Have you read the book of Daniel lately? I love the insight and instruction Daniel gives regarding prayer and discerning the times. Daniel found himself as a young man taken captive in a foreign land. A land that served not the "Most High God." Daniel and his three friends were chosen to be taken into the king's service. In preparation for this they were to be treated differently, given special food and education. But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the Kings food or wine. In a time and place where it would have been easier to keep quit and go along with the program, Daniel made a choice, a choice that rather than leading to favor, could have led to death. As it turned out, by obeying God, Daniel did receive favor, not only from the King, but more importantly from the Lord. Daniel 1:17 tells us, "And as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams." Let's make up our mind this week, that we will not defile ourselves in this "foreign" land. That while it may look like we have to go along with the King's system to get favor, our favor is granted by The Most High God, Jehovah.
Daniel was prepared, not by the standards of the king, but by God's standards. I believe that we too must be prepared to do God's service in this world's system. How do we do that? First, we make a choice, as Daniel did, not to defile ourselves. We refrain from believing that it is the world's system that will deliver us. As we see markets and ideals crumbling around the world, we keep our eyes on the Lord and trust in His deliverance. Our situation today is not so different than Daniel's. Daniel and his friends were prisoner's in a foreign land. Every move they made, every word they spoke was under scrutiny. If not by the king, then by the kings governors who were jealous of Daniel. Jealous to the point of manipulating the King into issuing an order that could ultimately lead to Daniel's death in the lions den. Daniel had so prepared himself by leading an obedient and Holy life, that even King Darius believed Daniel would be spared, stating "...Your God, whom you constantly serve, will Himself deliver you." I love that! The king, ruler of the world's system, while not serving God himself, knew by Daniel's life that a) there is one True God, and b) He would deliver Daniel. And He did.
Daniel not only prepared by not defiling himself, he prepared through prayer. He prayed frequently and openly. Daniel 6:10 tells us that Daniel knew of the King's order that no one should pray to any God but the King. And yet, "... he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously." As he had done previously.....he would not be distracted, he would trust God.
In Daniel 10, after 21 days of praying and fasting, Daniel finally receives an interpretation to a terrifying dream. We need to pay close attention to what the angel told Daniel here in verse 12 & 13, "Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your hear on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days..." The answer to Daniel's pray was sent on day one! It was the battle in the heavenlies that had to be won before Daniel could get his answer! Let us have the same response that Daniel had upon realizing that our God hears and responds. Daniel 10:15 "And when he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless."
Are we prepared or are we distracted? Have we given up on our answer to prayer because we don't see it happening here and now? Without defiling ourselves, let us pray for understanding and for perseverance in the spiritual task ahead. "Do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous."