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. (Daniel 6:10)
Why do you think Daniel was so defiant in the face of the king’s decree? I believe the answer is found in the state of Daniel’s heart; he had moved so far beyond “duty” that his devotion in praying to God had become his delight. Daniel could have remained faithful to pray in his usual three-times-a-day devotion by simply praying in private; that would have satisfied his duty, and his rivals would never have been able to charge him with violating the king’s decree. He could have completed the same activity — praying to his God — in his prayer closet and not out in plain sight by his upstairs windows. But Daniel so delighted in his daily communion with God that he refused to alter his pattern of prayer, even in the face of bitter opposition.
Pressure of persecution
Daniel’s delight in prayer drove him to disregard the pressure of persecution, knowing full well what it would cost him. His delight in praying to God made him defiant . . . even at the cost of being thrown into the lion’s den!
When duty and devotion turn to delight, we will refuse to bow to anything smaller than our God, regardless of the cost or circumstances we may face. Sure, Daniel could have continued his pattern of prayer without anyone knowing about it, but something greater was at stake here. Daniel’s rivals knew about his commitment to his God and his daily pattern of prayer. If Daniel began praying in private, he would have sent a message to his rivals that their plan of persecution was powerful enough to alter his prayer life or stop it altogether.
Duty to delight
Make no mistake: duty and devotion do not think this way; only delight does — even in the face of a den of lions who would have delighted in having Daniel for lunch.
So . . . what have you been delighting in lately? Is it Jesus or something smaller than Him? Is it something that is here today and gone tomorrow, or is it something that will last forever? May we never see our opportunity to kneel before our heavenly Father as a duty or an obligation; may it be a source of divine delight, true and abiding joy, and supernatural strength for us.
The author of Hebrews encourages us with these words: “Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14, 16).
When we approach the throne of grace with boldness even the gates of hell shall not prevail. Our Great High Priest invites us into His presence through prayer and to all those who have put their trust in Him, by grace through faith, prayer rises above duty and devotion, all the way to delight!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that. . . . Amen.
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.