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?
Yes, the king replied, that decision stands; it is an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.
13 Then they told the king, That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring you and your law. He still prays to his God three times a day.
14 Hearing this, the king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament.
15 In the evening the men went together to the king and said, Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.
16 So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.
17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night.
19 Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. 20 When he got there, he called out in anguish, Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?