I don’t know about you, but when I am faced with severe consequences, I avoid doing the thing that I am not supposed to do. Not that there are any capital crimes I am contemplating, but if I were, the threat of punishment would be enough to keep me from doing them.
Through that lens, when I read the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, I can’t help but wonder what Daniel was thinking. Why, when he heard about the “no praying to God” decree does Daniel kneel in front of an open window and pray three times a day? Now, the Bible doesn’t say if it was out loud or not, but I imagine it was – simply because it just makes Daniel seem even bolder. I mean, he had to know that the decree was aimed at him, so why not just play it safe for the 30 days? It’s not like he had to give up praying, he just had to hide it so he wasn’t caught.
Sitting on this side of the history, we know how the story unfolds. God rescues Daniel, and the king is moved to praise God. Now, Daniel did have a history of God working things out for him. Sure, he was captured and taken into exile, but he was able to, through faith, work himself into good standing. But did he know that God would in fact rescue him as he did his friends in the fiery furnace? Probably not – yet it didn’t stop him from his conviction to pray.
Most of the personal prayers I pray are done silently. Sometimes I talk aloud to God, when I am driving alone, but for the most part the words are not audible. I hardly kneel to pray, save for the good night prayers I say with my children, where I kneel beside their bed. The time of day that I am praying varies – sometimes it is at night, sometimes in the morning – but I don’t have 3 devotional times a day. In other words, if someone was trying to catch me praying, it wouldn’t be hard for me to avoid being caught.
There is a little verse at the end of this story that I would bet most of us pay little attention to – “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6:28) – the word that really stick out to me is “so”. The word “so” can be used to convey a number of different things, and in this case we could substitute the word “therefore”. In other words, Daniel prospered because of the events in the story.
Did Daniel prosper because:
The king now saw first hand that God was with Daniel?
The king figured he owed Daniel for his prideful error in judgement?
He trusted God and was willing to risk his life to praise God.
I believe the answer is “C”. I believe that God rewarded Daniel for his faith, not only that fateful night by sending an angel to shut the lions’ mouths, but throughout the rest of his life.
I am not faced with death for expressing my faith or praising God. Sure, it may rub some people the wrong way; it may cause me temporary inconvenience, but nothing like facing a pride of hungry lions. Then why don’t I live out my faith in public like I do in private? Why not kneel at my desk in the middle of a busy day? Why not sing praises at my desk? Why not engage in conversations about faith with those who desperately need to hear it?
I am sure that God would bless the effort.