I like Daniel. He is a great example for those of us living in societies that don’t always understand or value our faith and traditions.
First of all, he works wholeheartedly for the good of the society in which he’s living. He works for the king – and by the end of this section he’s outlasted two Babylonian kings and is now serving Darius of Persia. Through all the turmoil of changing rulers, Daniel comes across as a solid, capable civil servant who gets on with the job in front of him.
And in that job, Daniel pays tribute to his God. Not, I suspect, by leaving helpful tracts around in the coffee room, or by taking every opportunity to challenge his colleagues about their faith in other gods. But when he’s put on the spot, he makes it clear that his wisdom and insight is due not to him, but to God.
And in this section we see that Darius is as vulnerable to the flattery of Daniel’s enemies as was Nebucchadnezzar before him. We also see that those enemies haven’t learned from what happened last time. Again, they play on the king’s vanity, to set himself up as a god with exclusive rights across his kingdom – for a month, no-one is to be allowed to pray other than to Darius.
And there’s no sign that Daniel chooses to take a stand or make a point, even on this. He just gets on with what he always does – praying three times a day, privately but not secretly. He doesn’t force his prayers on anyone, but nor will he hide them away and pretend that he’s not carrying on. He has a rhythm of prayer which is part of his being, and that is not something he’ll give up for any human king.
So he keeps praying, and is thrown into the den of lions. And just as God cooled the flames, he closes the mouths of the lions. But whether or not Daniel knew that would happen, he wasn’t going to give up on prayer.
Do you have a regular pattern of prayer? If not, get one started! It may well carry you through some challenging times one day. If you do, how determined are you to stick with it? Daniel stands as an example to us. Prayer is not something to force on others, of course. But it’s not something to be given up on just because there are lions waiting.