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.
Much of the book of Daniel is deeply related to the end time prophecies, and Daniel was a very important and prominent character and prophet of his time. Yet in this verse what we’re interested in is not the magnitude or the weight of his prophecies, nor the contents of his interpretations of the dreams of the Babylonian Kings. We’re going to look at his character through one of the incidents in his life. Daniel is widely known for his abstinence from the King’s food [Dan 1:8-16], his three friends for defeating the furnace [Dan 3:26-27], and his name spreads even further thanks to his adventure in the lion’s den [Dan 6:16-23], yet what we are looking at today is a less eye-popping incident – his prayers – yet through his consistent prayers despite his circumstances, there is a lot that we can learn from his character.
The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, and along with its spoils, the king also brought a group of fine young men fit for the king’s service into Babylon [Dan 1:4]. Daniel was one of them. When Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and nobody could explain the meaning of it to him, because the king did not reveal the dream to them. Nobody, that is, except for Daniel [Dan 2:46-47]. Subsequently, Daniel continued to distinguish himself in the service of Nebuchadnezzar, his son Belshazzar, and even Darius the Mede – Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom [Dan 6:3]. Yet when one is so outstanding, other people become jealous.
That was his circumstance. The King Darius, under the advice of ill-meaning administrators, issued an edict that if anyone would pray to any god or human other than the King for the next thirty days, they will be thrown to the lion’s den [Dan 6:7]. I strongly believe that it was a ridiculous edict – if you want a law like that, why just for thirty days then? The only purpose for that edict was to trap Daniel with it. Perhaps Daniel already knew that it was an evil ploy hatched by those administrators. Yet he would not look away from God. He would not stop praying to God.
just as he had done before – Even in difficult circumstances the decision for him was easy to make – he still prayed in a room where the window was open. He had nothing to hide. He still thanked God, as per normal. He never stopped thanking God just because his circumstances were harsher than before. Perhaps this was what Paul meant when he urged, give thanks in all circumstances [1 Thes 5:18|Article]. Perhaps it was easier for Daniel because he was so consistent about it. Three times a day! Alone in his room! Kneeling in prayer! Doesn’t matter if the window is open. Doesn’t matter if there are people looking in or not. Doesn’t matter even if there’s a decree against praying; doesn’t matter if he will be sent to the lion’s den for praying.
Just as he had done before.
A complicated situation which ought to have forced Daniel, blameless and holy Daniel, wise and discerning Daniel – into a dilemma was easily resolved, because he simplified the problem into nothingness. He simply, continued, just as he had before, doing what he had always done, as regularly as always.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published – He wasn’t caught praying because he didn’t know the new laws. Had the other satraps and administrators really wanted to trap him, surely they could have somehow blocked that piece of information to Daniel. What if Daniel hears about it, and stops praying for 30 days? What if Daniel hears about it, and closes his windows while he prays? It’s a ploy, a ruse, but a ridiculous one and a really badly-planned one. Perhaps they banked on holy, holy Daniel, to still pray in spite of the decree. Maybe they knew Daniel that well. But I’d like to think that it was down to the will of God. It was a stupid decree that Darius put out, yet he went along with it. It was a poor trap set by the satraps, yet it worked, and they caught Daniel praying. What was the direct result of this entire incident? Daniel was sent to the lion’s den. But the story doesn’t end there, although it should have. He should have died. But he didn’t, he survived, and Darius was so changed by that. What was the bigger result of this incident? Those administrators who set this trap for Daniel were sent instead to the lion’s den, and of course, they died. Quite a terrible death. And Darius, a changed man, issued another decree – in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel [Dan 6:26].
What started as a ploy to trap and get rid of Daniel through the fact that he prays to God three times a day without fail, ended with Daniel’s enemies destroyed and this God that Daniel prays to revered in all the lands of Darius. Amazing resolution indeed – it was possible, because Daniel trusted in the Lord. It was possible, because Daniel believed that the Lord was mighty. It was possible, because Daniel did not compromise on his relationship with the Lord. It was possible, ultimately, because God is mighty indeed. Let us learn from Daniel, and be consistent in our faith.