The weeks leading up to this moment have been stressful; all the opposition and new standards to limit my effectiveness have left me worn down. The only retreat I have are those three times a day spent with my Heavenly Father. No matter what I carry into His presence, Jehovah hears and bears the weight of my burdens. I leave my time with Him with a renewed spirit and a conviction that He has a perfect plan, a plan that I can walk in by faith with great assurance that no matter the struggle or resistance, He is at work making all things conform to His extraordinary will.
At this moment, I need every ounce of assurance, having been arrested for praying and thrown in a lion’s den. The place was dark, the kind of dark that takes away all sense of reality. There was a low rumble and an answering growl from deeper in the darkness, then a brush of dense hair against my skin; it took my breath away. I could feel the hot whiff of something angry near my face… why did they wait as if to torment me with the looming horror I was to experience? Finally, I resorted to the only thing that brings me comfort… Prayer… I started with anguished cries and formulated what few words I could muster, “Father, take this cup from me, but if these are to be my final moments, may Your will be done.” I don’t know how much time had passed, but this seemed the sweetest hour of prayer I had known. A sense of joy consumed me, and I was encouraged to keep focused on my redeemer, the champion who initiates and perfects my faith. By His strength, I could endure the darkness, disregarding its despair. Soon I would be in Jehovah’s presence on my knees, worshiping at His throne.
To my amazement, the most beautiful light consumed the room. At the center was a man – every feature of his presence was like a brilliant fire; he moved from beast to beast, touching their mouths. He stared at me for a second with eyes that gleamed with hope and assurance and then left as suddenly as he appeared.
I slept between several magnificent beasts that night with a lion’s mane for a pillow and their warm fur as a blanket to ward off the dampness of the dark.
I awoke to the king’s shout of desperation, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” I answered, “Long live the king! My God sent His angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in His sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and ordered that I be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on me, for I had trusted in Jehovah. Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused me. He had them thrown into the lions’ den. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before hitting the den’s floor.” (Daniel 6:20-24 NLT)
Daniel’s life sets the pattern for a more remarkable man to step on the world’s stage. First, Jesus was attacked for His faith in God and falsely accused for His beliefs. He spent a time in anguished prayer that filled him with bold confidence that when he spoke His name to those tasked with His arrest, they were driven to their knees from its sheer power. Finally, Jesus was executed and laid in a dark tomb and rose again in the morning, having been found innocent in God’s sight.
The catalyst of both men’s lives was their time in prayer. Every moment spent in sweet hours of prayer drew them from this world of cares and offered them a time to make all their wants and wishes known at their Father’s throne. Their souls found relief in their seasons of distress and grief, and prayer strengthened them to escape the tempter’s snare by their constant return to that sweet hour of prayer.
Prayer changes us if we let it. A consistent, honest conversation with our Heavenly Father removes our focus from ourselves with our weaknesses and depravity and fills us with unexplainable contentment and joy. Why? Because He is perfect, and His word is perfect. Through prayer, and the nourishment of His word, guided by The Spirit living in us as Believers, we become ‘one-minded’ with Jesus and live our lives in conjunction with His. Persistent prayer keeps us in tune with every inclination of His heart, and we find ourselves responding and thinking just like Jesus. This kind of confidence strengthens our resolve to press on, no matter the resistance or darkness, knowing we are victorious because Christ is our Savior and King.
I pray you know Jesus like this. I pray you seek Him with all your heart, soul, and spirit. I pray you find hope and boldness because you strive with Him. I pray goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church. He is the author of two devotional books, “From a Chair by the Window.” And “#PrayerWinsThe Day”.
Think About This: “When we work, we work. When we pray, God works.” – Hudson Taylor