Sunday, May 18, 2008

Prayer in Daniel

Much of Daniel deals with dreams, interpretation of dreams, visions and miraculous demonstrations of God’ Hand in the life of Daniel. Not only in his life but in the Jewish nation while in Exile in Babylon.

Daniel, we learn, was a son of a family of the Royal household or of nobility. He was from the privileged class--big deal, because he was a prisoner of war, taken from his home land and brought into a very pagan country. He was also a very good looking young man who was both strong and smart. Daniel 1:4 fills in the info on him. We do not know what family line he comes from except that he was from either Judah or Benjamin's family line as he was from the Southern Kingdom.

After three years of pampering and learning, he and his fellow exiles were to work for the King of Babylon. As you may remember, there was a problem about food and drink. Daniel and his three friends wished not to defile themselves with the foods offered to the pagan gods. An agreement was reached and the four Jewish boys ended up being stronger and wiser than the rest, thus advancing in the household of the King. It reads in Daniel 1:17

The first recorded prayer in Daniel is found in Daniel 2:20. He was asking God for a very big answer to an almost impossible request--that is, impossible for men but not for God. Here is the problem. The king had a disturbing dream and he wanted his wise men to tell him the interpretation without telling them what the dream was. If they did not, he would have them all killed.

Daniel 2:10-11
The astrologers answered the king, "There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men."

Let’s read this prayer together.

Daniel 2:20-23

and said: "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 with Him. I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, You have made known to me what we asked of You, You have made known to us the dream of the king."

Let’s look at these verses and find out just how Daniel prayed and what was it He was asking/proclaiming.

#1 Centered on Praise to the Name of God.

Daniel was addressing the ONE True Living God who was for all time, without end or beginning. This Personal God made Himself known to the people of Israel from the very start. Abraham knew Him as the One who just started to talk with him. He gave Abram such a blessing. Gen. 12:1-3. Melchizedek called Him “God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” (Gen. 14:19.) Moses was introduced to Him as “I AM THAT I AM”.

Daniel called upon this God Who was filled with Wisdom and Power.

That is a good place to start.
We read from the Psalms a great many verses concerning praise going to God.

Psalm 7:17
I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the Name of the LORD Most High.
Ps 8:2 From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
Ps 9:1 I will praise You, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.
Ps 18:3 I call to the LORD, Who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
Ps 18:46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!
Ps 28:6 Praise be to the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy.
Ps 33:1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him.

That is only a few out of over 100 verses from Psalms concerning this praise issue. It is good that we praise our God. He is worthy of our praise, He is the center of our praise. He is to be praised! Jesus was asked to stop people from praising Him when He entered the City, that last time. He did not, He could not! The rocks would sing out IF people did not praise Him.

That is our place to praise Him. To seek His Face and not first to seek His hands. Seek first who He is and not what He can do for us.

We should seek Him because He is who He is. We should not seek Him for only what we can get out of Him. He is no dealer of things. No mere dishing out gifts to the first to call on Him.

We are to seek Him! Seek His Face.
And to seek His face in Praise for who He is!

Daniel recognized that his God was to be praised. He speaks of the things this God of his has: He has Wisdom and Power.

Wisdom is not the sort of thing one finds on a job resume nowadays. Too bad. I see old men working in the bank greeting visitors or at the market place, handing out baskets. At one time, these men were in positions of power and influence. I have talked to some of them and learned that they were very bilingual, well traveled, well placed in Industry. With their collective wisdom, whole corporations were formed. Such wisdom from these old men. Now, the young pass them by. They don’t learn from the years of experience they had lived out.

How much MORE wisdom the Lord of the Universe have than a score of these men. No one can match His Wisdom. Wisdom is more than a car trade name, wisdom is the whole of all knowledge. It is accumulated knowledge of life that has been gained through experience.

WHO has more experience than God? Think of the questions God asked Job.

Job 40: 2 "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!"
9 Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like His?

Job 38:33-38 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God's dominion over the earth? "Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'? Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?
Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?

And Power. He did it all: the stars in the heavens, the fish in the sea, the birds of the air. This God had the power of the wind and oceans in the palm of His Hand. This whole universe and all that it beyond it is in His Control.

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

#2 Deals with the Greatness of His Control
21 He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

His Control is beyond limit. As we could see so far, He was before there was time and He will last forever into Eternity. Put your head around that one! His God Daniel is serving in exile has the great Power to change not only people’s hearts toward Him but also He has the Power to change the times and His will. It is a passing thing in this prayer but we have seen such things in biblical history and in our time. His Story of how He caused the seasons to change all over the world so that there are persist seasons for growing, for harvesting.

He did it all.

And He sets up leaders at His will and to bring certain other leaders to fall. We look at things in Europe and those of us who remember, the Wall coming down was a direct answer to the prayers of many in the world who wanted only the wall to fall. Certain governing forces lost their grip on the land and freedom blossomed.

This God of Daniel is able to give wisdom to those who ask for it!

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

But certainly more than that!

Colossians 2:2-4 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.

We started by saying that the FIRST recorded prayer is Daniel 2, but there must have been one before this as THIS prayer was one of thanksgiving to his God for answering his request so well.

“...He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, You have made known to me what we asked of You, You have made known to us the dream of the king."

Now that God HAD indeed given Daniel the meaning of the dream, Daniel was free to express his thankfulness and to give his God all the praise due His Name. Daniel might have said: I thank and praise You...You gave me wisdom (something that was attributed to/with God) You made this mystery known to me--just what we asked for! He is God and He has done it!

Last weekend, about 200 people joined in prayer for Japan and to seek the face of God. The Global Day of Prayer’s theme verse (see web site: was even sung in a Jewish song. It went like this:

2 Chron 7:14-15
“...if My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”

THIS is just what Daniel’s God was waiting for: a People or in this case, a person or group of people who have turned toward the Lord’s Face to seek His Good pleasure.

To seek His face. Not really His Hand,
but it came that way because of the Grace of God.
To the Glory of God!