Be a Daniel in a Nebuchadnezzar World
“We've done everything we can do, the only thing left to do now is pray.” Sound familiar? In 2020 I'd say anyone would like to have a nickel for every time that phrase was uttered. Let's think about that phrase for a moment. The first question we might ask ourselves is “Should we pray?” Absolutely we should pray! But, we have it backwards when we think that prayer is a last resort. Prayer shouldn't be our last option when we have exhausted ourselves and are ready to give up and throw in the towel. Instead, God should be the very first one to whom we speak to. That is for when things are going well and when things are going bad. God wants to hear from us. It is a relationship!
Throughout the Bible you will see time and time again people praying to God. Most of us are familiar with King David's prayers in Psalms, and Mary's joyful prayer we hear of during Christmas time. We certainly know Jesus prayed. But when you think of those you pray, do you ever consider Daniel?
My home study group and I are finishing up a study series in the Book of Daniel. It tells of the life and career of Daniel, beginning as a youth during the time of Babylonian captivity, and his rise and influence while under the rule of Babylon and later Persia. Throughout the book you will see that, time and time again, Daniel is a man of prayer.
During our study, what we found interesting was how much the struggles and pressures that Daniel faced were so relatable to our lives today. Taking note of this, we find that there is a lot that we can learn from Daniel's strong faith in God and his prayer life.
2020 so far has certainly been a year of unknowns. A year of injustice, conflict and opposition. The things that Daniel faced were no different. He first faced exile from his home at a young age and became a captive in a foreign land. He had to choose between giving in to the ways of society or risking his life and standing up for what he believed in. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was a fierce ruler and certainly not someone you would want to displease. If he didn’t like you, if you did not submit to his ways, it may cost you your life. As the late great bible teacher Chuck Missler once put it, Nebuchadnezzar “knew how to reduce head count.” Later in life Daniel was under the rule of the Medes and Persians. Once they made a law it couldn’t be repealed. So when a law was created that anyone who prayed to any other god or person other than King Darius should be thrown in to the lions den, what was Daniel to do? He prayed.
He prayed when it wasn't popular. He prayed when it was illegal. He prayed knowing he could die because of it. But Daniel chose to please God instead of pleading the world. And God blessed him for it. Because of Daniel's loyalty and faith to God, we see one man's faith change the heart of Nebuchadnezzar. That same faith kept Daniel safe in the lion’s den. One man's faith in God, one man's prayer life, ended up changing not only one, but two empires! God is in control, and if we have faith and pray we have an opportunity to be a part Gods plan.
I think it is no surprise to us now that life is full of struggle and at times suffering. Where do you turn to in times of need? Who or what do you put your faith in? When you or a loved one is sick, when your back is against the wall, when the wolves are at the door, who is your deliverer? Daniel chose God.
"Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard..." - Daniel 10:12
If we set our hearts to trust and obey God he will hear us when we cry out to him. Beloved, that can change anything and everything. To paraphrase our pastor Dr. Bruce Frank at Biltmore Church in Arden North Carolina, that if we line our hearts up vertically with God first, it in turn changes our hearts and our perception with others horizontally. I know I haven’t quoted his words exactly, but if you think of the cross and the words, you should get the picture. Through God, we can see and hear the world and other people the way God sees and hears them. Can I change the world? God can. He can choose to do it through you. It can begin with you praying for your family, friends, neighbors and community. Pray for our leaders, our government. Pray for patience and understanding. Pray for cooperation and compassion. Pray for our nation to seek the Lord and His will. Love can go viral if we allow it to. Pray, and pray often. Be a Daniel in a Nebuchadnezzar world.