In Daniel chapter 6, we have probably the best-known story of the book of Daniel: Daniel and the Lion’s Den. So often we see the deliverance from the lion’s den as the focal point of this story. And it is a big deal; I certainly don’t want to minimize that.
BUT, I think the biggest MIRACLE in Daniel 6 is that Daniel, even in the midst of incredible pressure to conform to the culture, remained faithful just as he always had! Even in the midst of this pressure to at least hide his praying, even with how easy it would have been to justify the smallest compromise, he went on serving God as he always had.
How did Daniel remain faithful?
How? By regularly spending time with the Father. That’s what “communing” means. It’s simply intimate communication. Even after King Darius signed an injunction ordering that no one make any petition to any god except Darius, Daniel still prayed:
“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” -Daniel 6:10
Prayer, for Daniel, was the way that he continued to worship God even while in exile– while in a place that was not his home! He was strengthened BY God as he spent time WITH God. He had his mind and heart set more toward his homeland, Jerusalem, than on his current state of affairs.
He was strengthened BY God as he spent time WITH God.
The Negative Side of the Prosperity Gospel
Like Daniel, we are in exile. And one of the easiest idols to take up in this life is the idol of security and comfort. It’s just a softer form of the prosperity gospel, the thought that God doesn’t want me to be anything except secure and comfortable.
The prosperity gospel teaches that God wants us to be rich in this life, and the negative side of that is that God does NOT ever want us to suffer or be uncomfortable. But this is a complete lie. Sometimes faithfulness to God will result in demotions or loss of work or less opportunity or tensions within relationships. Sometimes faithfulness will cost us something.
And the more we spend time on our knees like Daniel, praying, seeking to hear from Him, knowing Him through His written Word, the more we will see things as they truly are. Like Daniel, we will find joy and contentment in being faithful to God even when there are consequences. And maybe like Daniel this should be a healthy habit!
Like Daniel, we will find joy and contentment in being faithful to God even when there are consequences.
We’re so reactionary
I get so frustrated with how reactionary we are, and I’m certainly including myself here. It’s like when prayer was a problem, as in no one really did it, what happened? Well, these movements came along telling us to set up a time every day, or a few times every single day, where we’d pray to God. Same times, every day!
And then when everyone started doing that, and a few people became overly proud of it, what did we do? We suddenly call praying daily at certain times legalistic! And we react back to the other side, and suddenly think prayer should never be organized or prepared or planned. It must be spontaneous, otherwise it’s not Spirit-driven!
We’re ridiculous sometimes. God wants us to commune with Him! Instead of being obsessed with avoiding legalism or avoiding not praying enough, just pray! If it helps you to set up a habit like Daniel, do it! There’s nothing wrong with that. And sure, watch your heart and make sure you don’t make that a thing of pride. And if setting up times isn’t for you, that’s fine, just make sure you’re communing with God, praying and reading His Word.
We all know why there’s a problem with 10 supervisors trying to complete some task. Why is that a problem? Because they’re all supervising, telling the others how to complete the task, and none of them are actually doing the work! That’s what I feel like with prayer sometimes. Sometimes, we need to stop worrying about whether not we have the best prayer habits or have the best prayer plans and just pray! Daniel did, and it strengthened him to be able to stand up against pressure to compromise. He saw the situation before him as it truly was: a decision to obey an insecure, easily-tricked, man-king vs. The Almighty God of the universe.