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 The Power of Prayer by Zac Poonen

1. In Daniel Chapter 2, we read about a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. Nebuchadnezzar called his wise men and told them, “Tell me what I dreamt and its meaning.” Those wise men are a picture of preachers who have no touch with God, but who are deceivers. Such preachers cannot interpret God’s Word or the times correctly. Those wise men said, “Only the gods can show you what you dreamt. No human being can do that. It is impossible. But if you tell us the dream, then we will interpret it for you.” Now, we know that if someone tells us his dream, it is easy to cook up an interpretation and to pretend that we got it from God! That’s what a lot of preachers do today. But Nebuchadnezzar was a shrewd man. He said, “If you all are really in touch with God, you will be able to tell me the dream as well.”

How did Daniel get the answer to the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had? First of all, he had faith that God would reveal it to him. He went to God. He called his friends (2:17). There is a tremendous value in fellowship in prayer when we face a problem that is too difficult for us. Daniel understood the principle of fellowship in prayer. He was a new-covenant man living in old-covenant times. His attitude was, “Let me not pray about this all by myself. Let me get my three brothers to join me and let us pray together.” And they prayed together and he said, “Let us ask God to show us mercy and reveal this to us” (2:18). They began their prayer with a time of praise. This is always a good habit. They said, “Praise the Lord for His sovereignty. He is the One who determines the course of all events in the world. He is the One who removes kings and sets others on the throne. He is the One who gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He is the One who reveals deep and mysterious things. We thank and praise You, God, because You have given us wisdom and strength” (2:20,21). Any time you find that you can’t get through in prayer, you should start praising the Lord. Think of God’s greatness and praise Him - and you will find the atmosphere clearing up immediately. Then God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel. And he went and gave the king the answer, acknowledging, “This is not due to my cleverness. It is because God revealed it to me” (2:30). Daniel was a humble young man who was willing to give God all the glory. God reveals His truths to such men.

2. In Daniel Chapter 6, we come to the time when King Darius was ruling the Medo-Persian Empire. He too appointed Daniel to be one of his administrators (6:2). Even though Daniel was the Prime Minister in the previous kingdom, Darius still made him the Prime Minister in his kingdom. What a testimony Daniel must have had to earn the confidence of successive rulers in different kingdoms! Daniel was now more than 80 years old - but he was still the same uncompromising man that he had always been – and God honoured him. There were evil people in that kingdom, however, who were jealous of Daniel and who wanted to destroy him. They went to the king and got him to pass a law that was primarily directed against Daniel. This is so similar to what happens even today. Evil people seek to destroy God’s servants and get governments to pass laws that forbid people from being converted to Christ. The threat in Daniel’s time was, “If you pray to any other god, you will be thrown to the lions.” Today the threat may be, “If you convert anyone to Christianity, you will be thrown in jail!”

When Daniel heard that the king had passed this law, what did he do? He knelt down and prayed. He feared God more than he feared any king or government. And like the apostles would say in a future day, Daniel’s attitude too was, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts.5:29). So the very thing that the king’s edict said he was not to do, he did. No law was going to stop him from praying to his God. He used to pray always with his windows open towards Jerusalem. He could now have considered praying with his windows closed. But he was not ashamed to be seen praying to the only true God, and so he kept the windows open. We too must never be ashamed to be openly known as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he prayed not just once a day, but three times a day - as he had always done. Those jealous officials were just waiting for this moment - and as soon as they saw Daniel praying, they reported him to the king. The king liked Daniel and wanted to save him. But the officials reminded him that “the law of the Medes and the Persians” could not be revoked. So he had to throw Daniel into the den of lions. But, as we know, God protected Daniel from the lions.

3. In Daniel Chapter 9, we see Daniel praying for his people. It was Daniel’s prayer that started the movement of God’s people from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Daniel was 87 years old now, and he was still studying God’s Word and fasting and praying, just like he did in his younger days (9:3). It is wonderful to see a man of God at the age of 87, still as much on fire as he was in his teenage years, studying the Word as much as he did in his youth, fasting and praying as much as he did in his younger days, and still being a servant of the people as he was when he was young. What a wonderful example Daniel is for all of us! Daniel didn’t criticise the other Jews. He didn’t say, “Lord, these Jews around me are all backsliders.” Instead he said, “Lord, WE have sinned, WE have rebelled, WE have refused to listen to Your messages. Lord, You are right and OUR faces are covered with shame” (9:7). We see there how Daniel identified himself with his backslidden fellow-Jews. He did not say, “They”, but “We”. That is how we need to pray too: “Lord, WE Christians have dishonoured Your Name in this land. We have not been the testimony for Christ that our country needed to see. We have failed. Lord, send us a revival. Lord, You are right, and our faces are covered with shame. Be merciful and forgive us. We have sinned against You.” He uses the words “Thy” and “Thine” ten times.

4. In Daniel Chapter 10, we read of Daniel praying for three weeks. During this time, a great struggle went on in the heavenlies. Daniel fasted partially during this time. He abstained from eating rich meats and ate simple food. At the end of the three weeks, an angel came to Daniel and told him he was “highly esteemed” by God (10:11). He also told him that he had been trying to come to him but was hindered by the evil spirit that rules over Persia for 21 days. From the moment that Daniel began to pray, his request had been heard. But it took 21 days for the answer to come (10:12, 13). God doesn’t answer our prayers immediately. But if we persist in prayer, the answer will definitely come.


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