Focal Passages: Daniel 6:3-7, 10-11, 16-23
Prayer. When surveyed, most Americans will acknowledge prayer is important in their life. Indeed, since researcher George Barna began asking about people’s prayer habits, more than eight out of 10 Americans have consistently said they prayed in the previous week. Other polls indicate people are often confused as to the purpose of prayer. For example, according to a Beliefnet poll, only 38 percent said intimacy with God was the primary purpose of prayer, while 56 percent indicated their families were the primary focus of their prayers.
We can learn much about prayer from Daniel’s experiences in Daniel 6. Following his interpretation of the handwriting on the wall, King Darius ascended to the throne. Daniel was one of the 120 satraps (provincial governor) Darius appointed. His character was impeccable and he possessed an “extraordinary spirit.”
The satraps set themselves against Daniel and sought to destroy him. They decided to use his faithfulness in prayer as a weapon against him. They played on the king’s pride by suggesting that no one be allowed to pray to anyone other than him for a period of 30 days. The king agreed and issued the decree, with the lion’s den as punishment.
Consider for a moment that Daniel’s enemies knew him and his prayer life so well that they were aware he could not go 30 days without praying. Could you? If some act of Congress or a local government made it illegal to pray for 30 days, what would you do? What if it was only for a week? A day? How long would you be willing to not pray, under the threat of persecution? Who knows you well enough to know whether you would avoid praying, especially at the threat of death? For too many of us prayer is an add-on to our spiritual lives. It is something we do at mealtime or during a worship service, but it is not an indispensable part of our lives. It was for Daniel. He faced the lion’s den with confidence because he knew his God. That knowledge was derived through his prayer life. For Daniel, prayer was essential for his life. Is it for you?