A few days ago I concluded my personal devotions in the Book of Joshua. He had the mammoth task of settling the Israelites in the Promised Land of Canaan. There were wars to fight and disputes to settle but by the time his death was insight, he had accomplished the task. The last two chapters deal with an overview of what took place over the years of occupation and settling in. Whilst providing this overview was for educational purposes, his intent was to remind the people of the goodness of God to His people. In the last chapter we read:
Jos 24:14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” 16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!”
Look at the flow here …
(1) Worship this God who did all these things. He is the true God.
(2) Discard all idols you inherited and secretly followed. The purpose was that only the true God must be the object of both worship and service. Remember Exodus 20:4-6? No idols!
(3) The terrible “but” … if you are uncertain, unconvinced and unintentional about the true God and prefer idols and pagan gods, the choice is yours. The word “undesirable” in verse 15 is a telling word. If you feel you get greater satisfaction out of idolatry and paganism … then chose not to follow the true God. If those false gods can do better for you than what the true God has done in settling you into the Promised Land and given you lands with readymade farms and wells with water, with the people of Canaan either killed off or subdued into servitude … then follow those gods. God does not force anyone. Where He calls and instructs people to hear and follow the Gospel, they chose their eternity. God does not force.
(4) Then there is another “but”, but a good one. As the head of his household (which would include blood family, male and female servants), Joshua says:
Jos 14:15 But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
There is absolutely no question in Joshua’s mind that His God is the only true God. As the family head he makes the religious (spiritual) decision:
Jos 14:15 we will serve the LORD.
That is exactly how it ought to be. Israel understood what He was saying and agreed:
Jos 14:16 “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!”
Now we fast forward to Daniel and find his religious position exactly the same as Joshua’s.
1) You will recall the satraps deceived the king into writing a law into place that could not be altered, even by him. The basics of the law was the no one in the kingdom may pray to a ‘god’. Only the king could do that. It was as if the tradition of deifying the king was restored with him being consider the son of a deity. Remember these satraps wanted Daniel’s fall from grace. They could not achieve this by criticizing his work because that was faultless … so they moved closer to home … to his religion … to the God he worshipped.
2) Daniel intentionally worshipped the true God.
Da 6:10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
As you read this verse you get the impression that Daniel was ostentatious, vindictive or rebellious. Yet the practice of the Jew would be to pray three times a day.
Ps 55:17 Evening, morning and noon cry out in distress, and he hears my voice
There is no directive in the New Testament that believers must pray three times a day … however … from the following passages we come to understand that believers are always in prayer.
Eph 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests;
1Th 3:10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith;
1Th 5:17 pray continually
2Th 1:11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you.
This does not mean there is no need for a church prayer meeting and specific personal prayer times, say in the morning and night, but it does imply that as Christians we are people of prayer and because things happen throughout the day and even the night that requires prayer, we pray. A good friend once said to me as we spoke about prayer … “I’m always in prayer”. What he meant was that throughout the day he was conversing with God about many things. May I suggest to you that the greatest weakness in the Church today is a lack of prayer? Pray that Church Prayer Meetings are revived for it is here that true spiritual revival starts. Once this happens, everything else in the church will fall into place. Jews would normally go to the top of the house that had an open widow (or an opening in the roof) where they would place their prayer mat facing Jerusalem. This practice seems to have started when Solomon dedicated the Temple. See:
1Ki 8:33 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple …
1Ki 8:35 … When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them.”
Daniel showed his unforced, non-mechanical passion to speak to God. Whether we kneel, stand or sit in prayer, the attitude of the heart is important so that praying is not a ritual. A lesson to learn is that thanksgiving and gratitude starts with God
Da 6:10 “giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before”.
In forced exile Daniel was able to thank God, as before. That was prayer culture. It ought to be ours for such a great salvation through Jesus Christ!
Eph 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, help me to be thankful to You for my many blessings in Jesus. Amen.