Daniel’s colleagues were jealous of the favour he had with King Darius, they looked for a way to get him removed from the King’s service and discovered that he worked hard and with integrity, there was nothing that they could pin on him. They realised that the only way to jeopardize Daniel was to make the practising of his faith illegal. They played to the King’s ego and tricked him into signing a decree making it illegal to worship anything other than the King for 30 days. Daniel’s response to this was not to panic or pray discretely; instead, he continued with his usual routine of praying in the same place three times a day. His colleagues wait for him to do so and then take him to the King who is distraught as he realises he has been tricked. Even the King cannot revoke his own decree and the punishment for breaking it is to be thrown into the Lion’s Den. Daniel is taken to the lions and God shuts their mouths, as a result, he is unharmed. King Darius is then in awe of Daniel’s God and he writes to all the nations on earth to tell them about what happened.
This story in Daniel 6 makes me think of all the Christians in the world who are persecuted. For many it is a similar decision to that of Daniel, to publicly seek God could lead to suffering. For many of them they do it anyway because to them there is nothing more important than to meet with the living and Almighty God and encourage others to keep persevering in the faith. I find this deeply challenging given I live in a country where Christians are free to worship God and to meet together to pray.
In addition to making me think of Christians who are suffering for their faith, the passage reminded me of the power of prayer. We need to remind ourselves when we pray that we are praying to God for whom nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:26). He can shut the mouths of lions, he can heal sickness and he can break strongholds in people’s lives. Let that stir faith in us as we bring our prayers to him.
I write more on the persecuted church here, also Open Doors is one organisation doing good work in this area with lots of useful info on their website. Also there are a number of posts on prayer available here.