Summary: A look at Daniel 6 where we learn about prayer, the reasons for it and how we do it.
The church choir director was being driven out of his mind at the rehearsals for the Christmas choral concert. It seemed that at least one or more members of the choir was absent at every rehearsal. Finally they reached the last rehearsal and he announced: "I want to personally thank the pianist for being the only person in this entire church choir to attend each and every rehearsal during the past two months." At this, the pianist rose, bowed, and said, "It was the least I could do, considering I won’t be able to be at the concert tonight."
Faithfulness. If there is one word which can be used to summarise Daniel’s life it would be bizarre but if we could use two then faithfulness would be right up there. It was the end of his life. By this time Daniel was in his late 80s or early 90s. Even today not many live to be that age. But Daniel was still hard at work as one of three deputies to Darius in running Babylon. In fact Daniel was so good at his job that Darius wanted to make him second in charge. He had remained faithful to God all his life, in the face of all sorts of pressure from various Kings, he has remained faithful to God. Not compromising on matters of faith. Now when he is almost at the end of his life, he faces one more challenge. The decree has gone out that no-one may pray to anyone or anything other than the King for a period of 30 days or they would be thrown to the lions. He had served his time, he had been faithful for nearly 90 years. Surely no-one would complain if he simply stopped praying for 30 days. He didn’t have to pray to the King, all he had to do was stop praying for 30 days then he could start again. Surely after a lifetime of devoted service to God, of following God and being God’s mouth-piece to the King, God would understand if he simply stopped praying for 30 days. But Daniel did not. He was faithful to the end. He would not compromise on prayer.
For his faithfulness he was thrown to the lions. He survived. Maybe he opened his cloak like a cape. But probably not. For those who didn’t understand one word of what I just said, you either weren’t here a couple of weeks ago when we looked at Daniel chapter 3 or you were asleep or you can’t remember. Anyway God saved Daniel from the lions. But there was no prior guarantee. Darius appeared to have a little faith, he says to Daniel that he hopes his God can save him from the lions. However, he spends a restless night without sleeping so it seems he didn’t have that much faith. For Daniel we know that Daniel knew God could save him, whether Daniel thought God would save him or not we don’t know. What we do know is that Daniel still prayed and didn’t give up. He was faithful, when it was much easier not to be. He did not compromise on prayer.
The importance of prayer
Daniel valued prayer so much that even in the face of death at lions hands, he would not stop even for 30 days. Daniel saw the importance of prayer. There are all kinds of catch phrases, bumper sticker ideas and platitudes that people use about prayer. One of them that just happens to be true is perhaps something that Daniel would have agreed with. 7 days with prayer make one weak. We need to pray.
“Prayer,” someone once observed, “has already divided seas and rolled up flowing rivers, it has made flinty rocks gush into fountains, it has quenched flames of fire, it has muzzled lions, disarmed vipers and poisons, it has marshalled the stars against the wicked, it has stopped the course of the moon and arrested the sun in its race, it has burst open iron gates and recalled souls from eternity, it has conquered the strongest devils and commanded legions of angels down from heaven. Prayer has bridled and chained the raging passions of men and destroyed vast armies of proud, daring, blustering atheists. Prayer has brought one man from the bottom of the sea and carried another in a chariot of fire to heaven.”
We might not be needing those sort of things to happen, sometimes we might. But the need for prayer is just as great. While it can go all those spectacular things, it can also keep us going. Or rather God’s response to our prayers can keep us going. Daniel obviously regarded prayer as important but why should we. I’m sure you must have heard the argument that if God knows what we want before we ask, then why do we have to ask. If God knows everything then why do we need to pray. Well I want to suggest three reasons why we should pray.