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
If someone asked you which cartoon character best represents your response to bad news, what would your answer be? I’m pretty sure my response is closest to Shaggy and Scooby Doo. I [mentally] shout “ZOINKS!” and run around in circles planning and preparing for a monster attack. I also may or may not try to eat an entire sub sandwich in one sitting somewhere in the process. The whole thing is pretty scooberific.
Each time, after the fact, I’ll tell myself that I should respond better next time. I should take a deep breath and count to at least 50 before I respond at all. I should probably wait 24 hours before I call everyone in my phone for advice. And of course I should pray, but it usually ends up being one of those spaztic emergency-mode prayers. Even in retrospect, most of my ideas are reactive. What about a proactive approach?
I’ve been thinking about this all week as I continue my read through Daniel. What an incredible role model. Even in his almost constant state of emergency – captive of Babylon as advisor to the enemy king – nothing seems to ruffle this guy! How does he do it? Chapter six gives a behind-the-scenes peek at his emergency response plan. Here’s the backstory in case you don’t know: Some uuber-competitive royal advisors viewed Daniel as a threat. They (and apparently everyone else BUT the King) knew Daniel was a man of God and only prayed to God. They convinced King Darius to pass a law that forced everyone to pray only to the king. Anyone who refused to obey would be thrown into a lion’s den. So, check out Daniel’s response to this emergency:
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)
No “ZOINKS!” No running off to his other God-loving friends to see what they are going to do about it. No stress-eating. He went home and prayed AS USUAL. He prayed three times a day, JUST AS HE HAD ALWAYS DONE. And his conversation didn’t whither under pressure either; the Bible says he simply prayed “giving thanks to God.” Even in the face of what seemed like certain death, he prayed a prayer of thanksgiving.
So, to have that kind of faith and that kind of response in my life, it sounds like there are two things I can change right now.
- Make contact with God a regular, relational thing. Not just the automatic before meals prayer and not just the panicked emergency prayer but rather a regular, daily conversation with him where I let HIM lead the conversation through my Bible reading.
- Make contact with God a thankful thing. What if the focus of the majority of my conversations with God were gratitude? Only gratitude. God knows my heart and he commands me to fear not and worry not… what if I replaced fear and worry with thanksgiving?
It’s just one step closer to looking like Daniel rather than Shaggy & Scooby. But, if I take this practice beyond this week, beyond this month and beyond this year, I might very well someday stop “Zoink’ing” altogether! (Maybe.)
Dear Lord, I want to pray like Daniel prayed. I want to spend more time thinking about your awesomeness, your mercy, your power and your good and perfect plan. You’ve got this life all figured out and I don’t need to worry about a moment of it. Thank you for being patient with me as I daily, messily try to figure this out. Amen.
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