During our time together we have been studying the Tabernacle and talking about what it means to abide in the presence of God. And we have begun looking at a man from scripture who is (I think) one of the greatest examples of prayer warrior that we have; and that is the prophet Daniel. And just to give you a little background…
During the time of Babylon (where Israel has been in exile) the kingdom falls to Persia. And therefore there is a new king (a Persian King, by the name of Darius). He comes to power and encounters this man Daniel. And this is how powerful the witness of Daniel’s life was. Daniel, whose hunger for God drives him to excellence in all he does, so distinguishes himself among the administrators and satraps that King Darius plans to put him over the whole kingdom.
Now the administrators and the satraps are not happy about that, so they immediately seek to find a basis to make charges against him. But the scriptures say They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent (NIV).
What a wonderful testimony to have by the way. And these guys are getting frustrated. And finally they say, “You know what? We are never going to find any basis for charges against Daniel unless those charges have something to do with the law of his God.”
And so they trick the then self-worshiping king into making a law that cannot be changed; that for the next thirty days, anyone who prays to anyone or anything except to him will be thrown into the lions’ den. And so Darius signs the decree.
Now I love Daniel’s reaction to this when he hears of it. It is the same reaction he had when he heard that Nebuchadnezzar was going to have all the wise men in Babylon (including himself) put to death. “he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”
Now here we begin to see the secret of Daniel’s spiritual hunger. And that was that he had cultivated a steady prayer life. Now this “upstairs room” very likely was not just a normal part of his house. [Some scholars believe that Daniel had a prayer chamber built on top of his house, with the windows permanently open toward Jerusalem.] But no matter how you look at it, this was a very visual demonstration of his devotion to God.
And though he could have allowed himself of become puffed up and arrogant in his exalted position as the chief administrator of the whole Medo-Persian empire, he didn’t. Instead we find that the posture that defined Daniel’s life was that of kneeling; he showed a spirit not unlike David, recognizing that he was merely a servant in the hands of God.
Now I want you to picture Daniel, kneeling by the window. And the windows are open. Why are the windows open? Is it because he is being defiant? After all, doesn’t Jesus say later that you ought to pray in secret so that the Father, who sees in secret, might reward you? Don’t make a show about it. Well here Daniel seems to be making a show about it. Why? Is he being arrogant and defiant? No, I don’t think so. Remember that Israel was going through a very difficult time right now. They had been commanded by God to worship only him, but ever since they were taken into captivity by Babylon, and now Persia, they have been surrounded by people who were worshiping multiple gods, performing indecent acts, and participating in a variety of horrific pagan practices. They were heartbroken because the Temple of their God, which they believed would never fall, had fallen. They were hopeless exiles, wondering if perhaps they should just throw in the towel and merge with their pagan neighbors and worship their gods as well as the Persian King.
Yet God had given His people a mighty demonstration of His providence. By the miraculous hand of God, a ruler of Persia had been chosen from among them. And he was a ruler that had THEIR best interests at heart. His room with his open windows was a beacon of hope for Israel, because it showed that God's providence was still at work for them. That open window where Daniel prayed was his way of encouraging them to remain hungry for God; to maintain an appetite for Him alone. And they could see that hunger lived out in him, where he prayed in their sight not once; not twice; but three times a day, modeling for them the kind of desire they needed to have for God and His deliverance.
But notice something else about this passage. Not only are the windows open, but they are open towards Jerusalem, which remember is very far away (he can’t even see it). Is this because he misses home? No. He’s been away from home for almost 70 years now, so I think he is over his homesickness by now. Is it because he misses his family? No, his family (if they are still alive) are among the rest of the Israelites here with him in captivity. Is it because he misses the promised land? Maybe in part, but the scripture doesn’t tell us his window faced towards the general area of the promised land. No, it is more specific. His window faced towards Jerusalem. Why is that important? (PAUSE) Because that is where God’s house is; in the Temple in Jerusalem. You see...Daniel...is yearning...for God!!! And he will never be satisfied until he is where God dwells. In and throughout the Psalms you can see how God’s chosen people loved Jerusalem; how they yearned for the house of the Lord:
"How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God. (Psalm 84:1-2)
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper
in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked."
Now Israel, for the most part, had lost that hunger for their God, which is why God sent them into exile in the first place. But did you know that Daniel’s prayer towards Jerusalem is also a direct fulfillment of prophecy? Remember how Daniel and his friends found favor in the eyes of their captors? Well this was a direct answer to King Solomon’s prayer for them hundreds of years earlier, when he foresaw the possibility of an exile. Listen to what he asks God in I Kings 8:46-50 to do for them. It is incredible……
I Kings 8:46-50 (ESV)-- 46 “If they [Your people] sin against you— for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near, 47 yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ 48 if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, 49 then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause 50 and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you, and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them
Isn’t that amazing? Daniel is modeling for Israel the kind of repentance they need by facing that city; that house that Solomon had built for the NAME of the Lord. In a similar way, so ought we to model for our generation what true repentance looks like; what it means to be hungry and thirsty for God. Now the Rulers and Satraps knew when Daniel would pray, because it was like clockwork. So it says in…
Daniel 6:11-24 (NIV)-- 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.
And of course they turn him over to the king who (though not wanting to thrown him to the lions, because of the law he made) has to do so. And he says, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
And God’s angel visits Daniel and shuts the mouths of the lions and when Darius come the next morning, he finds Daniel alive and has him pulled out and his accusers thrown in; and then Darius says something remarkable. Listen to this. And keep in mind this is a pagan king. The scriptures say that…
Daniel 6:25-28 (NIV)-- 25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
“May you prosper greatly! 26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus[b] the Persian.
Talk about having an impact on the world for God! Unbelievable! Because of one man's faithfulness to live a life of integrity and holiness before his God, the course of Israel was changed as the entire nation of Persia turned in worship to God. Why? Because Daniel remained hungry for God.
So it is amazing to see what God can do through one man who remains hungry and thirsty for Him. I wonder what would happen if we could become hungry for God like that. What would happen if you and I began earnestly praying for God to give us a hunger for Him; and then satisfy that hunger by lunging into His presence; praying fiercely; not merely reading, but devouring God’s Word; and setting ourselves to doing His work.
That is our challenge this week. As we continue in our devotional lives, let us pray that God might establish in us an enduring hunger for Him. And when He gives us that hunger, let us eat until we are satisfied and even more. And I promise you, both our hunger for Him and the level of blessing we allow Him to give us will grow exponentially. Let us cultivate a habit of prayer. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Ury graduated from Asbury University in 2007 with a B.A. in Bible and Theology. From there he continued his studies at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS. It was there that he met his wife Tanya, who graduated from WBS with her M.A. and M.Div. degrees. Cameron and Tanya got married in 2009. Cameron then graduated with his M.Div. degree with a pastoral concentration in 2011.
After shepherding churches in both Mississippi and Ohio, they joined the ministry team at Renton Park Chapel in January of 2018, where Cameron serves as Senior Pastor and Teacher.
Cameron is also the founder and host of Lechem Panim, a weekly radio show that airs on KGNW 820AM "The Word Seattle". The ministry of Lechem Panim is centered around leading people into the life-giving presence of God in and through Bible study, prayer, and active discipleship with the aim of ministering to a world that is in desperate need of the healing touch of Jesus Christ.