Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just has he had done before. – Daniel 6:10
Recently I was swapping my nightstand with another one I had in our house. I had to clean out the drawers before I could bring the new one in. Inside I found a treasure trove of old prayer journals from 2006-2016.
I got sidetracked opening them, reading and reminiscing. It was like I was back in time reliving the moments of my life all over again. The laments of being a momma of littles, prayers for help working through relationships, guidance for my kids, help in forgiving, and more. I loved seeing the pages and pages of prayers for the health and well being of family, friends, and even strangers. These are people that are still here today and some that have passed away.
It was amazing for me to realize that I had documented my relationship with God. I never knew that by me writing, I could see that beautiful relationship with God ebb and flow through the years. I looked back and not only saw my faith grow but I looked back and saw how God had answered prayers. I even saw how he had gracefully left some of them unanswered. I was able to see past hopes, fears, and praises with fresh eyes. I was able to see past anxieties and sins that still have a hold on me today.
Looking back on my life I seem to have always gone through stages of writing. Starting with middle school and high school diaries. To my first prayer journal that documents the year before I got married and the first few months of that new life together. Then came the parenting of my young children. And even in the last few years, documenting the hopes and dreams I have for my children as they grow in faith, become adults, and enter into their own journey of life without me and my husband.
Back when my faith was immature and I was navigating who I was and what role God was placing in my life, I was asked some pretty tough questions. Somewhere in that jungle of prayer journals, I’m sure this story came to the surface. There was an acquaintance we know who is an atheist. I feel like that person rather enjoyed getting me flustered with questions about God, faith, and why I cared so much. I often left the conversations upset at my lack of biblical knowledge, or lack of words to describe who God was to me. There was one particular evening when that person stopped by our home for a few minutes. The kids were scattered through the house and it was just the two of us standing in my entryway. I’m not sure how it got started, but they were drilling me about something faith related. I couldn’t answer their questions as a biblical scholar or a member of the clergy could. However, I could answer it as a young woman who loved God.
I told them honestly that I couldn’t answer their question because I didn’t know. We may never know. But what I did know, was that God loved me and loved having a relationship with me. That I knew this for a fact. Because whenever I started to lose faith…whenever I stopped praying…those were the times when my family went to crap…those were the times my marriage would start to crumble. But when I would turn around and grab for that relationship again; when I would begin to pray again, that’s when my outlook would be more positive. My situation my not have changed but my outlook did. That was all I needed to assure me there was a God who cared about me.
After that conversation I was able to see how very important prayer was to me. That I didn’t have to be a biblical scholar to love God. It didn’t matter if I knew all the books of the bible or not. What mattered was my relationship with God the Father. That he wanted me to come to him with all of me in prayer.
Daniel was a perfect example of a prayer warrior. Every day, three times a day, he would get on his hands and knees and pray to God.
Three times a day.
This took perseverance and must have been habit for him to keep at it each day. That dedication to his relationship with God, paid off for him. It was his faithful prayer life that helped him stay safe when he was thrown into the lions’ den.
…and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I even done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” – Daniel 6:16-22
We are talking this week about self care. About the importance of taking care of yourself so that you can be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. Taking care of yourself is essential so you have exactly the things you need to serve. Self care will look different to different people. Some will need rest, some meditation, some time away from people, and others will need exercise. The list will be endless. However one of the single most important things to all people’s self care is prayer. This is the one area of each of our lives that is private for just us and God. How people pray may look different but we all need that prayer. That prayer solidifies our relationship with God and it will be where we will talk and where we will listen, depending on the moment.
I may never ALWAYS write in a prayer journal, but I will ALWAYS faithfully pray. Even when there are no words I will pray. God knows my heart and soul and he will carefully hold them in the palm of his hands and keep them safe.
Think about Daniel’s daily prayers. Think about how the king knew Daniel continually served God. What does prayer look like to you? Are you continually serving him daily in prayer? Remember prayer can be silent, can be spoken aloud, can be conversations throughout the day, can be the last thing you do in the evening or the first thing you do in the morning. You can pray wherever you are: in bed, on the couch, in a favorite chair, in a special room. Whatever prayer looks like for you, make it a daily priority. Your self care requires it. Your heart and soul relies on it.