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The Priority of Prayer

The Priority of Prayer

Read Daniel 2:1-23

In Daniel chapter 2, we find the story of Nebuchenezzar the king of the Babylonians have a recurring dream. He had it so frequently that it got to the point where he couldn’t even sleep at all anymore. So where does a pagan king go in times of trouble? To his magicians, enchanters, and astrologers of course. He tells them that he had a dream and it has troubled him but, he didn’t tell them what the dream was about or any of the details. When his wizards ask him to reveal the dream he tells them in verse 5 and 6:“My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap. However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.”After the king had said this, they tried their best to plead with the king to tell them the dream so they could give the interpretation. One of their excuses for not being able to tell the dream and its interpretation was that the gods didn't dwell with man and only they knew. The king’s word was set in concrete. He wanted his wise and powerful magicians to put their money where their mouth is. If they were so powerful and spiritual, surely they could do what he commanded them. He didn't want to tell them the dream lest they look to buy time and make something up. Seeing that they were unable to deliver, he started rounding up all the magicians and wise men of Babylon. Although Daniel and his friends were not part of the group of knuckle heads that angered the king, the captain of the guard came knocking. He was going to round them up like the rest. In wisdom, Daniel asked the king to give him and his buddies time and they will make both the dream and its interpretation known. After the king agrees, Daniel goes to his friends so they may seek God. They prayed and we are told that the Lord revealed the dream and its interpretation. Daniel’s very life was on the line. And the first thing he does is pray. He didn't tell his friends to think of something quick. They didn't try to run or hide, rather, they sought God’s mercy.  Here we see an example of wisdom from above vs earthly wisdom. (James 3:14-17)Daniel and his companions were confident that the Lord would answer their prayer.Instead of trying to handle it on their own like the those phony court jesters, they chose to rely on the Lord’s recourses.When we rely on Him we have all the resources He has. We are more than conquerers in Him, Romans 8:37.However, we as fallen humans have a tendency to try to work things out ourselves and use our own strength. Prayer may be a low priority on our lists or even our last resort. When we treat prayer as a last resort or think of it as not all that important, we don’t believe that our Father wants the best for us, or that He even cares about our situation, or that He can take care of us. The truth is, God always answers our prayers as believers. The problem is we don't always like the answer. He answers yes, no, or wait and see. We tend to do things in our own strength because we think we know what’s best all the time. But in reality, the Lord works all things out for our good (Romans 8:28) and for our sake (2 Corinthians 4:15-18). So no matter what the answer may be, we know that He will take care of us. After Daniel prays, he praises. Sometimes we tend to pray something quick and walk away. But here Daniel responds to God’s goodness with worship. In the same way when we start and end our prayers with praise, we keep an eternal perspective. Knowing that He is good and He is in control of everything, and He’s crazy about you!In the midst of confusion where there seems to be no answer to our prayers yet or we have an answer we don't like, we can realize that He does everything to our benefit and we are truly blessed in Him in good and bad times.So let’s get into the habit of starting and ending our prayers with praise because we can expect good things from our God. Let’s examine our prayer life in the weeks to come. Lets ask ourselves : Am I believing that God is in control?Am I believing that He wants to speak to me?Am I believing that He will do everything that’s best for me? Am I doing everything to make prayer my first priority? He is there 24/7. We can bring anything and everything to Him. He wants that from us (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). No matter our request, He longs for us to bring it before Him.  What a truly awesome privilege we have to take everything to Him in prayer.“Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” (Joseph Scriven: What a friend we have in Jesus, 1855 )

Insite: Daniel stops writing in Hebrew here in chapter 2 verse 4 and starts writing in Aramaic. Aramaic was the language left over from the Persian Empire and was at the time the proper language to speak in the king’s court and was considered the trade language of the time much like English is here in modern times. He continues this until chapter 7 verse 28 were he writes in Hebrew once again.

Mike Miller, CCNH


Are You Discouraged or Devoted

Are You Discouraged or Devoted?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult to you? If you haven’t, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all. Jesus says a tremendous amount to us that we listen to, but do not actually hear. And once we do hear Him, His words are harsh and unyielding.

Jesus did not show the least concern that this rich young ruler should do what He told him, nor did Jesus make any attempt to keep this man with Him. He simply said to him, “Sell all that you have…and come, follow Me.” Our Lord never pleaded with him; He never tried to lure him— He simply spoke the strictest words that human ears have ever heard, and then left him alone.

Have I ever heard Jesus say something difficult and unyielding to me? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened— not something I can explain for the sake of others, but something I have heard Him say directly to me? This man understood what Jesus said. He heard it clearly, realizing the full impact of its meaning, and it broke his heart. He did not go away as a defiant person, but as one who was sorrowful and discouraged. He had come to Jesus on fire with zeal and determination, but the words of Jesus simply froze him. Instead of producing enthusiastic devotion to Jesus, they produced heartbreaking discouragement. And Jesus did not go after him, but let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly well that once His word is truly heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. What is so terrible is that some of us prevent His words from bearing fruit in our present life. I wonder what we will say when we finally make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain— He will never throw our past failures back in our faces.

Julian Ortega
Assistant Pastor 
Calvary Chapel New Harvest