Archive for September 5th, 2007

If I can’t have it, then you can’t have it either!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Today’s scripture: Daniel 6:1-9 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Mark Shoup):

After reading this passage, it is hard not to focus on the actions of of the Presidents and Vice Presidents that King Darius had appointed to manage his Kingdom. Their reaction to finding out that King Darius planned to make Daniel the CEO of the Kingdom was that if they couldn’t have that position, then they were going to do what they could to make sure Daniel didn’t get it either.

Such a typical human response that, sad to say, goes on even to this day. We only need watch about five minutes of whatever “reality television” program is popular at any given time to see this type of backbiting behavior going on.

However, what strikes me as unusual about this situation is what they get King Darius to agree to. They want to make it so that no one but the king can pray — to God or man — for a period of 30 days. Now, the first thing I want to know is “what advantage can come of this?” Why would the king ever agree to something like this? I suppose that the thinking was that without all the prayers and “background noise” of everybody else asking God for things, God would be forced to hear King Darius’ prayers.

I wonder if that is how we view prayer. Do we use “tricks” to get God to hear us — tricks like using big words, flowery language, constant repetition, or even bargaining (God, if you do this, I promise I’ll do that…)? I come from a fundamentalist background where if you needed something, you would put it on the “prayer chain” and get the whole Church to pray for it. I think my mom probably still has about 100 people praying for me to be “released from the clutches of homosexuality!”

Now, this is not to say that praying with other people is wrong. I think there is great comfort and the power of the Holy Spirit when people are united in prayer. But God is not hard of hearing and more voices do not hedge your chances of being heard.

I think the way Jesus described prayer in his Sermon on the Mount is the best way. Just go to a quiet place away from distraction and other people and come to God in honest and humble prayer. God will hear you. You don’t need any gimmicks.

Thought for the day: God — can we talk?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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