Studies in Daniel, iI Conflict, A Visions of the Ages, 1 The Stone, b Importunity. Text: 2:14-30, Title: Prayer in Demand

Introduction

Daniel and his friends are captives in Babylon who have become advisers to the king. Nebuchadnezzar, the king, has had a frightening dream. Last week we began our study of this section of Daniel, chapters 2-7 which are visions of the ages. We saw the insecurity of the world as reflected in Nebuchadnezzar. Today we see Daniel's response. In the next message we will see the actual dream and its interpretation. Daniel and his friends are importunate-which means they are driven to the wall. There is no way out, humanly speaking. The king has issued the decree that all the wise men must die 
because they cannot tell him his dream. Apparently Daniel was not there when the king asked for the dream but he will die just like the rest of the king's advisers unless he can tell the dream and its interpretation. What does he do? He calls a prayer meeting. In this we see an important lesson for ourselves. prayer is the greatest weapon in God's armory. In the spiritual arsenal nothing is more effective, nothing! This is so, because prayer calls upon the one who has all power. Let us see the characteristics of their prayer meeting. It was expedient, expectant, exalting and exultant.

I It Was Expedient

That is, it was the wisest thing Daniel or anybody else could do. In verses 14-18 Daniel is identified as having counsel and wisdom, 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. He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.  Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 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. This word for wisdom means he read the situation correctly. It is a word which means discernment. He perceived he could buy time because the king really wanted to know the meaning of the dream. But the wisest part of all was the call to pray. Now in ourselves we are probably not as wise as Daniel. and that is borne out by our frequent failure to pray. However the prophet Isaiah wrote about our Lord Jesus Christ saying in 11: 2 and 3, The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the lord. Since Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, and since greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world, we ought to be wiser than even Daniel was. Surely wise enough to pray often.

II It Was Expectant

Daniel's prayer was not just expedient it was expectant. It was not a mere form. He expected something to happen. At first in verse 18 it looks like all he expected was to survive Nebuchadnezzar's murderous decree. But in verses 29 and 30 it becomes clear that this is not the only expectation, “As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind. God is intervening in history. Daniel has a sense of destiny. His survival is not seen as important because of selfish reasons, but because he is God's representative in Babylon. God has a mission for him. If you jump forward to chapter 3: 17  and 18 where Daniel's friends are going to be burned alive in the fiery furnace, you can see from their answer that their own personal survival was not first in their hearts, but God's glory, If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” In this heathen place where we live, like Daniel and his friends, we do not know if it's God's will that we survive, but we do know that it is God's will that He be glorified and if we pray that way we can really be expectant. Of course that means we have to put His concerns above ours. The closer we grow to the Lord the more we are able to do 
this. Think of the apostle Paul asking for prayer in his letters. For example to the Thessalonians he writes in his second letter 3:1, Finally, brothers pray for us. Pray what? that the message of the lord may spread rapidly and be honored. And then after that, he says and pray that we might be delivered, and even that deliverance is for the Lord's cause because Paul is ready to die.

III It Was Exalting

God answers Daniel's prayer and his response to the answer is found in verses 19-23, During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, O 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.” As readers we already know  who gets the credit because of verse 30, when Daniel says, As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men. Prayer always exalts God because He is praised for the results. Notice how Daniel lists the attributes and works of God. Truly this is a paean of praise to the Lord. If we do not pray we shall not have this experience of exalting God.remember that the wise men of Babylon admitted that only God could reveal 
to the king the content of his dream as well as the interpretation of it. Let us be mindful of Daniel's example. The man had a God-centered reaction to the problem but he also had a God centered response when the catastrophe was averted. we need to be fervent not only in praying when facing a problem, but fervent also in worship when God delivers. Prayer which has the right aim will result in this. We should remember that the whole history of redemption, of which Daniel is a part, is only happening because God will get glory and praise to Himself and no other.

IV It Was Exultant

Verses 24-30 explain the intent of the dream, Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.” Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.” The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these: “As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. This passage also reveals the courage of Daniel. His words before Nebuchadnezzar are dangerous words before a man who thinks he's God and has the power to take your life. But God is real to us when we depend upon him. Our courage is greatly increased when we pray and we know God hears us. This is something Daniel says that only God can do. The wise men were right in saying only God could do it, and God has done it. Hallelujah. Here already we see the foundation for God's future dealings with the king. This monarch is going to end up on his knees, and Daniel is already celebrating the victory. Let us do the same, and we can only do that if we pray.

Conclusion

Now this has been a good lesson in prayer, but I don't want us to have just a good lesson in prayer. I want us to see that God's people, represented here by Daniel and his friends, have a special place in history. God who is the God of history acts on their behalf. They know He will do this because He has promised and we know because He has fulfilled that promise in Jesus Christ. He came to save us all by His death on the cross and His resurrection. He acted in history to redeem them. He acted in  history to redeem us. He is the Lord of history and He will continue to act in history if he acted in Jesus Christ. So God's covenant people are always conscious that God will work for them and through them to His glory and that is why they pray. If we do not pray, it means we do not believe that God sent His Son into history to save us. What is your position today. Do you believe in Jesus and know that you are forgiven? Then you pray because God is real to you. If you do not believe in Him then you do not really pray because you have no evidence that God will hear or answer. Only in this way will we wisely pray expecting God to act and joyfully exalting Him as He does act.