I wonder what you think of prayer…
Fun? Useful? Frustrating? Necessary? Pointless? Difficult? Overrated? Underrated? Maybe a little bit of all those things, and much more, at various times of life. Sometimes it might seem so natural, so effective. At other times, it seems like it’s got all the glamour and worth of smacking your head against the proverbial brick wall.
But as I read through Daniel, I find a different perspective on prayer.
Prayer is worth dying for.
Daniel 6 tells us the well-known story of Daniel in the lions’ den. Indeed, the NIV heading says, ‘Daniel in the den of lions’, because that’s where he ends up. But that’s not really the central bit of the story. Sure, Daniel ended up in a lions’ den, which is perhaps the most interesting bit of the story – the kind of thing that could feature on youtube, the evening news, or in that ‘Drama in Real Life’ section in Readers Digest (remember that?). But actually, maybe the important stuff is what happened outside the lions’ den.
Daniel’s all set to become top dog, but the people who are going to be immediately beneath him in the chain of command are less than impressed. They convince the king to publish a decree that promises an all-expenses paid visit to the lions’ den for anyone who dares to pray to a god or man other than the king himself. When we pick up the story in verse 10, we read this:
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
And so we see the value that Daniel attaches to prayer.
And so I’m swamped with guilt. There’s no threat on my life, and yet I still give up all too easily on prayer! I certainly don’t attach a worth-risking-your-life-for sort of value to it. But the fact of the matter is, guilt is only useful if it takes us somewhere we need to go. And if I return to prayer with a renewed desire to communicate with my maker who loves me, then this thought process has been worth it.
What about you?