SELF CARE Part 1

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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.

Every day.

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.

STUDY – Daniel 6 – NIV
1It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. 3Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
6So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! 7The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. 8Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered – in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 9So King Darius put the decree in writing.
10Now 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. 11Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
The king answered, “The decree stands – in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”
13Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.
15Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”
16So the king gave the order, 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!”
17A 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. 18Then 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.
19At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20When 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?”
21Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22My 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 ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
23The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
24At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
25Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
“May you prosper greatly!
26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
“For he is the living God
and he endures forever,
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
28So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

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