A Call to Prayer – Reflecting on Daniel 1 – 6
When Daniel was a young man, the southern kingdom of Judah was taken captive by Babylon in the first year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Daniel and his friends were taken from Jerusalem and brought to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had cleverly chosen the brightest and the best of the nations he had conquered, so that those nations would have no leaders to start a revolt against him. The king tried to change the identities of Daniel and his friends by giving them new Babylonian names based on false gods and by training them in his royal court for three years in the Babylonian language, culture, and literature. But Daniel and his friends did not forget the One True God. They continued to pray to Him AND continued to pray for each other.
A year later, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that disturbed him very greatly. He called his advisors together and asked them to interpret the dream, but he would not tell them anything about the dream. He further threatened their lives and their property if they could not tell him the dream and its interpretation. This, of course, was impossible even for the wisest of the men. Daniel interceded and met with the king. He asked Nebuchadnezzar to give him time that he might tell the king the dream and the interpretation. Daniel returned to his home, asked his companions to pray, and sought the Lord. Daniel knew that only the One True God could fulfill this impossible request.
And God did just that in a night vision to Daniel. When he returned to the king, Daniel explained that all the advisors were not capable of telling the king his dream, because only the God in heaven could reveal this secret. What God had shown Daniel saved his life and the lives of all the other advisors.
Because of the faithful witness of Daniel and his friends and their continued prayers to God, King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God as a “God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries.” Later, after Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a fire but came out of the flames unharmed, the king said further, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I decree that any people, nation, or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to rubbish….”
Daniel served 70-80 years in Babylon, under multiple kings. Because God gave him such favor with the kings, others grew jealous and plotted against him, resulting in his being thrown into a lions’ den. But when the lions did not eat him, although they were hungry and he spent the entire night with them, King Darius decreed “in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel, for He is a living God and His kingdom…will not be destroyed.”
Daniel and his friends remained faithful – even in grave danger – and God used them to touch whole kingdoms with the Truth of the living and reigning God. Daniel and his friends were placed in Babylon by God. His story is much like the story of Queen Esther, whom God put in a palace in Persia “for such a time as this.” And today, each believer around the world has been placed by God. And like the Babylonian culture in Daniel’s time, most cultures will push us to take on the values of the world. But if we are faithful and call on the Lord in prayer, we too can make a difference in our country and in the lives of those who come to our country.
After 9/11, people in New York City and in all of America, and even some around the world, were more open to the Gospel. The Lord is always reaching out, and this is particularly true in dangerous times. Perhaps people in other countries, as well as here, will be more open now that our security has again been attacked. And if so, that will include Muslims, and yes, even some of the radical ones.
My mom, who lived until she was 97 and died a few years ago, once said, “I don’t think the Church did a very good job of taking Jesus to the Muslim world.” I am reminded that we need to see with the eyes of God what He sees and would like to do. That can only happen in prayer.
Already we can see the Lord at work drawing many Muslims to himself. He does this in various ways; but one thing is certain, Muslims are coming here and to many other countries, and we need to pray and be ready to share Jesus. Here are some examples.
IHOPE ministry, http://ihopeministries.org , has reached many Muslims in this country and abroad. IHOPE was founded by an angry young man who truly hated Muslims before God changed him. He now has a ministry to help Americans learn to share Jesus with the Muslims already here. IHOPE also ministers to Syrian refugees in other parts of the world, befriending them and teaching them English. They report many coming to know the Lord.
One of my church’s pastors is from Cambodia. You can read his story at http://heartforcambodia.org. After the war in Southeast Asia, he was placed in a refugee camp. He was a non-believer when he witnessed that the only people who came to help and serve were Christians. In his powerful testimony, he reports that the prayers and ministry of those Christians led him to Christ.
The Wall Street Journal reported on October 23, 2015 (page A11), that gypsies who have become Christians are enthusiastically helping Muslim refugees arriving in their country of Croatia. Gypsies, also called Roma, are traditionally poor and marginalized in whatever countries they reside. Yet these Croatian Roma Christians are “involved [with Muslim refugees] daily, serving food, helping medical teams, playing with children, and praying.” As one Roma believer stated, “…this is an opportunity to show the love of Christ and to serve them. We can’t do that in the countries they’re coming from.”
Just as in Daniel’s day, God still reaches out through dreams. Joel 2:28 reminds us that a time is coming when the Lord will pour out His spirit; and old men shall dream dreams, and young men see visions. That time is now. There are reports that Muslims in countries closed to the Gospel are coming to the Lord through dreams and are faithfully standing for Him, even though it means imprisonment and even death.
We need to STAND with these fellow believers in prayer! WHY? Because our prayers bring light into the dark places of our world.
I believe that God would have us pray mightily for our Christian brothers and sisters world-wide as they encounter and minister to refugees and also pray for each other, that God would give us boldness to stand in faith in our cultures, sharing the Truth of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice by our words and acts of love. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to go before to open the hearts of Muslim refugees and other non-believers to hear and receive the God Who is Love and Who died for us all. God wants our prayers for the terrorists, too, that some might be saved.
This is a Call to Prayer. It is simply an invitation to pray for Christians around the world, as well as for each other here in the U.S., to be strengthened by God to share the love of Jesus Christ wherever God has placed us and for the Holy Spirit to open hearts as we do.
Won’t you join in this Call to Prayer?