Thursday, November 22, 2012

Daniel's Prayer of Thanksgiving

We so often think of this time of year as a time to thank God for all His blessings – material things – our homes, our cars, our wealth relative to the rest of the world, our country, our freedom, food, etc. For these things we most certainly should be thankful, but Daniel’s prayer of thanksgiving teaches us the importance of being thankful for much more. It reveals a great deal about the nature and character of God – the things on which are based all His blessings to us. We need to be especially thankful all the time, not just at a special time of year.

Daniel’s prayer is found in the second chapter of his prophecy. King Nebuchadnezzar had his dream of the great image, and it troubled him, because he did not know what it meant. He called in all of his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans – in other words, his alleged “wise men.” Of course, these men were not truly wise at all. They had no connection with the God of heaven. It quickly became clear that Nebuchadnezzar did not really trust the wise men, because he demanded not only the interpretation but the content of the dream itself. When the wise men asked him to tell them the dream so they could interpret it, he accused them of stalling and threatened to destroy them if they could not tell him the dream, but he promised great rewards for anyone who could do so.

Their response rang quite true. Even these heathen “wise men” had enough sense to know that only God (or “the gods” as they put it) could do what the king was asking. The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, There is not a man on earth who can tell the king's matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh (Daniel 2:10-11, NKJV). 

Nevertheless, the king gave orders to have all of the wise men of Babylon destroyed, and this order included Daniel and his friends. When Daniel found out about the king’s command, he went to his house, along with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. There they prayed and asked for the answer so that they might not be destroyed with the rest of the “wise men” of Babylon.

Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king's demand" (Daniel 2:19-23, NKJV).

This prayer recognizes the superiority of the God of the universe, the God of the Bible, over all false gods that men have created. This we should be thankful for on a daily basis, because if we did not have such a God, He most certainly could not provide for us all of the other things we think about when we list the things for which we are thankful.

Notice the specific content of the prayer.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever… God is eternal. He is outside of time. He is not limited as we are. We need to see things in eternal perspective and not just temporal perspective. He is eternally worthy of our praise and worship.

…wisdom and might are His. God is all-knowing and all-powerful. All of our questions find their answers in Him, and He is the one who can do something about our situations. There is no situation too big for Him to handle.

He changes the times and the seasons… God controls His creation. This contrasts God with Babylonian fatalism based on astrology. They looked to the stars, but God made the stars. God has power and control over all those things men look to. In spite of the evidence, man has chosen to worship the created thing instead of the Creator.

Romans 1 tells us that …the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:18-20, 25, NKJV). 

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1, NKJV).

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? (Psalm 8:3-4, NKJV). 

He removes kings and raises up kings… God is sovereign. This statement contrasts a sovereign God with the weakness of Babylon deities. We sometimes wonder why God allows certain men – dictators, tyrants – to be in power. We can be confident that He has His reasons. And ultimately, all will bow to Him. 

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11, NKJV).

He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things… God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. The wise men of Babylon were not really wise men. They were not recipients of divine wisdom. Man is completely dependent on God for wisdom. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:22, NKJV). There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV).

He knows what is in the darkness… There is no hiding place from God. He knows all about us.

…light dwells with Him. He is the source of light, in contrast to the darkness. Only He can save human beings.

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king's demand. We ought to first and foremost thank God for all He is, and then it will be very natural to thank Him for all He provides.

Coming to grips with the very nature and character of God helps put all things into perspective. No matter what comes into our lives, we who know the Lord can accept it as from the hand of our Heavenly Father who knows all things, who is in control of all things, and who loves us with an everlasting love.

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