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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Counter-Culture Religion (Daniel 1:8)

 "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way."

What caused Daniel, as a teen-age boy to stand by his convictions when it would have been easier to fall in with Babylonian culture? Daniel came from Judah, more than likely personally knew Jeremiah, and was heavily influenced by such a fearless prophet. He did not hesitate to negotiate with the chief official over the menu set before them. Many Baptist teen-age boys today would jump at the chance to drink and would blame their behavior on their job requirements. Not Daniel.

Daniel's appeal to the official provided a foundation for the remainder of his sixty-plus years in Babylon. He would later wind up in a lion's den because he refused to bow down to Nebuchadezzar's image. So back to our original question: what causes a person to develop counter-cultural convictions?

That Daniel was a young man of prayer is obvious when we later see Daniel appeal to his friends to join him in prayer for wisdom so that he would be able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Daniel 6:10 also records Daniel as being a man who prayed three times a day "as was his custom since early days" (NKJV). What drives Daniel's praying?

People pray because they believe God can and will do great things on behalf of those who trust Him.
  • People pray because they know their own powerlessness.
  • People pray because circumstances are beyond their power or understanding.
  • People pray in response to promises given by God.
  • People pray because they need God's perspective.
  • People pray because they've run out of other options.
What are some other reasons why people pray? And, why don't people pray? At the heart of prayerlessness lies self-sufficiency. We believe that we don't need God. We may not actually verbalize those very words but our prayerlessness demonstrates our self-sufficiency.

Daniel prayed because he feared God. He prayed because he believed that his place within Nebuchadnezzar's court was providential. He knew that he didn't want to miss God's purpose for his life. He knew that "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). Daniel prayed because he knew the Book of the Law and had heard Jeremiah's prophecies regarding the extent of the captivity, the seventy years Israel would spend in Babylon. He prayed because he understood that God's promises to Abraham had yet to be fulfilled. He prayed because he knew that God always keeps His promises. True prayer always flows from a correct belief system.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Jeremiah 46:1-28
  • During Israel's history she frequently relied upon Egypt for protection. What does Jeremiah prophesy about Egypt that should discourage Israel from trusting in Egypt?
  • What does Jeremiah prophesy regarding Nebuchadnezzar?
Daniel 1:3-2:49
  • What would prevent any teen-age boy living in a strange land from compromising his beliefs? What was Daniel's view of God?
  • What purpose does Nebuchadnezzar's dream serve in Nebuchadnezzar's life? In Daniel's life?
  • As a result of his dream what does Nebuchadnezzar come to understand about God?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the LORD to reveal to you the reason behind your prayerlessness.