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, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
It’s important to realize that Daniel did not pray because it was his last resort. He prayed because it was his first priority. He didn’t pray because there was nothing else he could do, but because it was what “he had always done before.”
By the time of this story, Daniel was likely in his eighties. And long ago, as a teenager in Daniel 1, he resolved that his appetite, affection, and allegiance would be squarely rooted in one place. He created a pattern of dependence and trust in God that anchored him through the turmoil and disruptions of military defeat, forceful captivity, and a life of exile in a foreign empire.
We celebrate his moment of courage, but we should look to his pattern of dependence. Courage is not an outer quality. It is the inner life breaking out into the open. It is not honed in public, on a stage, in the big moment. It is slowly cultivated in the garden of the soul and is pushed and drawn to the surface by the Holy Spirit in the moment we need it.
Don’t forget that Daniel was now second in command in the empire. He had great influence and proximity to power. Yet he did not look to the empire for his deliverance. He went to his room, opened his windows toward Jerusalem, and fixed his eyes on a kingdom he could not see. He had the vision to discern the alternative story and align his life with that script.
Holy Spirit, teach us to resolve that our appetites, affections, and allegiance will always be rooted in you. Cultivate in us a pattern of dependence until it becomes our standard mode of operation and first response to every trial.
What is your first response in times of difficulty, stress, and trial? To whom or what do you look first? What does that say about your dependency?
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