I once heard a church leader say, "God only hears the prayers of the saved and the request of the unsaved for their salvation from sin." I personally and respectfully disagreed then and still do, but understood how he'd come to his conclusions based upon his selection of and understanding of Scripture. Recently this discussion was raised again in my Sunday morning Bible study class, where we spent several weeks examining the Lord's Prayer as our model for how we talk to God. We came to a general conclusion that God hears the prayers of all people regardless of their "status" with him, but used examples from our own experience and awareness more than Scripture to back up that concept. So, with that mulling around in my brain, I was intrigued to read in Daniel 6 this morning.
After Daniel's been called on the carpet for worshiping God instead of Darius, the pagan king of the Medes and Persians, the king "was very angry with himself for signing the law" [that said he should be worshiped for 30 days]. So angry that he spent a "day looking for a way to get Daniel out of [the] predicament." Unable to find a solution, he finally relents and gives the order for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the lions' den, but as he does, he says to Daniel, "May your God, whom you worship continually, rescue you." Now, I wouldn't call that a prayer, because it was a comment of hope addressed to a man in a situation of great desperation, but it certainly expressed the cry of his heart. The king clearly had a soft spot for Daniel and hated to see this exacting of justice served, and he was deeply grieved. Verse 18 says he didn't eat, refused his usual entertainment (guess he wasn't in the mood for ESPN) and couldn't sleep at all that night. Pretty serious responses from a guy who's basically in charge of the whole known world at the time.
But here's what caught my attention: there's no mention in that chapter of Daniel praying for deliverance from the lions' den. Now, I'm not foolish or silly enough to believe Daniel wasn't praying fervently as he stood in the midst of those lions. After all, a guy who's courageous enough to pray to God with his windows open, when he can be seen and caught, isn't going to have any qualms about praying when he's likely to be supper for some carnivores. But I'm not brave enough to inject into scripture or assume that he definitely was praying to get out of there alive. God's angel came to shut the lions' mouths, Daniel said, because he was innocent in God's sight, not because he'd begged and pleaded for liberation.
The pagan king, however, made his hope and heart-cry quite clear as he was tossing Daniel into the den. So for those who say God only listens to the prayers of the saved, I guess God just happened to overhear.
A Little Too Early
2 days ago