Christians love to tell and retell stories about prayer in hard times: Corrie ten Boom praying in the Nazi concentration camp, Darlene Deibler Rose praying in a Japanese prison camp, Amy Carmichael praying in the spiritual darkness of India. These favorite narratives remind us that God faithfully hears and answers the desperate cries of His children.
Today’s passage is another such story, this time from the inspired Word of God. In it, Daniel and his three friends find themselves in a perilous situation. Separated from their godly families, renamed, educated in pagan culture, and listed on the king’s roster of sorcerers and magicians, these four were continually in danger of being absorbed into the godless practices of Babylon (see Daniel 1). But when Daniel was asked by the king to interpret a dream he hadn’t even heard, his immediate response was clearly countercultural: he organized a prayer meeting. While the king’s so-called wise men demonstrated their ignorance, the Jewish teenagers sought the help of the only wise God.
Perhaps even more remarkable than the teens’ inclination to pray together for help is their immediate response of thanksgiving when God answered them (vv. 19–23). The impatient king was waiting and the life of every wise man—including Daniel—was under a death sentence, but the four young men chose to deal with the most urgent matter first: they prayed together. As strangers in a strange land, they had neither parents nor priests to remind them to develop godly habits, but their sincere faith drew them to communion with their God.
God’s people in exile always find themselves on their knees. This practice sets them apart from the world and draws them near to the God who hears.