I've been leading a small group in the book of Daniel. It's more than the lions and the furnace and a bunch of dreams. I've gotten a ton out of it. But the big picture came to me in chapter 9. You know all the stories, but I'll just remind you of them.
It starts out: I, Daniel, was studying the writings of the prophets. I learned from the word of the LORD, as recorded by Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years.
First off, it's cool that Daniel was reading Jeremiah 25.
In chapter 1, Daniel's hauled off into captivity, having believed in a god who promised David an eternal dynasty hundreds of years ago, but he still abides by that god's laws and God proves faithful. God is present.
In chapter 2, Daniel interprets the king's dream by God-given insight. (We know what Dan didn't: it comes true.) God knows all. God is powerful.
In chapter 3, Daniel's friends end up burning alive and Jesus shows up. God is powerful and present.
In chapter 4, Daniel interprets the dream of the king, and, lo and behold, it comes true in Daniel's lifetime. God knows all.
In chapter 5, Daniel reads the writing on the wall for the king; it's prophetic, and it comes to pass. God knows all and is powerful to make it happen.
In chapter 6, the lions. Daniel escapes despite the powerlessness of the king to halt his sentence and the power of Daniel's enemies to enforce it. God proves powerful.
In chapters 7 & 8, more visions and interpretation. And again, we have the advantage of knowing that it was all true. Did Daniel doubt it? Of course not, in the 70 years in Babylon, God proved he was present, powerful, and knowledgeable.
Then, in chapter 9, Daniel does the math. Jeremiah's prophecy, in the power, presence, and knowledge of God, reveals that God is about to releave the captives from Babylon. So what does Daniel do?
So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I wore rough sackcloth and sprinkled myself with ashes
Daniel humbles himself and prays. But Daniel knows God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, and that God is faithful. Basically, what God said he would do, he'll do. Who needs Daniel to pray?
That's the question the we're faced with. Not much has changed. Daniel's a hard-line TULIP pusher (i.e. Calvinist), but he's on his face in burlap clothing and chimney soot.
I have my thoughts on why pray, but they're nothing deep or profound. Just simple and pretty straightforward. But I offer my opinion too much, so I'll just leave it at that.