I am on vacation until 6th August. Until then here are some short thoughts (given originally as devotional talks) on Daniel….
Most of us have heard the phrase “A quiet life.” How many of us have said to ourselves “I just want a quiet life – no hassle, no problems, no conflict, no hard work – just a nice quiet life.”
We look at retirement as the time to enjoy a quiet life. The problem is as believers, we probably will not get a quiet life.
For as long as Jesus decides to remain in heaven Christians will have the task of declaring the name of Jesus to the world.
Over 60 years have passed since the young Hebrews first arrived in Babylon. Daniel is now in the region of 80 years old. He has spent his lifetime in this foreign land. He had spent a lifetime in exile. He had spent a lifetime in exile still worshipping God.
Daniels lifetime of worshipping Yahweh had turned him from a tenacious teenager to a provocative pensioner.
And Daniel is not going to have a quiet retirement!
At the end of chp 5 we have Babylon falling to Darius the Mede, who now rules Babylon, and he appoints Daniel as one of the rulers over the Satrsps.
And even after 60 years, Daniel keeps making enemies. Daniel is not liked. His abilities, his willingness to everything as well as he could made people jealous of him. They were jealous that Darius planned to make Daniel the number one guy in the Kingdom.
Faithfulness to God requires us to be faithful in EVERYTHING we do, from friendships to chores in the house, to obeying our parents, to doing our school work. And as we are faithful, people will see that we can be trusted and that we are honest.
Joseph, in Genesis, was just the same. His brothers sell him into slavery, he is sold to Potiphar who then sends him to jail on a false accusation – but in EVERYTHING Joseph did he did it well, even when he was in prison.
Jesus was faithful to the Father in EVERYTHING he did – and that led him to the cross.
Being faithful, honest and trustworthy does not lead to an easy life, or even to being liked by people.
One person that you will definitely make an enemy of as a believer is the devil – and he will never stop trying to destroy YOU. As a believer in the one God of the universe, revealed to us in Jesus Christ, you have made an enemy of Satan. There will be no rest bite – there will be no quiet life as long as you declare jesus Lord.
But Daniel’s behavior was such that they could not find any charges against him. He was a man of integrity – trustworthy, not corrupt or negligent.
I wonder what would happen if someone tried to find some dirt on us? How easy would it be for them to discover something about us? Would it be easy or hard? Would someone trying to make trouble for us discover that we too are trustworthy, not corrupt, false or negligent?
In the end the only way to try and get rid of Daniel was to dupe a gullable Darius into signing a decree that meant everyone had to worship Him for the next thirty days.
Darius probably fell to flattery and pride – how would you like a nation to worship YOU for 30 days. It showed Darius’ weakness. Being influenced by flattery is so easy isn’t it! There is an old saying which says: beware of the person trying to butter you up – he is preparing to fry you!
What is interesting about this is that they limit the time to 30 days. This shows that they knew Daniel’s way of life and that there would be no doubt that Daniel would break this law.
There is a strong connection between this chapter and chapter three where Shadrach, Meshach and Abedego are thrown into the fire. The similarity is striking – but there is one difference – the three where thrown into the fire for REFUSING to worship an idol.
Daniel is condemned for REFUSING TO STOP WORSHIPPING YAHWEH.
Despite the peer pressure – the public pressure – the pressure of death, Daniel KNEW that it would be a SIN to stop worshipping Yahweh – no matter who said so and matter the cost.
Is there anything that would stop us from worshipping God? Peer pressure? Public pressure? Family Pressure? Reputation pressure?
Daniel knew it would be so wrong to stop.
And his enemies KNEW this too – which is why they set this plan up.
Daniel would get caught because while he did not flaunt his faith he did not hid it either – windows open he prayed to God three times a day.
And this is the key to Daniel’s survival in Babylon. How did this man thrive in Babylon for 60 years? How did he maintain, and grow in his relationship with God?
Prayer is the source of Daniel’s survival, growth and success.
Daniels prayer was a consistent habit. His enemies knew he prayed. He had probably prayed like this for the entire time of his life in Babylon and before in Jerusalem. He was consistent to make sure that he set the time apart so that he could go and pray. Prayer can only happen if we consistently create space to GO AND PRAY!!
His prayer was a conspicuous habit. People knew he prayed. There was nothing hidden about Daniel’s prayer life. Do people in your youth group know you are a prayer! Do you know that you are prayer!!
His prayer was a committed habit. Daniel was highly unlikely to break this pattern for the sake of the Kings new law. What priority does your prayer life have in your life.
This habit of prayer is neither short-term nor superficial. It was not panic prayer ‘Oh God help me” – it was not pleading or bargaining prayer, “God if you this I will do that…”It looked beyond what Daniel could see and focused on God, seeking his perspective and his view point.
It is through prayer that Daniel finds a different center to his life and through prayer that he maintains it.
Whatever else might help us through changed and changing times the one thing we cannot do without is a commitment to pray.
No-one, and I mean no-one who claims to be a Christian can maintain a rich or growing faith without prayer.
No relationship can exist without communication. The same goes for God. The practice of prayer is inseparable from the nature of the Christian life. The Christian life is all about being “In Christ” – knowing Jesus as our Lord, learning about Him, growing in Him and He growing in us though his Spirit. But in order for this relationship to happen and continue requires us to spend time with Jesus, both through Scripture and in talking with him.
And one of the incredible things that we learn through prayer is that there is another world beyond the visible. Daniel knew that Babylon and Persia and all the other Kingdoms to come do not have the last word.
We really have no idea what power we have in prayer. Prayer is an incredibly powerful thing to do – to speak to the King of the Universe. This is not about wielding power as we want it – that we pray because God will yield to our wants. But as we seek God and ask him to be involved in our life we will see some incredible things.
That is why Daniel went to prayer, as he always had done, with his windows open, knowing that it would lead to a possible death sentence. God is God and deserves worship and praise regardless of what anyone says – and Daniel knows that he must be faithful to this.
When Darius realizes what has happened and that his own decree is going to put Daniel into mortal danger, he is upset.
Darius likes Daniel. He knows of Daniel’s prayer life – he tells Daniel that he hopes that the God he prays to will save him.
I find this incredible. Daniel’s faithfulness, his integrity, his commitment to worship God is attractive to Darius as it was attractive to Nebuchaddnezzar.
And yes, Daniel’s faithfulness to God saves him, just as our faithfulness to God will save us.
But faithfulness is grown through prayer and through prayer we will continue to be faithful.
Learn to be consistent in prayer, to be conspicuous in prayer and to be habitual in prayer. To do this will be a battle for you. Andrew Murray, author of Christ in the School of Prayer, said that “the devil’s greatest tool is to keep the believer from praying.”
Today, make a decision to get rid of your misconceptions about prayer. Admit that maybe your too busy, too lazy or too tired to pray. Acknowledge that prayer was the VERY method of communication that Jesus used to talk to God! And if Jesus needed to pray, wanted to pray, was compelled to pray…what makes us think we could ever live without it?
The first step in a, consistent daily prayer time starts with a
humbling, surrender of ourselves and our sin of prayerlessness.
Second, make a decision to pray every day for the rest of your life. Rather than considering it a legalistic gesture, think of it as your unwavering commitment to your relationship with God.
But it begins with your time.