Daniel 2:14-23 - Desperate Times ≠ Desperate Measures
You can either worry about your problems or pray short prayers acknowledging who God is. Which one will bring you true peace?
Read / Listen
Read Daniel 2:14-23
CONTEXT: King Nebuchadnezzar has had a strange dream, so he asks his 'wise' men to interpret for him. Yet the king won't tell them what he dreamt; he figures that if they're so 'wise,' they should know without asking! When the wise men are unable to interpret the dream, the king orders their executions.
14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.
17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, 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.”
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 117
Q. How does God want us to pray
so that he will listen to us?
A. First, we must pray from the heart
to no other than the one true God,
who has revealed himself in his Word,
asking for everything he has
commanded us to ask for.
Second, we must acknowledge our
need and misery,
and humble ourselves
in his majestic presence.
Third, we must rest on this
even though we do not deserve it,
God will surely listen to our prayer
because of Christ our Lord.
That is what he promised us in his Word.
One of King Nebuchadnezzar's problems is that he was surrounded by dozens of 'yes men' - guys who kept their spots at the king's well stocked table by simply telling him what he wanted to hear when he wanted to hear it. But just a year into his reign, God sent dreams to Nebuchadnezzar which troubled him so much that he couldn't sleep.
Suddenly the sheen of his army of 'yes men' began to wear away as the king began to see through their charades when these supposed magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers couldn't even explain a simple dream. This chorus of fakers had wasted Nebuchadnezzar's time for long enough now, and he was done with them. And when the king had no more use for them, he made sure nobody else would either.
The problem was that Daniel and his friends were considered part of this cadre of wise men, even though they didn't utilize the same gimmicks the other ones did. Even so, they were set to be executed with the rest. Daniel utilized true wisdom as he spoke to the king's commander, and was able to gain audience with the king so that he might interpret the dream for him.
As Daniel gathered his faithful friends, they didn't spend any time at all strategizing as to how to weasel their way out of the predicament they were in. Rather, Daniel urged them to "plead for mercy from the God of heaven." As the Heidelberg Catechism would put it thousands of years later, they knew they "must pray from the heart to no other than the one true God, who has revealed Himself in His Word."
The Bible doesn't record the words Daniel and his friends prayed initially. Only Daniel's prayer of thanksgiving he prayed after God gave them the interpretation they'd asked for is recorded. But my hunch is that as they "pleaded for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery," that their prayers of petition were structured very similar to this prayer of thanksgiving.
Over the next couple of months, we'll be be referring often to the three components that nearly every Biblical prayer includes: Acknowledging who God is, Aligning our life with God's will, and then finally Asking God for what we need.
What we'll notice is that so many of the Biblical prayers that we're called to emulate are like Daniel's: they're fairly short, and they put the bulk of their emphasis on the first two A's - Acknowledging who God is and aligning their lives with God's will.
Imagine the peace that swept over Daniel and his friends, even as they faced imminent doom, as they acknowledged who God is: All wisdom and power are his, He deposes kings and raises others, He gives wisdom to the wise, and He reveals deep and hidden things.
Be sure to experience this peace for yourself. Pray lots of short prayers all through the day, with the emphasis on acknowledging who God is, reminding yourself in the process that all things - even your biggest problems - are under His control.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Open your prayer the same way Daniel did: pray the words in v19-23;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to make it your instinct to plead for mercy from the God of heaven when you face challenges, rather than worrying and fretting about them;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - John 17