Summary: The discipline of prayer is not optional but rather a basic requirement of the spiritual life and as a response to the love of God for us.
He Went Home and Knelt Down as Usual
March 25, 2012 Dan 6
It is two weeks until Easter. So as we prepare, I want to tell you a familiar story. About an innocent man betrayed by friends around him, presented before a ruler who could not save him, then condemned to a horrible death. It is a story about desperate prayer, a stone rolled across a grave, and then a visit to the grave early in the morning where a miracle awaits. It is the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, though it sounds much like the story of Jesus.
Last Sunday we met Daniel, now likely in his 80s, called before the king to interpret some mysterious writing on the wall. The chapter ended with the king being killed and the city of Babylon conquered by the armies of Cyrus of Persia, one of the huge shifts in ancient near eastern politics. There is all kinds of fascinating history contained in these pages. The conquering army next faced the challenge of ruling the people, and one smart way of doing so was to appoint leaders that people knew and trusted, who would now act on behalf of the Persian Empire rather than the Babylonians. So,
1 Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a high officer to rule over each province. 2 The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests. 3 Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.
4 Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. 5 So they concluded, Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.
6 So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, Long live King Darius! 7 We are all in agreement, we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors, that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human except to you, Your Majesty, will be thrown into the den of lions. 8 And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked. 9 So King Darius signed the law.
10 But when Daniel learned that the law 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. 12 So they went straight to the king and reminded him about his law. Did you not sign a law that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human except to you, Your Majesty will be thrown into the den of lions?