The Importance of Prayer

During the week of March 22-29, 2015, Shepherding All God’s Creatures hosted a prayer event called “Bring the ‘Walls of Jericho’ – All Forms of Animal Exploitation – Down”.  Also, in Roslyne’s latest post, Why Have Animal Services, Parts One and Two, she echoed the sentiment in The March Around Jericho post about the importance of prayer (see this list in Part Two as to Why Pray for Animals).

In the spirit of this event and Roslyne’s latest posts, using the book of Daniel, we’ll discuss the importance of prayer in animal advocacy for welfarists.

The-Taking-of-Jericho-James-Tissot-1899 Free Image from http://christimages.org/bible-stories/walls-of-jericho.html

The-Taking-of-Jericho-James-Tissot-1899
Free Image from Christimages.org

The following is taken in part from “Book of Daniel, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”:

The book of Daniel is considered an Apocalypse.  Daniel falls into two halves, chapters 1–6 containing six tales of Jewish heroism set in the Babylonian court, and chapters 7–12 containing four apocalyptic visions.

The story begins with a brief reference to king Nebuchadnezzar robbing the Jerusalem Temple (Solomon’s Temple) and carrying its treasures back to Babylon. It goes on to describe how some young members of the Judean nobility, including Daniel and his three companions, are inducted into the king’s service. Daniel and his companions are given Babylonian names, but refuse to be ‘defiled’ by the royal provisions of meat and wine.

As it was with the Jewish peoples of that day, Daniel and his friends would have adhered to a kosher diet.  They requested of Ashpenaz permission to eat vegetables and drink water because the meat provided by the king was unclean.  “Meat” during this period simply means “food.”  Likely, if someone meant what we today call meat, one would have said, “flesh.”  Quote:  “The king’s food was not kosher, and so the young men asked for stuff that obviously was not tainted. Their balanced (and kosher) diet brought them good health and God’s blessings (it’s easier to be healthy with a good balance of grains and legumes than it is with a diet of meat, anyway).” 

Today, were we thinking as the people did during the time period of Daniel, and were we to apply this thinking to our food system, likely, factory farmed food of ANY kind, and in all probability animal foods of any kind including the products of animals (dairy, eggs, etc.) derived from our systems of animal confinement, would not be considered “kosher”, and in fact would likely warrant the term an “abomination.”  Like Daniel, Christians of today would (and should) refuse to be ‘defiled‘ by our food system.

The book of Daniel’s message is that just as the God of Israel saved Daniel and his friends from their enemies, so he would save all of Israel in their present oppression.  Chapter 9 includes a lengthy prayer by Daniel in which he pleads for God to restore Jerusalem and its temple.

 Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9:

So I set my face toward the Lord God, to seek him by prayer and petition, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. (Daniel 9:3)

…while I was still speaking in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the previous vision, being very weary, touched me at about the time of the evening sacrifice. (Daniel 9:21)

Daniel set his face towards the Lord and was determined to seek and gain his objective by prayer and supplication (verse 3).  A major key is that Daniel was set on gaining the Lord’s objective.  He also cried out to the Lord with earnestness (serious in intention, purpose, or effort), bringing his own concerns and petitions to the Lord:

“Daniel “wore the Lord out” with the spiritual intensity of his prayer and supplication,” an insightful notation from Bible Study Courses, Online Guides (quotes from the guide ‘Daniel 9:1-27 Exploring the Passage’ used throughout this post). “Gabriel, being very weary,” came near to Daniel. The angel Gabriel is here used to represent the Lord Himself; the point is not that the Lord actually becomes physically weary and exhausted, but rather what is occurring here is the very thing commanded by the Lord in Isaiah 62:6-7, “I have posted watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who are Jehovah’s palace recorders, give yourselves no rest, (7) and give him (the Lord) no rest, until he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of all the earth.”

God’s people are set as “watchmen….never to be silent day or night.”  We are to “give [ourselves] no rest” AND give him – the Lord – no rest until the Lord establishes Jerusalem, his Kingdom on earth.  This strongly suggests that our relationship with the Lord is an interactive one – the Lord influences us, and we also influence Him in prayer.  Greg Boyd, in Prayer Matters, says:  “Preserving this earth as the Kingdom of God was humanity’s original mandate. As a race and individually, we blew it. But now, through the work of Christ and the ongoing operation of the Holy Spirit, God is reinstating humans who align themselves with Christ to reclaim this planet and their rightful place as God’s viceroys on it. Advancing the domain of God’s reign is thus what followers of Jesus are to live for.”

Daniel speaks to the Lord on behalf of his people, Israel, and for himself:

He is “perfectly honest with God about the condition of Israel, and about his own condition before God. He confesses their sinfulness (what keeps them separated from God – their idolatresses, gluttony, greed, and so on) and his own sinfulness (verses 5-7)”:

(5)…we have sinned, we have gone astray, we have done wicked things, and we have rebelled; we have turned away from your commandments and your ordinances. (6) Neither have we listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and to all the people of the land. (7) O Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but for us there is shame on our faces to this very day—to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, both those who are near as well as those who are far away, scattered through all the countries where you have driven them because of their trespass that they have committed against you. (Daniel 9:5-7)

O my God, incline your ear, and hear; open your eyes and look upon our desolations—the city that bears your name! We do not present our petitions to you on the basis of our righteousness, but on the basis of your great mercies. (Daniel 9:18)

Daniel appeals to the Lord for His mercy (verse 18).  From the Lord’s response to Daniel’s prayer, we learn that the man who offers such a prayer is greatly loved by God and his prayer is effective (verse 23).

As we also see, because of our inclinations to choose to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, judging for ourselves what is good and right, we pit ourselves against one another in wars and injustices of all kinds; we also hold the animal kingdom hostage and misuse God’s word, bending allowances he has given us to use the animal kingdom to suit our own wills for them.  We no longer heed  Proverbs 12 10:  “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.”  Or other scripture:  “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed” (Proverbs 31 v 8).  As Christians, the primary function of being Christian is our outrageous love toward one another AND toward the animal kingdom (“Above all, put on love.”  Col 3:14).  The covenant God made is with all living creatures; we are ALL that for which he died to redeem (Gen 9:15; Col 1:20).

So when we pray, we can pray as Daniel did:  O my God, incline your ear, and hear; open your eyes and look upon our desolationsWe … present our petitions to you [NOT] on the basis of our righteousness, but on the basis of your great mercies.  We ask the Lord to look on what we’ve done to the animal kingdom (though he sees all and “nothing is hidden from his sight” – Heb 4:13; Prov 5:21 – praise God!).  We petition him to act for the city that bears [his] name sake, or another way of saying it – for his character’s sake, that we, the people who bears his name, would not continue to blaspheme and degrade his character, but rather to put on display his true character of complete love toward one another and the animal kingdom.  For they will know we are Christians by our LOVE.

Daniel asks the Lord:

O Lord, in keeping with all your righteousness, let your anger and your wrath be turned away from your city, Jerusalem, your holy mountain; because our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers, have caused Jerusalem and your people to become an object of scorn to all those around us. (17) Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayers of your servant, listen to his petitions; for the Lord’s sake, cause your face to shine upon your sanctuary that now lies desolate.

And again, (18) O my God, incline your ear, and hear; open your eyes and look upon our desolations—the city that bears your name! We do not present our petitions to you on the basis of our righteousness, but on the basis of your great mercies. (Daniel 9:16-18)

We’ll continue with Part Two of this post next week and finish up this short study on Daniel’s prayer.  In the meantime, think on how you might petition the Lord to move in this world on behalf of his animal kingdom.  Think about what Daniel is asking the Lord in the passages above.

Also, please take a look at the new pages we’ve added to the blog, namely for this posts purpose, the “Prayer List.”  Also, have a look at the page “Fasting Outline“.  Fasting is a powerful tool in petitioning and influencing the Lord.  It is a powerful way to engage in some practices that are also good for us, as well, in keeping our lives set apart for the Lord and in fulfilling the purposes he has for us in bringing about his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Thank you for reading and following our blog!  Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.  Tell us what you think.  We pray this message is a blessing to you!  ~Kathy

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