Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 21
Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent
“The idol of our egos”
Today’s Daniel reading can really be found as a separate Apocryphal book called “Song of the Three Young Men.” But why read the Apocrypha? The Apocrypha has an interesting importance in Anglicanism. The Book of Common Prayer says that the Apocrypha is not for matters of doctrine but instructs us in morals and inspires us with faithful exemplars. So, today’s Daniel reading is about learning to pray like Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, (Daniel’s compatriots) whom we commonly remember as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan 1:6-7). They were given a choice by the idolatrous King Nebuchadnezzar: worship his idol, or be thrown into a fiery furnace. They realize however that the real choice is between idolatry and eternal death, or holiness, and a temporary furnace. They choose the latter (Dan 3:1-30). But, while in the furnace, “Azariah stood still in the fire and prayed aloud,” and God delivers them from the power of idols! Today, we don’t really have to worry about idolatrous statues. Rather, the idol we should be concerned about is our ego and its desire to displace Jesus as the Lord of our hearts. For example, in today’s Matthew reading, it’s the slave’s ego that prevents him from forgiving a tiny debt, even though he had been forgiven a debt six hundred thousand times bigger (Mt 18:24, 28)! It’s our own egos that prevent us from forgiving others, even though God has forgiven all our sins—past, present, and future. But perhaps, like Azariah, Hananiah, and Mishael, we need to pray to overcome the power of the idol of our egos, so that we can follow Christ in humility. We need to put Christ back on the throne of our hearts, so that we can forgive others, as we have been forgiven.
O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given a hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.