“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” Daniel 6:10 (ESV)
Nothing can throw me into a pit quite like circumstances I can’t control. It’s that place where anxiety threatens to swallow me whole as my mind races through all of the fear-inducing what-ifs and unknowns.
That’s why I’m so thankful for the example set by Daniel in Scripture. Daniel 6:1-15 gives us such a clear picture of what we can do when all that feels safe and secure in our lives begins to come under attack.
In Daniel 6:10, Daniel has just learned that anyone caught praying to someone besides King Darius will be thrown into the lions’ den. Can you imagine the level of fear this edict could have stirred up in Daniel? He easily could have found himself in a pit of despair before he ever came close to that pit full of lions. But Daniel’s reaction is amazing.
Daniel goes home, throws his windows open and prays anyway. I wonder if I could have been so brave?
And do you know what he chose to pray?
“God, save me!”
“God, it’s not fair!”
“God, this is too much!”
“God, smite my enemies and wipe them out!”
No. None of the above.
Daniel 6:10b tells us Daniel spoke prayers of gratitude. “He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”
Since Daniel’s response is so opposite of the way most of us would react, it makes me stop and ponder. And what I discover are three powerful truths I want to both remember and live out.
1) Thankfulness must become a habit.
Our initial responses are usually a by-product of the rituals we’ve established in our life. Since gratitude-filled prayers were Daniel’s reaction, that tells me gratitude and trust in God were front and center in Daniel’s heart. Daniel was able to give thanks, even in the midst of uncontrollable circumstances, because it was a habit he’d already formed in his life.
2) Fighting fear begins the moment we start giving thanks.
Being a thankful person seemed to help Daniel combat fear. Never once does the story mention Daniel trying to hide. He didn’t set about trying to control or manipulate his situation. He simply threw his windows open and prayed where anyone and everyone could see.
This wasn’t Daniel living in denial of his circumstances. This was Daniel turning to God in the midst of his circumstances.
3) We can’t always fix our circumstances, but we can fix our eyes on God.
Daniel’s posture during prayer is revealing. First, we see Daniel was praying toward Jerusalem — a posture based on King Solomon’s words in 1 Kings 8:35-51 during the temple dedication. Daniel knew where his help and his hope came from — it came from God, and God alone.
Daniel’s deep level of trust is also revealed in that he was kneeling as he prayed. Prostration is a sign of both self-awareness and God-awareness. (1 Kings 8:54, Ezra 9:5, Luke 22:41, Acts 7:60) It’s an act of deep humility. We may not always be kneeling when we pray, but we can always choose the posture of Daniel’s heart.
Let’s ask the Lord to help us humbly and gratefully fix our eyes on Him instead of fixating on our problems today. And let’s allow Daniel’s life to be proof to our hearts that the words of Isaiah 26:3 are indeed true: God is able to keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on Him, because they trust in Him.
Father God, I know it is normal for us to sometimes find ourselves in a pit of fear and discouragement. But we don’t have to stay there. Today, we’re choosing to fix our eyes on You. And we’re remembering that each and every thing we verbalize our thankfulness for is like a steppingstone out of the pit we’ve been in. Thank You for providing Your timeless truths that prove to us over and over again how powerfully capable You always are. With You by our side, we have no need to fear. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What a beautiful reminder of God’s love and mercy to those who trust Him in both good times and difficult ones. I had forgotten the goodness of gratitude. Thank you!
Thank you for this opportunity to learn more about god
Lysa loved your comments about giving thanks and fighting our fears and not to panic. I just finished your Bible Studies class with Pastor Craig and loved it. Also I finished my Bible Studies class I have through my church. We studied Beth Moore “Daniel”.
That too was great. Our Bible Studies class studied your book “Univited” and I loved it. I went on to read “It’s not suppose to be this way”. Great book. Now I’m just gonna start reading “Unglued”. Thank you for being such a great person and a great author. I look forward to your next Bible Studies. Hugs and Blessings
Love and blessings
I enjoy reading the devotions that Lysa writes. The words carry such vivid images and vibrant motion that I can literally visualize the story being written with powerful words, statements, and truth. I enjoy the development of language used to create a message. Your messages are not only words, but a movie with God’s truth being the main star. Much appreciated.
It’s easy enough to advise people to count their blessings, to have an attitude of gratitude, but can we realistically expect that response when the pain cuts so deep? I think there are a few rare people who can see the good in their lives, and be genuinely thankful for it, even in the midst of the blackest night. The rest of us could learn to do that if we would do as you suggest and make thankfulness a habit so that we’re fully prepared when the hard times hit.
When life hurts, I try taking all my feelings to God, being totally honest with Him, begging Him for relief. Venting helps release the anger and fear and hopelessness. It brings me back to a place where I can genuinely thank God for all the good in my life. But occasionally I’ve found myself wallowing in the pain. Obsessing over my circumstances. Making no progress in working through the distress.
The Holy Spirit has led me to a better understanding of spiritual warfare through all of this. There can be a fine line between an honest expression of the ache inside and a repetitious cycle of despair and self-absorption. When I cross that line, Satan is winning. But when I deliberately turn from brooding to thanksgiving, I’m resisting that liar. With God’s help, I’m standing up in my own little way against the evil one. Therefore, I give thanks. (Adapted from my blog at https://thosewhoweep.blogspot.com/2019/11/responding.html.)
One of the things I try to remember to thank God for regularly is people like you, Lysa, who write so wisely about the truths in His Word.