Have you ever encountered a problem in life and felt you instantly knew the answer, only to later realize you had missed some critical information? If you are like me, you know this feeling all to well. This can happen at any time and in any area of life if we aren’t intentional about gaining an external perspective on the issues that arise.
Recently, I heard an analogy about what happens if a pilot misreads his flight navigation instruments. If a pilot is one degree off, the plane and all those on board will be 92 feet off course after one mile of flight. After 60 miles the plane would be a full mile off course. On a flight from New York City to Los Angeles, a pilot that was just one degree off, would end up 40 miles away from LAX.
Alignment matters, and you can’t be aligned unless you have frequent feedback loops and reference points outside of yourself.
As humans, we are prone to circular logic and unchallenged self affirmation of our ideas. If we allow ourselves to get off course be a couple of degrees, we can miss the intended target. The ramifications of even the most minor oversight can be unintentionally catastrophic. Just as a pilot has flight instrumentation, a co-pilot and the air traffic control operators to help maintain accuracy, we need a constant stream of external perspective if we want to ensure that we don’t miss the mark.
Daniel set himself apart from all the other political counselors, by anchoring his response to each critical moment he faced by ensuring he had the best possible external feedback loops. This practice keep him 100% aligned and on course. The other advisors gave their best personal guesses in effort to assuage the king in the face of each crisis. Daniel in contrast, first withdrew and sought the Lord for wisdom and guidance each time the King ask for his perspective. Consider the following situations and Daniel’s response:
- Commanded to Break God’s Law – Daniel Followed God’s Law: Rather then eat the prescribed foods, Daniel requested permission to try God’s way (Daniel 1:8-19).
- Nebuchadnezzar’s 1st Dream – Daniel Prayed with Friends: Daniel and three friends petitioned God for perspective and wisdom. In the end, Daniel was the only advisor who had the accurate interpretation (Daniel 2:17-30).
- Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd Dream – Daniel Consulted God: The king identified that only Daniel could interpret because he was the one who sought the external perspective of God (Daniel 4:14-27).
- Handwriting on the Wall – Daniel Received Answer from God: Daniel refuses to take credit or accept a promise of reward, directing all glory and honor back to God (Daniel 5:13-28).
- Prayer to God Forbidden – Daniel Prayed Anyway: Under threat of death, Daniel prayed openly according to his regular practice (Daniel 6:1-10).
- Daniel’s First Vision – Daniel Kept the Matter in His Heart: We can assume from the pattern of prayer in his life, that his response was one of prayer (Daniel 7).
- Jerusalem to be Destroyed – Daniel Interceded with God: While reading the book of Jeremiah, Daniel discovers that Jerusalem is to be destroyed by God. He then engaged in intercession for the people (Daniel 9:1-19).
Throughout his life, when faced with the most challenging situations, Daniel sought the counsel of the Lord through the practice of daily prayer. Each time Daniel stood out from the cacophony of self promoting advisors and sycophants, by consistently talking with God and seeking His counsel first.
We can choose to stand out from the crowd by ensuring we discipline ourselves to integrate regular and scheduled times to talk with God about the circumstances of our lives. Here are three practices we should all employ to strengthen our prayer lives.
3 Prayer Strategies:
- Pray Daily – Like Daniel, who “got down on his knees three times a day and prayed… as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10), we should have a consistent and predictable rhythm of prayer in our daily routines.
- Pray with Friends – Daniel had a pattern of praying and fasting with friends (see Daniel 1 & 2). We are strengthen in the Lord when we pray together.
- Pray Before Decisions – As discussed above, prior every major decision in his life, Daniel intentionally sought God’s perspective prayer.
I you want to stand out from the crowd, make sure you talk it out with God regularly.