What Is The Prayer of Azariah and The Song of the Three Jews About — Praying and Singing Even in the Threat of Death

what-is-prayer-about

There once was a cranky king who got angry with three men, and he tried to have them burned alive. That cranky king was Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and the three men were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They were Jews. Nebuchadnezzar had conquered the kingdom of Judah and brought many captives from there back with him to Babylon.

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were three of those captives, and they were appointed to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. Sure, it can be prestigious to serve a king, but it’s not always the safest place to be — especially with a king known for his fiery temper.

What Is “The Prayer of Azariah and The Song of the Three Jews” about? It’s an example of praying and singing even in the threat of death.

What Is Prayer About?

Prayer admits that there is more to life than us humans. There is something higher. We came from somewhere and more specifically, we came from someone. We have a Creator that we can talk to. And we are made in that Creator’s image. What does that mean? Among other things, it means that we are also creators. Life is a constant act of creation. Creation was not a one-time thing. It keeps happening.

In that sense, one way we can refer to God is as the prime Creator, the original, the source from which all else has come. Prayer is a method that we can use to communicate with God. Sometimes, we can use prayer to make requests. Sometimes, we can use prayer to give thanks and express our gratitude for the countless blessings that we always have, whether we’re aware of our great wealth or not.

It can be through the act of giving thanks that we are given more to be thankful for.

Granted, not all prayers are answered. Or at least, not all prayers are answered in the extremely specific and narrow ways in which we humans would prefer.

I’ve prayed for people to be healed of their illnesses and their diseases. Multiple of those people died within a short period of time. My heart broke. They were kind, loving people. My life was brighter because they had been a part of it. I wondered, “Why couldn’t they stay around longer? Why couldn’t they experience more of life without having to go through pain?”

Little did I realize at the time that the answers were contained in my questions. My doubts piled up until I couldn’t ignore them any more. I gave up on prayer, and I gave up on God.

I stayed like that for many years. I got on with life. Gone was the familiarity of God’s presence. Gone was the faith of my childhood. Of course, I had to come up with substitutes. And not all of them were safe. But in the midst of all that darkness and doubt, I met my ex-wife. She wasn’t one for prayer or God either, so that was a major thing we had in common. We accepted each other as we were. We had more acceptance with each other than we had ever had with anyone else.

More years went by. Life was going great. Or so I thought. Eight years had passed since I had given up on God, but God hadn’t given up on me. He hadn’t forgotten about me. Eight is considered a number of new beginnings. Well, new beginnings can sometimes require the end of something else. Sometimes, something has to end to make room for something new.

When I thought I was losing or already had lost everything, my faith reactivated. I returned to prayer, and my love for God returned as well.

I was vulnerable with my ex-wife about how I had changed. One of the major things we used to have in common could no longer connect us. I thought that would be the end of things, but our marriage became stronger than ever. It was lovely to experience all that. My prayers had been answered. And at the same time, I had been prepared for whatever could have happened. Break up or marriage renewal.

The alternative still came to pass, so I got to experience both. We broke up a year later. I treasure the additional year that we had. We each got to go in our own separate directions, having been richer for the experience of being together.

Even in the appearance of a marriage ending and even in the threat of death, there can always be reason to pray and to sing.

What Is Singing About?

More than a year after my ex-wife and I broke up, I found myself in my next long-term relationship. And guess what?

I got creating. I got living up to being made (created) in the image of my Creator. My girlfriend came up with the name for this website. I checked and saw that GiantsWithin.com was available, and I got started on the creative outlet that I had been looking for my whole life. I’ve shared song lyrics, reviews, life experiences, quotes, and whatever else I’ve been able to. It’s been twenty-one months since I started this website, and I continue to be extremely grateful for it.

My girlfriend and I have travelled in Canada and to the United States, Portugal, and Spain. We have had countless long conversations, which continue to this day. Early on into our relationship, I got writing lyrics for entire songs. Before that, I tended to only write some stray lyrics here and there. I’ve written several dozen songs, many of which I have not yet shared on this website.

I really enjoy singing and improvising songs, whether or not I type or record those lyrics. I’ve estimated that I keep track of perhaps 3% of the lyrics that I come up with. Singing and writing lyrics, along with prayer, have proven to be excellent treatments for depression. I highly, highly recommend participating in any of those activities — or all of them. It depends on what you’re willing to do for your own health and enjoyment.

Who knows? You might even find that prayer and singing will save your life.

What Is “The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews” About?

“The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews” gives some more detail to what happened to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah during King Nebuchadnezzar’s attempt to burn them alive. It takes place between Daniel 3:21 and 3:26 when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, during one of his fiery tempers, had Daniel’s three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah thrown into a fiery furnace. Daniel’s three friends are better known by their Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, but I will continue referring to them by their original names.

Chapter 3 in the book of Daniel is the only chapter in the whole book where Daniel is not mentioned. That’s understandable. It was his friends’ time to shine. Daniel, like his friends, was taken by King Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, away from his homeland of the kingdom of Judah. I’ll go more into Daniel’s absence from chapter 3 later.

King Nebuchadnezzar had a massive ego. One example of his massive ego was the time when he had a gold statue made in his image. The statue was ninety feet tall and nine feet wide. What was the purpose of this statue?

Nebuchadnezzar wanted everyone to bow down and worship the statue. Since the statue looked like him, Nebuchadnezzar essentially wanted everyone to bow down and worship him. Why did he get angry with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah?

Simple. They refused to do what he wanted. They refused to bow down. They refused to submit. And the consequence for that refusal was to be thrown into a burning, fiery furnace. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were thrown into that furnace. They were tied up. The fire burned their bonds,  but it didn’t burn them. They stood up in the fire, and that’s where “The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews” starts…

The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews

1:1 Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah stood up and walked in the fire, praising and blessing God.

1:2 Then Azariah prayed in this manner in the fire,

1:3 “Blessed are you, God of our fathers. You are worthy to be praised and glorified forevermore.

1:4 You are righteous in all the things you have done to us. All your works are true, all your ways are right, and all your judgments are truth.

1:5 In all the things you have brought upon us and upon the holy city of our fathers, Jerusalem, you have delivered true judgment. According to truth and judgment, you brought all these things upon us because of our wickedness.

1:6 For we have committed wrongdoing in departing from you.

1:7 In all things, we have not kept your commandments or done as you commanded us, that we might be blessed.

1:8 All you have brought upon us and done to us, you have done in true judgment.

1:9 You delivered us into the hands of lawless enemies, to an unjust king, and the most wicked in all the world.

1:10 We have become a shame to your servants and to those who worship you.

1:11 You have not completely delivered us up, for your sake, neither have you cancelled your covenant with us.

1:12 You have not caused your mercy to depart from us, for your beloved Abraham’s sake, for your servant Issac’s sake, and for your holy Israel’s sake;

1:13 To whom you have spoken and promised, that you would multiply their descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand upon the seashore.

1:14 For we, Lord, have become less than any nation, and are kept under this day in all the world because of our wickedness.

1:15 Neither is there at this time a prince, a prophet, or a leader to plead our case before you, and to find mercy.

1:16 Nevertheless, in a sorrowful heart and in a humble spirit, let us be accepted.

1:17 Let our prayers and songs be in your sight this day, and grant that we may follow you completely, for those who trust you shall be rewarded.

1:18 And now we follow you with all our hearts, we learn wisdom and seek your face.

1:19 Do not shame us, but deal with us with your lovingkindness, and according to the multitude of your mercies.

1:20 Deliver us also according to your marvelous works, and give glory to your name, Lord, and let all those who harm your servants be ashamed;

1:21 And let their strength, their power, and their might be broken;

1:22 And let them know that you are God, the only God, and glorious over the whole world.”

1:23 King Nebuchadnezzar’s servants, who put Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah into the furnace, kept making the furnace hotter by adding more fuel to the fire;

1:24 So that the flame streamed forth seventy-three and a half feet high above the furnace.

1:25 The flame passed through and burned the Babylonians to death that it found around the furnace.

1:26 But the angel of God came down into the furnace and joined with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The angel of God struck the flame of the fire out of the furnace;

1:27 And brought a moist whistling wind into the furnace, so that the fire did not touch Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah at all, neither did the fire hurt or trouble them.

1:28 Then Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, as out of one mouth, praised, glorified, and blessed God in the furnace, singing,

1:29 “Blessed are you, God of our fathers. You are to be praised and glorified above all forever.

1:30 And blessed is your glorious and holy name, to be praised and glorified above all forever.

1:31 Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory. You are to be praised and glorified above all forever.

1:32 Blessed are you that beholds the depths and sits upon the cherubim. You are to be praised and glorified above all forever.

1:33 Blessed are you on the glorious throne of your kingdom. You are to be praised and glorified above all forever.

1:34 Blessed are you in heaven, and above all to be praised and glorified forever.

1:35 All works of God, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:36 Heavens, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:37 Angels of God, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:38 All waters above, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:39 All powers of God, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:40 Sun and moon, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:41 Stars of heaven, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:42 Every shower and dew, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:43 Winds, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:44 Fire and heat, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:45 Winter and summer, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:46 Dews and storms of snow, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:47 Nights and days, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:48 Light and darkness, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:49 Ice and cold, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:50 Frost and snow, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:51 Lightnings and clouds, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:52 Let the earth bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:53 Mountains and hills, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:54 All things that grow in the earth, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:55 Mountains, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:56 Seas and rivers, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:57 Whales and all that move in the waters, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:58 All birds of the air, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:59 All beasts and cattle, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:60 Children, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:61 Israel, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:62 Priests of God, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:63 Servants of God, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:64 Spirits and souls of the righteous, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:65 Holy and humble men and women, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever.

1:66 Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, bless God. Praise and glorify him above all forever. He has delivered us and saved us from death. He has delivered us from the furnace and the fire.

1:67 Give thanks to God, because he is gracious and his mercy endures forever.

1:68 All you who worship God, bless the God of gods, praise him, and give him thanks, for his mercy endures forever.”

What Happened Next?

King Nebuchadnezzar saw that there were four men in the fire: Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and the angel of God.

King Nebuchadnezzar said, “Did we not throw three men … into … the fire? … I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth (man) is like the Son of God.” – Daniel 3:24-25

Then Nebuchadnezzar asked Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to walk out of the furnace, and they did.

“The hair on their heads was not burned nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.” – Daniel 3:27

After King Nebuchadnezzar tried to burn Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah alive, and they survived the ordeal, he gave them all a promotion. Hopefully a promotion where their lives would no longer be at risk from the king’s fiery temper.

As for King Nebuchadnezzar, he soon suffered extreme humiliation because of his massive ego, extreme humiliation that went on for seven years!

Now that Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah survived the fire, they are no longer mentioned in the book of Daniel. Daniel got to experience a similar life-threatening experience like his friends had, but that was many years later under a different king — a Persian one, not a Babylonian one. Thankfully, he passed that test.

Where Was Daniel During All That?

It can be natural to wonder where Daniel was when his friends could have been burned alive. I see two possibilities here, although there could be more than that.

The first possibility is that Daniel had too high of a rank to be threatened. The Babylonians who told Nebuchadnezzar about Daniel’s friends not bowing down and worshipping Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue might not have wanted to also accuse Daniel. Daniel, like his friends, may have also refused to bow down and worship the gold statue, but his rank might have protected him.

Interestingly enough, Daniel’s rank didn’t seem to matter many years later when it was time for Persians to accuse him of something similar.

The second possibility is something I hadn’t thought of until recently. What if Daniel had bowed down and worshipped Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue? In that case, Daniel would not have been threatened with being burned alive. He would have met the requirement to keep him safe from such a threat.

That second possibility is not something I say lightly. Daniel is one of the greatest examples for my own life, especially with how he handled himself both before and after the fiery furnace incident. But what if Daniel had given in and gone along with what everyone else, expect for his three friends, was doing?

Such an action shows Daniel as a man with a weakness of character to overcome. His friends are not mentioned when Daniel faced a similar test much later in his life.

Persia had conquered Babylon, or in more modern terms, Iran had conqured Iraq. Persians took over what was once the kingdom of Babylon. Daniel had some enemies through no fault of his own, and those high-ranking Persians set a trap for him. They tricked King Darius into signing a law that required everyone to pray to him, the king.

By then, Daniel’s friends might have all died, perhaps of natural causes. He had their example to look to, and he missed his friends dearly. Daniel might have failed that previous test with King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue, but he wasn’t going to fail this test — even though his life was once again at risk if he didn’t go along with what everyone else was doing.

Daniel made sure to show, in public, that he was defying King Darius’ law. Daniel prayed to God multiple times every day. He did not pray to the king. Daniel’s enemies were watching, and they were ready. They reported to the king about what Daniel had been doing, and the king regretfully had to follow his own law. Daniel was faced with the threat of death. Not with a fiery furnace, but with a bunch of starving lions.

King Darius couldn’t sleep. He waited all night for dawn to arrive, so he could go and find out if Daniel had survived the lions. To King Darius’ great relief, Daniel had survived. Prayer had saved Daniel, just like it had saved Daniel’s friends.

Conclusion

I reworded “The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews” from a centuries old translation, which is in the public domain outside of the United Kingdom.

Similar to my recommendation earlier for praying, singing, and writing lyrics, I also highly, highly recommend that you watch the movie “The Book of Daniel” and read the book of Daniel itself at least once. The movie really brings the book of Daniel to life. Yes, it’s a lower budget production, but that ultimately doesn’t matter. The message still comes through quite clearly.

Personally, it also helped that the voice of the actor who plays Daniel when he is older very much reminded me of my main real life father figure, Dr. Keith.

Dr. Keith once gave me a word of wisdom during a men’s group meeting, while we were surrounded by other men who were in agreement with what he said. To summarize, Dr. Keith told me that “You will fast and pray. You will be like Daniel. You will …”

Whenever I think of stating in public what the next three words were that Dr. Keith said, I end up thinking it could seem like I have a massive ego. But I can’t make up what he said. Time will tell what ultimately happens, but I have seen those words from that evening as something to live towards and something to humbly look forward to. I am here to serve.

It has been thousands of years since the stories of Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and Daniel were first told. And their examples of leadership shine brighter than any fire and brighter than any dawn of a new day.

Whatever trying times we find ourselves living in, we each have our own tests to face. Will we go along with what everyone else is doing, or will we pass the test and be threatened with death? It might not be a fiery furnace or a bunch of starving lions, but it will still be a challenge to stand out and see that our God can protect us.

Even if we are meant to die from standing up to local tyranny, national tyranny, or global tyranny, may we face our deaths with dignity and go out with prayers and songs in our hearts and on our lips. God wouldn’t expect anything less of us.

Either way, our examples, like the examples of Daniel and his friends, could inspire enough other people to rid the world of all the kinds of slavery that we’ve been bound by for far too long.

Thank you, God, for helping us bring forth heaven on earth.

“Let it be on earth as it is in heaven.” – Jesus

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Until next time,

James Barnett

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