DANIEL: PATTERN FOR PRAYER
Sometimes life feels like a frappuccino in a blender. Nothing stays the same for long. Just when you think things can’t get any worse something outside of your control sends everything you know spinning. Sometimes you find yourself at the top and you can’t imagine how you got there.
Daniel knows the feeling. Captured by the strongest empire on earth, become an object of transculturation, Daniel now finds himself acting as one of the king’s top advisors. His annual review finds him “ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in (the) whole kingdom”. Then, without warning, an edict is published: Daniel’s level of government is being cut. Heads are about to roll.
At times like these we all know our first impulse is to react to the situation. We revert to instinct and hear our inner voice’s advice, “Panic Now!” Some of us take on the role of problem-solvers, while others of us curl up into our versions of an emotional fetal position. We are using coping strategies to bring equilibrium back into our lives.
Daniel chooses a different option. Daniel’s outlook embraces awe. Awe is a deep intaking breath of appreciation for God’s magnificence; it immediately precedes prayer. Awe sees God’s attributes and character as preempting every other situation or concern. It puts life into perspective: Awe sees God’s relevance to our existence.
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells in him” (Daniel 2:20-22).
Humbly, Daniel acknowledges that both his own rise to fame and his imminent fall are under the dominion of God’s control. Daniel’s wisdom comes from God’s wisdom; the power of the edict-making king of Babylon comes from God’s power and can equally be removed by God.
Acting from within this sense of awe, Daniel responds to the governmental crisis with decisive purpose. He obtains confirmation that the rumours are true. He informs the king of a plan, appealing for a delay in the injunction. Then, he surrounds himself with his accountability group of like-minded God-followers, and asks them to pray with him.
This is likely not a brief prayer session. The crisis is real and Daniel’s awe is deep. Daniel and his friends withdraw to a private chamber where they spend the ensuing hours on their knees, or prostrate on their faces petitioning God. They are not vague in their request. They are soliciting a specific allowance. They want God to put Daniel’s gifting into overdrive. They want divine interference not so they can avoid their tasks, but to enable them to discharge their duties to the utmost of their abilities.
I think Daniel teaches us something here that we must not let slip away. Our prayers must be preceded by awe, and serious prayer must ensue from awe. Every moment of anxiety must be put tenfold under the influence of awe and prayer. There is no place in our lives where worry is an appropriate substitute for awe and prayer. God is our source and resource for every challenge that comes our way. Do we believe it? Let’s save the word ‘awesome’ for God alone, and then use that word lavishly on Him.