I saw a Muslim woman praying in the teachers’ lounge and it blessed my soul… while also piquing my curiosity. The lounge already had about four other people in the room, yet this teacher laid out her prayer mat, said her beginning prayers, and then knelt in continual prayer to God. Somehow, she was able to tune out the voices around her and focus on her time with God (which was about five to ten minutes). Nothing else matter to her at this time, yet I looked at her with joy and amazement. Although she did not ask for my praise or approval, I was so proud of how she boldly worshiped God- with no care to anyone else’s thoughts, words, or opinions. As I starred in delight, my mind recalled a person in the Bible who prayed to God with no cares of who could see him- his name was Daniel.
Open your Bibles to Daniel 6.
Daniel was a prophet of the Lord and he lived during the time when the kingdom of Judah had been exiled in Babylon. Two important things to note about Daniel: 1. He was teenager when this chapter took place and 2. He had been trained and educated for three years in the “language and literature of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:4, NKJV). Despite his age and his newfound education, he diligently held true to the laws of the true Lord and obeyed Him above all else. Another thing to add about Daniel is that, with the help of the Lord, he apparently excelled in all that he did. In chapter 1, we see Daniel and the three Hebrew boys abstained from the king’s food yet were healthier and stronger than those who ate it…and every chapter continues to demonstrate the favor of God that was over these boys, Daniel included. So, it is no surprise that by chapter 6, we see that Daniel has some haters. And boy did they hate him!
At the beginning of chapter 6, Daniel has been appointed one of three governors over the entire kingdom and the king sought to make him even higher still. As verse three says, there was “an excellent spirit in him” and he found favor in the eyes of the king. Some of his subordinates just were not having it. They grew tired of his favor and sought to destroy him. They searched high and low but found no fault in Daniel… “unless [they] find it against him concerning the law of his God (Daniel 6:5, NKJV).”
So, these men went to the king and suggested that the king make a law stating that no one should bow down to anyone- god or man- expect King Darius, himself, or else they would be thrown into the lions’ den. King Darius agreed and wrote the law into action and it was sealed (meaning that no one could undo the law, not even King Darius). These men did this because they knew that Daniel would still pray, and when he was caught, he would be thrown into the den of lions. They just knew their problems would be solved with the creation and implementation of this devious plan. Too bad they did factor in how our God works…
The scripture says that Daniel knew about the law but still bowed and prayed to God, with his windows open and facing Jerusalem, three times a day, just as he always had. And of course, his haters snitched on him and turned him in to the king. Despite the king’s favor concerning Daniel, he had to uphold the law that he had made, so into the lions’ den went Daniel.
We all know what happened after that- God spared Daniel’s life in the den and Daniel used a lion’s head as a pillow as he slept that night. After that, King Darius lifted praises to God and declared that He was the only God. A beautiful ending to a troubling story…but do not miss the point: Daniel did not stop praying just because those around him had a problem with him and his prayers. Daniel still prayed to God just as faithfully as he had before the law was written. His surroundings and haters did not stop him from worshiping God.
And it should not stop us either.
Laws may be a bit different now but fear and hate still exist. We live in a world where we are taught to fear those who are different from us, yet there I was in a room with someone who is very different from me, and I was admiring her faith. I admired how much she loved her God to the point where she tuned out our loud voices and prayed… yet here I am, still struggling to bow out of conversations so that I can say my grace before I eat. She showed me that while religion is not in schools, God can very much be in the building, if we welcome Him in. She showed me how to boldly declare my faith without even uttering a word. From her I was reminded that the greatest way to tell someone about my God is to simply get on my knees and pray. In her bowing to God, she gained the strength to stand before anyone or anything that may come before her. In her five minutes of prayer, my heart burned for a deeper connection with God… the type of connection that would cause me to freeze the world around me, fall to my knees, and pray to my Lord and Savior.
She and I may read from different Holy Words, praise differently, and believe different things, but at the core, we both know that prayer is the key.