At the start of this year I was reading through Daniel. Towards the end of the book Daniel is praying for the nation of Israel. I was struck by the humility with which he prayed, identifying himself completely with the failings and the sufferings of his people.
Daniel was a highly gifted young man who was specially selected to be part of the court of the Babylonian king where he rose to prominence. God had spoken to him in many wonderful ways; he had spent a night in a lions’ den; his three friends, who he had mentored, had been thrown into a furnace and survived.
But as I read on, the words highlighted below in Chapter 10 of caught my attention:
10…“Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.”…
12 Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven…”
Hopefully many of you have heard me say that God has no favourites. He loves the whole human race equally; Jesus died for every single person; his justice is completely impartial; his unfailing loving kindness is poured out on all he has created.
However, in the words “You are very precious to God” I get the sense of a special connection and intimacy.
I have noticed other times in the Bible where God indicates he would be especially attentive to the prayers of certain people. For example in Jeremiah Chapter 15, verse 1 it says:
Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them.
In my last blog I talked about sin and the importance of walking correctly with our God so that we can climb the hill of the Lord.
I had formed the view that seeking after righteousness was the key to walking close to God. This seemed to be the sense of one of my favourite verses, James 5, vs. 16:
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
So was it just the righteousness of Daniel, Moses and Samuel that meant the Lord especially listened to their prayers?
I then remembered that Moses was the humblest man on earth, Numbers 12 vs 3
3 (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)
It seems that Samuel was also a humble person. Maybe their humility had something to do with why God listened to them – not just because of their efforts to walk rightly.
As I carried on reading the prophets, I came to Micah 6 vs 8:
No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
As well as doing what is right, walking humbly is something God also requires of us.
I have often skipped over the word humble, not really feeling that it was something worth dwelling on. I am aware that pride is the antithesis of humility but I think I had come to the conclusion that some sort of neutral position between pride and humility was reasonable enough.
Daniel prayed for understanding and humbled himself. What does it mean to ‘humble yourself’?
I am surprised that I really don’t have any idea – but I can sense that it is not something that is easy or comfortable to do. Maybe the starting point is to pray for understanding.
The observant amongst you will have noticed God stated another requirement of us in Micah, ‘to love mercy’.
Looks like I have the theme for my next blog!
Mike Wendes, February 2019