Friday, August 31, 2012

Continual Prayer

10 But when Daniel learned that the law (decree) 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. 11 Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help.
Daniel 6:10-11 (NLT).

Daniel grew up during King Josiah’s spiritual reforms of Israel’s southern kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 22 and 23). After King Josiah’s death, Judah returned to committing sin and evil before God. Eventually, Judah was invaded by King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army and many of Judah’s wisest men and most beautiful women were taken captive. Daniel was part of those captives along with his friends, Hananiah (called Shadrach), Mishael (called Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego). Daniel and his friends assumed important positions while in Babylon.

Daniel was a wonderful example of faith, wisdom, and courage. Even while in Babylon, Daniel established a reputation for wisdom, integrity, and absolute confidence in God. Daniel worked hard and faithfully served several pagan kings, including Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus (see also Colossians 3:22-25). Moreover, Daniel ate carefully and lived prayerfully. He ate simple yet healthy meals of fruits, vegetables, and water and indulged in persistent prayer to God (Daniel 1:8–17). Daniel’s main lifestyle choices was a decision to continually pray and give thanks to God ─ three times a day since his “early days” (Daniel 6:10). Daniel had a regular and disciplined prayer life that clung to God. Daniel did not hide his daily prayer routine from his enemies. He prayed because he could not look to the king or any other human for the guidance and strength. Only God could provide what he really needed. He even continued to pray to and trust God when that meant being thrown into a den of hungry lions (Daniel 6) and facing deadly threats from King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2). Daniel was persistent in his prayers to God and grateful when God answered his requests. When facing trouble, Daniel did not shrivel in fear. Instead, Daniel confidently believed in the living and all-powerful God to answer his prayers for help.

Even more, Daniel would gather his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and pray to God for His intervention (Daniel 2:17–18, see also Philippians 4:6). Daniel and his friends knew that God is all merciful (Daniel 2:18), answers prayer (Daniel 2:19–23), gives help and guidance (Daniel 6:10-11); provides wisdom (James 1:5); and reveals secrets (Daniel 2:28). These Jewish boys knew prayer is more powerful than panic when facing a challenge or struggle because prayer confirms your hope in God.

After God answered Daniel’s prayers, Daniel praised and thanked God for giving him wisdom and knowledge (e.g., Daniel 2:20-23). Daniel also gave God credit and praise as all wise and powerful. So like Daniel, we must continually seek and desire God’s face each day. All the more, we must pray regularly as prayer is our lifeline to God. God is the Ruler of the world and we all need to be completely faithful to Him.

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