As I was meditating the book of Daniel, there are four important aspects about prayer that I would like to share with you.
Daniel was a young man who was taken captive to Babylon by king Nebuchadnezzar. He and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego stood the test of time. These four men boldly refused to eat the king’s food, although they were just slaves. God honoured their simple decisions and blessed them tenfold.
Daniel later goes on to explain the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and he was promoted to the highest level in the kingdom.
It is amazing that Daniel did not serve Jewish kings who knew the God Jehovah. He served heathen kings, kings who knew nothing about Daniel’s God. Working under such kings, Daniel still could glorify God in all that he did.
Through the book of Daniel, let's unveil four important secrets about prayer.
1. Prayer should be a discipline
Daniel 6:10: Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
In the New Testament, Jesus constantly encouraged his disciples to pray. Paul says pray without ceasing. Prayer is essentially your relationship with your Saviour. This relationship with God is the bottom-line of everything that happens in your life. Prayer is being watchful. When Jesus talks about end time, he says in Matt 24:42, Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
Since early days, prayer was a discipline in Daniel’s life. It was not optional. It did not depend on the circumstances. Here we see Daniel knew the writing was signed. He knew if he prayed to the God Almighty, he will be thrown into lion’s den. Still, he did not give away that discipline.
He could have compromised. Everyday I’ve been praying. It’s okay if I miss 30 days. God wouldn’t mind. Or let me pray as I do my activities. Let me not set apart time for prayer.
Probably if you or I were in a similar situation, what would have we done? Even if we continued to pray, we would have closed all windows and locked all the doors and then prayed. Yet Daniel was no coward. He knew the Almighty he worshipped. Daniel knew that all eyes were on him and yet he continued to do what he had always done. He knelt before his open window and prayed, not once, but three times a day.
For Daniel, it was not just beginning to pray since there is a problem, it is just continuing in prayer. Scholars say he was almost 85 years old when this incident took place.
Daniel was in a responsible job. He was one of the top 3 administrators, with 120 men reporting to him. He definitely would have had lots of work and responsibilities. Doesn’t matter! God was always his priority. Praying was as much a part of his life as breathing.
In Psalm 55:17, we read, David writes “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.”
David again was king of the land. He could have been so busy and hence find thousands of excuses to let go prayer. But no, again God was his priority.
These men like Daniel and David knew that it is prayer that brings success and very truly they succeeded in life. God placed them in positions from where they could fulfill God’s mission.
2. Prayer should be selfless
Daniel was man of prayer. He kept on praying. But he did not pray for himself; his prayers were selfless. If you actually read his prayer, it is so amazing.
Dan 9:1,2 – Daniel read the scriptures and from the book of Jeremiah he understood that period of 70 years wherein the people of Israel would be as captives would soon come to an end. Jeremiah 29:10: For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.
So knowing this from the book of Jeremiah, Daniel begins to pray in accordance to God’s will.
He prays and he begins to confess the sins of his fathers of his people Israel. There is absolutely no need. Daniel knew he was walking in the right direction. Why should he cry, fast and be on sackcloth simply to confess someone else’s sin. No! Daniel was willing to intercede for others. If you actually read the rest of the chapter, that is from Daniel 9:4-19, you will see Daniel makes an awesome prayer.
How wonderful. No point Daniel says they sinned. They are worshipping idols. They are doing wrong. He says 'we' have sinned, 'we' have done wickedly. What humility in prayer!
This is the prayer that God expects. Praying not for ourselves but for our nation! You need to pray for others. God honours unselfish prayer. Read 9:23, ... you are greatly beloved. How wonderful!
3. Prayer is a spiritual warfare
Your prayer sets a battle in the heavenlies. That is what Paul says in Ephesians, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
In Daniel 10:2,3, again Daniel begins prayer for 21 days. On the 24th day, he sees a vision. In the vision, he sees a certain man clothed in linen, probably an angel of God. In vs. 12, we read “From the first day... your words were heard.” Yet Daniel had to wait longer to receive his answer. Why? Daniel’s prayer set a battle in heavenly realms. There was fight between Michael and the other wicked forces and the fight continued until the 24th day.
Daniel was obviously praying for the return of his people to their homeland. Only if this happens, years later, Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Devil wouldn’t let this happen. There is a terrible warfare that took place when Daniel began to pray on earth. And the angel before communicating other things to Daniel wanted to say to Daniel that the mission was accomplished. Daniel’s prayers would be answered.
Spiritual warfare is not just fantasy. It is a very real phenomenon that happens, although you can’t see with your physical eyes.
Whatever battle may happen, you can be sure of one thing. Satan would be defeated and the victor will be our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church. Jesus has conquered.
Are your prayers setting winning battles in heaven?
4. Prayer reveals the secrets of God
From Daniel 10:14, God begins to explain to Daniel what will happen in later days. God talks to Daniel about what will happen in future days. He talks about the rising and fall of various empires. The Persians in power; followed by Greeks and then followed by Romans. And then, there are prophecies about Anti-Christ, prophecy about the Great Tribulation and the last days.
Last verse of Daniel reads, “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”
Daniel was not alive to see any of these things. But God wanted to reveal the secrets and the future of his people to Daniel. Yes, your prayers can unlock the heart of God and the secrets of God.
May God bless you and meet you as you spend time in prayer.