Day 6 – The Practice of Prayer
Daniel models the prayer-filled life for us. In these verses we read that Daniel prayed regardless of personal cost. Daniel made and kept prayer appointments, and was known as person of prayer, whose prayers was filled with thanksgiving. Let’s meditate on these facts for a moment.
His adversaries knew that Daniel was a man of such integrity that the only way to discredit him was to make criminal his spiritual life. Daniel was among those Jews taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Jerusalem lay in waste and the temple destroyed, yet Zion continued to be the focus for worship and spiritual life for the Jewish people. For this reason Daniel prayed facing Jerusalem, and did so three times a day. His prayer appointments corresponded to the moments, when in happier times, sacrifices were offered in the temple at Jerusalem. This was the norm for devout Hebrews of Daniel’s time, and the practice was continued by Jewish followers of Jesus in the book of Acts.
Setting appointments for prayer and keeping them is important for us today. Whether you decide to do so three times a day, like Daniel, or just once a day, morning or evening, making and keeping prayer appointments is essential to the prevention of prayer neglect. I’m confident Daniel was in a prayerful attitude throughout the day; prayer was not limited to those moments when he bowed toward Zion. So we, in a similar way “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). However, having moments of uninterrupted, focused prayer is vital for spiritual lives.
It must have been an anxious moment when Daniel bowed his knees to pray – his enemies had made it a crime to ask anything of anyone other than the king. Yet he remained faithful to his schedule. He knew they lay in wait to pounce, yet as he bowed facing Jerusalem, the Scriptures says, he “prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”
Being anxious is certainly not unique to modern life, yet we Americans have perfected it to an art-form. In our current economic crisis we have no lack of things to be anxious about and we might struggle to find things to be thankful for, yet Philippians 4:6-7 tells us that thanksgiving and prayer is the antidote to anxiety. Let’s be like Daniel, and make giving thanks an important feature of the time we spend with the Lord. The results will be very therapeutic.
Daniel was able to keep his daily appointments with God despite his circumstances because he had made it a habit since youth. If you choose a regular place and time of prayer and make it a priority, the practice will become so ingrained that missing it will become unthinkable.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)