So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius! 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. 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.” So King Darius signed the law .... Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help. Daniel 6:6-9, 11
I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. Every king in all the earth will thank you, Lord, for all of them will hear your words. Yes, they will sing about the Lord’s ways, for the glory of the Lord is very great. Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. Psalm 138:1-8
With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. Romans 12:1-2
We get back to Daniel 6 this week after the cancellation of church last week and the use of a message from four years ago on Daniel 1 with last Sunday's online worship experience. The passage above from Daniel 6 picks up the story with Daniel's leadership peers going full tilt with their plans to eliminate him. Where is Daniel in all this? Surely, from the moment King Darius began making plans to place him above all his leadership peers (Daniel 6:3), he knew there would be trouble brewing. And as the other leaders looked for dirt in how he carried out his duties as a leader (Daniel 6:4), there likely were indications of what they were up to. You will notice verse 10 is missing from our passage above. This verse will be our main focus in the devotionals for the rest of the week, but we will borrow from it for today's devotional. It shows us that Daniel knew the plans of his leadership peers to get a law passed that would allow them to come after him in regard to his faith. Specifically, the focus would be on Daniel's practice of praying to the one true God. I raised the question, "Where is Daniel in all this?" There is no indication that Daniel is trying to counteract the efforts of those who are trying to do him in. I believe Daniel's focus in response to all that is going on around him is staying near to God and relying on God through the daily discipline of prayer.
The Psalm above was penned by David. Even so, I believe it serves to give us a glimpse into the kind of interaction Daniel had with God through prayer in the midst of the trouble that was unfolding all around him since the moment King Darius determined to appoint him over all the other leaders. As Daniel waited to see if King Darius signed the new law, it was the discipline of prayer that sustained him in the face of the pressure his leadership peers were putting on him. And now with the arrival of Daniel's leadership peers at his house it is Daniel's commitment and convictions regarding the discipline of prayer that lead to them finding him praying and asking for God’s help. How about us? If we were in Daniel's situation, would we be found so obviously engaged in prayer to God? This brings us to the Romans passage above. I love the words, "Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within." It is the discipline of prayer that allows God to re-mold your mind (repainting the double yellow line) from within and the result is that you don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold (cross the double yellow line). The Romans passage says that all this hinges on our becoming "a living sacrifice, consecrated to him."
Lord, I give myself to you as a living sacrifice, consecrated to you. Establish in me the commitment and convicton of heart and mind that will help me to be and do fully all you have in mind for me. Teach me the discipline of personal prayer that will allow me to be a Daniel walking a straight walk in a curved world. I entrust to you all the pressures I am facing that make it hard for me to stay on track. I make the words of the Psalmist my own today: "Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me .... You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me." Thank you, thank you, Lord God.
Posted on Mon, February 23, 2015
by Ken Hart