Aug. 17 Explore the Bible: Disciplined Prayer
Aug 12, 2014
By MARK A. RATHEL
A person rises no higher than his or her prayer life. The opposite is also true. Failure in prayer often leads to failure in actions and character. Prayer focuses upon God and His Kingdom, yet the Kingdom-building God builds Kingdom servants through prayer. The elderly Daniel was a prayer warrior. Prayer was a daily habit of the administrator. Even though the book of Daniel does not mention prayer frequently, prayer undergirded every aspect of Daniel’s life and ministry. Prayer gave him strength in the test about food (chap. 1). He no doubt prayed as his friends experienced the fiery furnace (chap. 2). Daniel must have prayed before interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (chap. 4) and the writing on the wall (chap. 5).
What lessons may 21st century believers learn from the ancient prayer warrior Daniel?
First, prayer builds character in the life of a believer (Dan. 6:1-5). Daniel received the gift of statesmanship and administration. The Persian king appointed 120 satraps in his new kingdom. The term “satrap” means “protector of the kingdom.” Daniel functioned as one of the three administrators tasked to ensure the government suffered no loss of tax revenue. Daniel likely was close to 80 years old; he had served with integrity governmental positions since he was a teenager. An “exceptional spirit” directed Daniel. Daniel’s character developed from his prayer life. His opponents could not accuse him; therefore, they sought to entrap him at the point of his strength—his prayer life.
Second, prayer lessons may be learned from people committed to prayer (Dan. 6:6-11). Trials may drive believers to pray in desperation. At the same time, consistency in prayer may allow a believer to connect with God in a way that “emergency praying” does not. Daniel’s prayer life serves as a great model for believers. First, Daniel was resolute in prayer even when it was inconvenient. Second, his prayer life followed a regular pattern. He had a regular place of prayer in the upper room. He planned his day around prayer times rather than praying at “leftover” moments. Daniel prayed three times a day, likely morning, noon and evening. Believers need to structure prayer into life. Third, Daniel modeled a posture of submission. The most common prayer posture in the Bible was standing with hands uplifted. Kneeling in prayer depicts submission before the Sovereign. Fourth, he prayed with a Kingdom focus. Daniel prayed toward Jerusalem, the capital city of the Promised Land. The direction depicts the Kingdom focus of his prayers. Fifth, even in a time of conflict and challenge, he expressed thanksgiving to God. Sixth, Daniel earnestly beseeched and implored God (v. 11). He did not offer up generic prayers lacking passion and concreteness.
Third, effective prayer is based on faith (Dan. 6:16-18). The king that issued a decree prohibiting petition to any god or man violated his own command by praying and fasting (Dan. 6:16,18). Ironically, he did not cast himself into the lion’s den. The king recognized Daniel’s God as the “Living God” (v. 20); Daniel prayed to the Living God that He would grant long life to the king that threatened the prophet’s life (v. 21). Daniel’s prayer reminds us that Darius’ own life depended upon God, the source of life. The prophet ascribed the agent of his deliverance as an angel (that actively shut the mouth of the lions, v. 22). The angel may have been a member of the angelic host or the Angel of the Lord—a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus.
Daniel prayed with faith in the den of the lions’ den. The text connects Daniel’s faith and his deliverance (v. 23). Hebrews 11, the listing of faithful people, referred to this miracle: “by faith … shut the mouth of lions (Heb. 11:33).
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