Many things changed for Daniel over his lifetime, there were major shifts in power from one King to another, He was taken from his family to serve in the palace, his life was threatened and yet there was one thing that never seemed to change. As we read through the book of Daniel we can not only find Daniel turning to God when he need help, but chapter 6:10 tells us that “three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before”. For Daniel, praying three times a day was a part of who he was.
Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 reveals a passion and purpose that should help us understand how we are to humbly come before our God confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness and giving praise to Him. Daniel “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes”. Have you ever pleaded with God in pray and petition? We may never have donned sackcloth and covered ourselves with ashes as Daniel did but his example calls us to put aside all the distractions and things of life to be on our knees in front of our Heavenly Father.
Three times a day, most likely morning, noon and evening Daniel prayed to God, praising Him, confessing his sins, seeking wisdom and guidance as he was a leader and example to many. As vocational ministry leaders I believe we are called to be like Daniel, we must be set into a life that is centered around prayer. For many of us prayer is often the result or response to something that has happened, and that is OK. I am sure Daniel did the same thing as he worked through his day as things came up. It is his example and devotion to those personal times of prayer that should inspire us. Daniel spent time in his “upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem”; Matthew 6:6 commands us the same thing “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father who is unseen”. There is never a time when God is too busy to listen, it is the busyness of life that draws us away from the practice of prayer.
As I wade through the spectacular dreams of the kings and hear Daniels prophetic interpretations I can’t help but notice what the end result is in each scene, it’s something we like to call a conversion experience. We see a change of heart that leads King Nebuchadnezzar to “praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven” (4:37). King Belshazzar even though we don’t know if he turned hos heart to the Lord was used by God to make his presence known among the people. Through the events of the lion’s den King Darius makes a decree that all in his command are to “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” (6:26)
Daniel held some high positions in government and administration but God had given him the gifts of prophesy, interpretation and endurance as he fulfilled God plan to reach all the people through the dreams and visions of the kings. Daniel may have had influence within the courts of the king, it was God’s calling on Daniel’s life that led him to be in the presence of the kings as they were confused and unknowingly had God working in them to change. God had used Daniel to impact the lives of unbelieving rulers who in turn had the power and influence over the nations.
Are we like Daniel today? I have the privilege of being in a workplace that encourages spiritual growth and understanding. Like Daniel many of us today work in places that don’t consider faith and religion acceptable and yet through Daniels experiences we can have the hope that God will use us in ways we may not be able to imagine. When I reflect back on the time and space that God has used me in the past, He has opened the doors to many relationships that one day may bring people closer to him.
Thinking about the experience of God’s call to ministry in life has been in the forefront of my thoughts recently as I personally reflect on how that call unfolds in my life. When I think of Daniel in the Bible my mind typically recalls memories of the stories of Daniel in the lion’s den of the miraculous story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Today as I read with a specific purpose and look deeper into the life of Daniel I begin to get a glimpse of how he was called into service for the Lord.
Through the first few verses we are introduced to Daniel and his friends as they are being sought after by King Nebuchadnezzar as potential candidates to work in the palace as advisors to the king. Daniel was most likely from a family of royal or noble heritage, young and apparently “of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning and competent to stand in the king’s palace.”(1:4)
It would seem that Daniel had some good things going for him, what seems like a privileged upbringing, a continued higher education, and the potential of a position in the king’s palace. We also learn of the strong conviction Daniel had to be faithful to his upbringing in fulfilling the laws of his people. God had a plan for Daniel’s life. God brought him through life so far to be in this place, a place where he would be used to bring attention to the name of God. This was Daniels call; he was to be a prophet, one who God used to make His Word and self known among the people. God used Daniel to change lives. As a leader called by God I have the same responsibility, to make His name known among the people today. Reading the story of Daniel and experiencing his response to Gods call in his life is an encouragement and a challenge for me today.