Sunday, 24 July 2016

Daniel as a Man of Prayer

Adolph Saphir describes the prayer life of Daniel in the following passage from his book on the Lords Prayer. Many comments could be made, but one is, ‘Do I have time to pray?’

‘Let me remind you of the example of the saints of God, as recorded in Scripture. We read of David, “Seven times a day do I praise Thee, because of Thy righteous judgments”; and of Daniel, “that he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God.” This had always been his habit, a habit dear to him as life, for he would not relinquish it even at the risk of death. Nathanael was most probably in prayer under the fig-tree when our Saviour saw him. Peter had fixed hours for prayer: we read of his going up to the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.

‘These examples are very striking, especially when we notice the character and circumstances of the men. Take the case of Daniel. He was a man in a most prominent position, filling a place of the greatest responsibility. In one of the greatest empires which this world has ever seen, he held the chief ministry; pre-eminent among the presidents who ruled over the hundred and twenty princes who governed that vast monarchy. What a burden must have been upon his mind! How little leisure could he have enjoyed! And yet he found time to pray three times a day. He was determined to secure it; for he knew that prayer is a gain of time, an increase of strength, the safeguard and prosperity of work.

‘And thus we learn this great lesson, that regular private prayer is compatible with an active and busy life; that we cannot excuse ourselves by pleading the onerous character of our work, or the incessant claim that our occupations have on our time. The examples of diligence and regularity in prayer are taken from the chambers of the most active men of the world; who, though not of the world’s spirit, yet belonged to the world’s sphere and engagements. The men who prayed most have done most work; they were not slothful in business, because fervent in spirit.

‘The influence of this habit on the life of Daniel shows how the Father, who seeth in secret, rewards openly. The king and all the nobles noticed there was an excellent spirit in Daniel. The world may not be able to appreciate orthodoxy of religious opinion, or fervour of religious sentiment; it may not be able to see the height of your lofty doctrine, or the depth of your spiritual affections; but the world notices the excellent spirit of a man – his tone, the tenor of his life, his unfeigned humility, his unostentatious love of good works, his kindliness of heart, his integrity, his firmness and consistency: they recognise the man who is actuated by an inward principle and a heavenly influence.

‘This illustrious man had nothing to facilitate, but everything to obstruct, his spiritual life. In a heathen land, among a court worldly and opposed to the faith of Israel, far from the Temple of Jerusalem, and without the cheering influences of congregational life, he was exposed to temptations of doubt and despondency, in which it was easy to fall into languor and lukewarmness. Many envied him; not one sympathised with him. And yet they could find no fault in him. No inconsistency in life or temper, no injustice, no harshness, no pride; his only fault was ‘concerning the law of his God’. He was a worshipper of God, fearing and loving him. This was the only fault which jealous and watchful enemies could point out. What an illustration of the power of prayer!’