and might,
and hast made known unto me
what we desired of thee:
for thou hast now made known unto us
the king’s matter.” Daniel 2:20-23
What a mighty God we serve! And He hasn’t changed one bit. The same God hears and answers our prayers as heard and answered Daniel. Remember, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) We just need to keep our hearts as pure and focused on God as Daniel did. And remember he was a man in great authority in the government and couldn’t spend all of his time in singular prayer, but I am convinced by all that I read in the book of Daniel, that his whole life was devoted to living faithfully before God, and he was in tune with God throughout his daily work routine! How about you and me? Are we living a life focused on God, or is He simply the “fire extinguisher” that we pull out when those “big” fires flare up? I believe Daniel’s life displays for us what Paul was talking about to the Thessalonians (and if you check it out, what he practiced himself, see Ro. 1:9 & 2 Tim. 1:3, also check out Acts 12:5 for that same phrase!).
“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Now Paul wasn’t calling us to spend our days on our knees, or to work with our eyes closed, and surely not to drive with them closed; but he was calling us to be focused, open and sensitive to the things that God speaks to our hearts throughout our day. When God brings someone or some need to your heart and mind, that’s not a ‘co-incidence’—it’s a ‘God-incidence’!!! Pray for that person, no matter where you are—you don’t have to fall to your knees to be fervent in prayer—but God hears and knows the pleadings of our heart when we are in the midst of a crowd of unbelievers, or driving down the interstate, or cooking dinner, or changing a diaper! God wants our hearts to be in tune with Him and what HE is prompting us to ‘stand in the gap’ for.
Another aspect of Daniel’s prayer life is that he identified with those around him. While Daniel lived a holy life in an unholy place, he identified with and humbled himself to share the burden of the sin of his people. Folks, we must live holy lives before the lost and dying world around us, but we must not loose sight of the fact that we are a part of the corporate problems that plague our nation—regardless of where we live.
“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3 And I set my face unto the Lord God,
to seek by prayer
4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God,
and made my confession,
the great and dreadful God,
keeping the covenant and mercy
that love him,
and to them
that keep his commandments;
5 We have sinned,
and have committed iniquity,
and have done wickedly,
and have rebelled,
even by departing from thy precepts
and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened
unto thy servants the prophets,
which spake in thy name
to our kings,
and our fathers,
and to all the people
of the land.” Daniel 9:2-6
Can you see the heart of this man? He wasn’t lifting himself above the sins of his people, he was identifying with them and their problems; he was owning the need of his people, even though he himself had remained faithful to God. What about you and me? Are we faithful to identify with the sin and failure of our people? Or are we among those who cast rocks and speak with animosity toward those who reject Jesus? (I’m not talking about approving of or condoning sin, I am talking about compassionate identification with the failure of people to hear, acknowledge and follow God faithfully and biblically!) Do we truly care about the lost souls of man, and the judgment that is coming? Or do we simply care about ‘Me and my four and no more’? Or, as my husband would put it, do we ‘Get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can!”? Oh my friends, it’s time to get busy standing “in the gap” at our Lord’s beckoning for the salvation and deliverance of those around us.
There is so much more to plumb in the depths of this great book of scripture, but due to time and space limitations, I would like to share one other part of Daniel’s prayer life. The part where God said ‘enough’ for now, because so many of us don’t deal well with that part of our relationship with God. We love to praise Him when He answers according to what we desire, but when His answer comes in a different direction we often don’t respond well. But even Daniel, this great servant of God, this great man of power who received some of the greatest prophetic revelations in scripture, didn’t always understand or hear a yes from God.
“And I heard, but I understood not:
then said I,
O my Lord,
what shall be the end of these things?
9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel:
for the words are closed up
and sealed till the time of the end.
10 Many shall be purified,
and made white,
but the wicked shall do wickedly:
and none of the wicked
but the wise shall understand.
11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
13 But go thou thy way till the end be:
for thou shalt rest,
and stand in thy lot
at the end of the days.” Daniel 12:8-13
Here we find that Daniel asked one last bit of understanding about the vision that he received in chapters 10-12, but this time God said ‘no’. God told Daniel that he wouldn’t understand this and that it would be “sealed till the time of the end”! God also told Daniel that he was to continue until the time of his death, and that he would receive his reward at the end!
Jesus told us we are to ask, seek and knock but sometimes the answer will come in some way that we can’t see or understand, and that is when real faith steps up and just keeps on keeping on until God reveals something to us or redirects our steps. Daniel was near the end of his life and God used him mightily to reveal HIS plan to us, yet even Daniel had his times and seasons. Real prayer is seeking God’s face in all things, and resting in HIS answers!
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
Jesus said that we are to ask, seek and knock, and we will have a response. What HE didn’t say is that we’ll always get the answer immediately when we ask, or find the object we are seeking when we expect to, or that the door will be opened when we desire—but He did say that God hears and answers in accordance with HIS will, in His way and in His time—after all we are truly to be asking, seeking, and knocking for “Thy will be done” on earth, as it is in heaven. Let’s be diligent as we ask for God’s direction, seek His face in all we do, and knock at the door until He opens it or redirects our pursuits. May it ever be said of us “He/She prayed”! “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”