But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. —Daniel 6:10 NLT
Whether we are positioning a chair or prioritizing our prayer life, space matters. A friend called me yesterday and confessed that life keeps crowding out her prayer time. She said her intentions are good, and then slowly the space she had designated for talking to the Lord is used up by unanticipated demands.
I totally understood. Just as I couldn’t have imagined when I purchased a chair what hubbub it would cause or time it would take to just find a place for it, I often am surprised how life eats up my purposed goals. The alarm doesn’t go off, the phone rings again, a child throws up, unexpected guests arrive, the dog needs to be rushed to the vet, yada, yada, yada. Life is invasive.
It reminds me of that old video game Ms. Pac-Man, where round smiley-faced fellows ate up dots in an attempt to devour “you” and put you out of the game, while you ran lickety-split through a maze.
I thought of Old Testament Daniel and how he prayed three times a day without fail. And even when smiley-faced fellows outlawed the bending of one’s knee to anyone except the king in hopes of wiping Daniel out, he continued his vigilant prayer routine.
Imagine being banished into a den of lions as their appetizer, and your only crime was talking to the Lord. I’ll tell you what, had that been me, I know my prayer life would have deepened quickly. A single growl from yonder surly beast, and I would have no more excuses, no more procrastination, and no more diversions. No siree, just unadulterated, passionate, “I got time for you, Lord” prayer.
There is something about crisis that helps us pray with fervor and also to reprioritize. Have you noticed that?
Perhaps, if we designated a space and time for prayer, that would help dedicate us to those important moments between God and us. Then what if we turned off our phones or let them go to voice mail? What if we kindly let our friends and kin know we were not available from seven till eight o’clock in the morning? Or nine to ten o’clock at night? And what if we asked our struggling prayer friend to gently hold us accountable and we would return the favor. Hmm, might work. Could be worth a try. Whatcha think?
Scripture tells us that Daniel was a man who had “an excellent spirit” in him (Daniel 6:3 NKJV). Daniel had already passed the necessary criteria to be considered for his palace position: handsome, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge, quick to understand, and a servant with a teachable heart. Whoa, those are tough qualifications. Yet Daniel more than aced the course on integrity personified-and get this, he was only a teenager when he was taken into captivity. How impressive is that? Why he seems almost boundless in character.
Here’s my question: do you think Daniel just had good DNA, a strong upbringing, or do you think his prayer life cultivated his character? The phrase that caught my attention in Daniel 6:10 is at the end of the verse: “as was his custom since early days.”
“As was his custom” was referring to Daniel’s regular prayer life. Sounds like being a man of prayer was a way of life for him.
Now what about for us? Let’s establish a plan. I’ve decided that I will perch on my rooster chair in the morning (cock-a-doodle-do) to talk with the Lord about my day and then rollerblade (okay, okay, toddle) to the chubby chair in the cubby for my evening prayers. I’ve placed Bibles by both chairs with notepads and pens.
Now what space will you set apart for him?
Next, I made a prayer list because I count heavily on paper to fill in the discrepancies of my brain cells. (I am not Daniel.) Sometimes I hold pictures of those I’m praying for because it seems to add another level of personalization.
Who is on your list?
Sometimes my list is so long I have to do half in the morning and half in the evening. And I’ve learned when life disrupts my prayers, which it will from time to time, not to be discouraged but simply to begin again as soon as circumstances allow. Some things are outside our control. We don’t want to be so married to our schedule that we lose our flexibility, and yet we don’t want to disregard this time for every passing whim.
I personally find it helpful to read a daily devotional reading before I pray to pull in my stray thoughts. Sometimes I just begin with a psalm.
The most important step in prayer is to begin. Don’t worry about how you say what’s on your mind because, while we are speaking, God is reading our hearts. He hears even the deep stuff we don’t know how to articulate. And he filters all our inner chaos through his boundless grace. God gets us.
God, I will find a space to meet with you every day-starting today…. Thank you for meeting me in my prayer space and reaching out to fill my heart with your boundless grace. Amen.