I have been reading through the book of Daniel over the past week. I love in Daniel about all the times that God comes through in miraculous ways; revealing dreams and their meanings, protecting Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fire, protecting Daniel from the lions, providing favor for Daniel with multiple kings.
Yesterday when I was reading, Daniel 6:10 stood out to me:
“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 had just found out horrible and potentially deadly news; anyone who prayed to anyone or any God other than king Darius for the next 30 days would be thrown into the lions’ den.
Now, when I try to put myself into Daniel’s shoes I know I probably wouldn’t have reacted the same way. I would have cried, stressed, pleaded to have my way, talked to my friends about what to do, and then most likely cried a lot more. I would have felt sorry for myself for being in a bad situation and not knowing what to do about it.
But, not Daniel; he went home and gave thanks to God, just like he always did. Instead of freaking out about his circumstances, Daniel chose to focus on God and give thanks.
He gave thanks and then asked for help. Verse 6:11 says:
“Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”
Daniel did ask God for help and guidance, but he gave thanks first. I tend to get this backwards. I beg and plead with God to help me out of my troubles and then I give thanks once I see something good starting to happen. But, Daniel teaches us that we are to give thanks first. There are many verses in the Bible that give these instructions, including:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I think it is also important to note that Daniel continued praying as he had done before. He didn’t forget to pray when he had the favor of the king and things were going well and then run to God when a problem came up, he prayed three times a day giving thanks to God every day.
It is so easy when life is going good to think we have everything under control and then run to God when life starts to fall apart. But, this is not how we are supposed to live as Christians. We need to depend on God every day, no matter our circumstances. I truly believe that Daniel was able to respond the correct way when trouble arose because he was making wise choices and spending time with God daily.
The last thing that I got from these verses was the importance of not compromising. The decree was only for 30 days. Daniel could have easily hidden the fact that he was praying to God or decided not to pray for 30 days in an effort to save his own life, but he trusted God and did not compromise and God came through in a BIG way.
When the king went to check on Daniel in the lions’ den in the morning he heard in verse 6:21, “Daniel answered, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.” And I love that the Bible removes the argument that maybe the lions just weren’t hungry for some reason. Later in the chapter it tells us that when the men who falsely accused Daniel were thrown in “before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.”
Daniel was faithful and trusted God every day, not just when things were going well. He gave thanks daily, even when the situation could have seemed hopeless. He didn’t hide his faith when his life was on the line; he kept doing just what he had always done. And, God was faithful!