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What Does God Say When
People Pray? (Part 4)
If you had a pressing problem, who would you ask to pray for you? Who
would you turn to for help?
The other day, I got an email from a stranger with the heading, "Urgent
prayer request." I didn't know how the person got my email address, but
that didn't matter to me. If he had an urgent prayer request, I felt obligated
to open the email and to pray for him. Wouldn't you? If someone asks you
to pray for them, don't you want to intercede on their behalf?
When I read the email, I became incensed. The email wasn't a real prayer
request, it was asking for me to pray that he would get 1000 investors
to help underwrite a software venture he was launching. And of course,
he included a place I could write if I wanted to become an investor.
I felt betrayed. He used a request for prayer as a Trojan horse for
an investment scheme. Prayer is sacred, and our prayer requests should
be sincere. I was offended.
This guy didn't want my prayers, he wanted my money. (Fresh Illustrations
You know, prayer requests come with different levels of concern. Sometimes
people will ask you to pray about something because they just want you
to know about it and wouldn't mind if you prayed. Sometimes people share
gossip with you and masquerade it as a prayer request. But sometimes people
come to you with a heartfelt prayer need.
Who do you turn to when you need someone to pray for you? Are you the
kind of person people turn to when they need prayer? Are you the kind of
person that people come to when they have problems?
In Daniel 4:18 the King turned to Daniel with a need. "'O Belteshazzar,
(Daniel's Babylonian name) that was the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar,
had. Now tell me what it means, for no one else can help me. All the wisest
men of my kingdom have failed me. But you can tell me because the spirit
of the holy gods is in you.'" (NIV)
King Nebuchadnezzar's dreams plagued him to the point he turned to his
advisors for help, when they couldn't help, he turned to Daniel.
What are the characteristics of people that make you trust them enough
that you will turn to them with your prayer concerns? Nebuchadnezzar turned
to Daniel because "the spirit of the holy gods is in [him]."
When you are looking for prayer support, do you want people who will
seek God with all their heart? People like Jeremiah 29:12-13 talks about.
"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen
to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your
Do you want people who are willing to wait upon God? People like David,
"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry."
(Psalm 40:1 NIV)
Are you more likely to turn to someone who is unrighteous or righteous?
Psalm 34:15 says, "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears
are attentive to their cry;"
James 5:16 affirms the power of a righteous man's prayer, it says, "The
prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
Are you likely to ask someone to pray for you, who doesn't keep God's
commandments or someone who does keep God's commandments? Who do you think
God will likely listen to, someone who keeps His commandments or someone
who doesn't? John wrote, "Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because
we obey his commands and do what pleases him." (1 John 3:21-12 NIV)
Would you ask someone who has a close relationship with the Lord, or
would you ask someone whose relationship seems superficial? Personally,
I'd ask someone who abides in Christ. John 15:7 says, "If you remain in
me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given
One more question, are you more likely to turn to a humble person or
one filled with pride? One of my favorite verses on prayer is 2 Chron.
7:14, it says, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves
and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I
hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Would you say these verses I just read describe Daniel? Do they describe
anybody you know? Do they describe you?
Would you say people who met these qualifications-people who seek the
Lord and are willing to wait on Him, people who keep His commandments,
are close to Him and have a humble spirit, would they live a easier life
than those who don't meet these qualifications?
Another way to ask the question is, would you like to be the kind of
person whose prayers are answered? On the surface, most of us would say
yes, I want my prayers answered. I want to be a prayer warrior. I want
to be the kind of person who others come to with their prayer concerns.
What about Daniel, what was his life like?
Daniel was a man of prayer. Nothing could detour him from his daily
appointments with God. Because of jealousy, Daniel's peer convinced the
king to pass a decree against praying to anyone but the King. They make
their argument in Daniel 6:7. "The royal administrators, prefects, satraps,
advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict
and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the
next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions'
The king agreed. Daniel didn't.
"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.  Then these men went as a group and found
Daniel praying and asking God for help.  So they went to the king and
spoke to him about his royal decree: "Did you not publish a decree that
during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to
you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?"
The king answered, "The decree stands--in accordance with the laws of
the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed."
 Then they said to the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from
Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing.
He still prays three times a day." (Daniel 6:10-13 NIV)
Daniel wouldn't stop praying, even under the threat of the lions' den.
His peers caught him in the very act of praying and forced the king to
carry out the decree. Why would Daniel continue to pray even when it could
mean it would destroy his life?
Simple. Prayer isn't about the person praying. It is about the Kingdom.
We don't pray so our life will be easier, better or enriched. We pray because
we are compelled to reach through our prayers to the throne of God to impact
The Scripture doesn't record the content of Daniel's prayer when he
continued to pray "three times a day." What would you have prayed? For
me it probably would have had something to do with not wanting to spend
the night as dinner for the lions. Our tendency, when faced with difficult
situations is to ask God to take it away. It is different with Christians
who are under persecution, they tend to ask for the strength to go through
Phillip Yancy, in the February 7, 2001 Christianity Today, writes about
the response of Christians in Malaysia and Indonesia to their persecution.
The Christians in Malaysia consider themselves blessed because all they
have to endure is restrictions on their Christian activities, while in
Indonesia the persecutors are killing Christians. In Indonesia, the Christians
consider themselves blessed because they can still publish the gospel,
unlike the believers in Malaysia even though they face martyrdom for their
Christian activities. (Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
People who are the kind of people that others depend on to pray, often
have important things to pray about, because of the depth of their faith
and the direction of their life. Things like, how to continue their Christian
activities or publish the Scripture without it being hazardous to their
health, and the courage to do it when it is. Or things like how to survive
a night with the lions.
The morning after the King threw Daniel into the Lions' Den he ran to
it to see if Daniel survived: "And when he came to the den, he cried with
a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel,
O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually,
able to deliver thee from the lions?" Daniel 6:20 [KJV]
He had. God shut the mouth of the lions, he answered their prayer, but
Daniel still had to spend a night sleeping with deadly beasts. What does
God say when people pray. Sometimes He says, you have to go to the Lions'
Den, but I'll be with you when you do.