Study 3 HOW TO PRAY IN A TIME OF CRISIS
STUDIES IN THE LIFE OF DANIEL
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portions: Daniel 2:14-23; 46-49)
The opening verses of this second chapter of Daniel tell us that Daniel was facing a great crisis at this time. King Nebuchadnezzar had had a most amazing dream (verse 1), which he had forgotten. So, he summoned his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and other “wise” men (verses 2-4) and demanded that they reveal the dream and its interpretation to him (verses 5-9). The wise men of Babylon told the king that no one could do this, which made him so furious that he ordered the death of all the wise men, which included Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (verses 12-13). Daniel then sought an interview with the king and promised he would reveal the dream and its interpretation (verses 14-16).
This crisis was one of many crises which Daniel experienced during his long and eventful ministry. But what did he do when he faced a crisis? He prayed; and we, who live 2500 years later in the world’s history, should likewise resort to the place of prayer in our times of crisis, which we all experience. We experience times of national crisis (2 Chronicles 14:11-12); religious crisis (Acts 4:23-31); domestic crisis (Acts 9:36-43); and personal crisis - ill-health (James 5:13-14), or in connection with our business or loved ones. Are you facing a crisis now? Then do what Daniel did - pray! Look at Daniel 2:14-23, and see how to pray in a time of crisis.
1. SET ASIDE A TIME FOR PRAYER
Why did Daniel ask the king for time? Because he wanted to pray. He had his regular set times for prayer (Daniel 6:10), but the need now was for a special, extra time of prayer. He did not call a public meeting, organise a petition… Immediately he was faced with the problem he went to prayer. If you are facing a crisis now, set aside a definite time to seek God’s face and put the perplexing matter into His hands for solution.
2. GO TO THE PLACE OF PRAYER
Daniel returned to his house (verse 17). Why? Because in his house he had a place of prayer, a special room where the windows were open towards Jerusalem (Daniel 6:10). Jesus had a place of prayer (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12); Peter had a place of prayer (Acts 10:9); the God-fearing women of Philippi had a place of prayer (Acts 16:13). Do you have a place of prayer? Well, go to that place, as Daniel did.
3. SEEK FELLOWSHIP IN PRAYER
Daniel could have prayed alone, as he did in Daniel 6:10. We have Jesus’ authority for praying alone - look up Matthew 6:6. Can you see these four young men on their knees pleading with the Lord to hear and answer their prayers? Surely God could not refuse such petitions! Jesus gave a special promise concerning united prayer - look up Matthew 18:19; and in many other parts of the Bible we have illustrations of the power of united, corporate praying - see Acts 12:5. In your crisis now, seek the fellowship of one or more like-minded believers and share your problems with them.
4. BE DEFINITE IN PRAYER
Verse 18 tells us that these men prayed “concerning this mystery”. Look again at Acts 12:5: these early Christians were praying for one person - for Peter. If you underline in your Bible all the occasions of recorded prayer you will notice how definite this praying was. For example: Gideon prayed for a sign (Judges 6:39). Hannah prayed for a son (1 Samuel 1:10-13); Elijah prayed that it might not rain (James 5:17). What do you need? Ask God for it. If it is money - pray for money; if it is healing - pray for healing look up Luke 11:11-13.
5. WATCH YOUR MOTIVE IN PRAYER
These men prayed ”so that he (Daniel) and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon” (verse 18). Were they just praying that they might save their own skins? - “Lord, don’t let us perish with the others?” To understand the meaning of their prayer turn to 1 Kings 18:36-37. They were praying that God would be glorified and His kingdom extended through the answering of their prayers. Prayer with the wrong motive cannot prevail - look up James 4:3; but in Psalm 50:15 and John 14:13 we are told what should be the true motive of prayer.
6. EXERCISE FAITH IN PRAYER
That is, pray in faith. In this incident we see that Daniel had implicit trust in God that He could hear and answer prayer. In verse 18 he prayed for ”mercy from the God of Heaven”. He believed that God would hear and answer his prayer - see verse 28. He knew this in his heart before he made this statement with his lips. One reason our prayers are not answered is because of our unbelief - look up James 1:5-7. But we may have faith, for faith is a gift - look up 1 Corinthians 12:9.
7. RECEIVE THE ANSWER TO PRAYER
Notice the kind of answer God gave them:
- It was a DEFINITE answer (verse 19). They prayed for revelation, and God gave them revelation.
- It was a MIRACULOUS answer (verse 19). Only God could reveal secret things, and that is what He did.
- It was a HUMBLING answer (verse 19). It came ”in a vision”.
- It was an answer that called forth THANKSGIVING (verses 20-23). Read again Daniel’s great hymn of praise to the Lord.
- It was an answer that GLORIFIED God.