I have written on Daniel and his boldness of prayer before. That post focused more on how we tend to highjack Daniel’s story, and convince ourselves that he was a bold zealot who fought against authority. His story has been making the rounds again lately as an example over various events taking place in our world today. I can understand the comparisons, and cannot say I know enough to say whether or not that comparison is even right or wrong. Daniel did not shy away from his commitment to God within his position in the local government. He remained firm to his convictions, and had an incredibly defining moment. A moment where he prayed to God when it was against the law. The consequence was to be thrown into a den of lions.
I think we still miss a lot when we just focus on Daniel’s defiance. I have said that before on this blog, but it seems important to repeat. It is so easy for us to look at Daniel in his one defining moment, but the simple truth is that this is incredibly misleading for us to view Daniel as an example. Growing up I would hear these stories, and wonder if I would be prepared to have that one big defining moment. Those moments in America are rare. We think they are prevalent, but not compared to the countless Christians around the world who are literally being killed for their faith every day.
Here is was the problem with my thinking, or at least one of the problems. Daniel did not have on big moment. Daniel’s story is about having a defining lifestyle. Daniel was consistent with his prayer. He prayed three times a day in the same way. It was not out of rebellion to the authority above him. Daniel was praying long before it was illegal to pray. That is the real trick. Daniel didn’t suddenly become a loyal believer of God after it was dangerous to do so. His consistency is what made it feasible to remain faithful when danger presented itself.
Our lives are filled with opportunities for small defining moments. These will be moments that will shape our character and faith. Daniel’s faith was seen to be so strong that his enemies needed to find a way to make it be a weakness. They still failed to succeed.
We often look at people who have one singular defining moment that gets them either in the media, quoted on the internet, or in some other way recognized for appearing daring for their faith. We are so obsessed with seeing these big moments, but often forget the little ones. It is the little moments that produce consistency, and point to a higher purpose.
Here is the simple truth, Daniel would have been perfectly fine to have never been caught for praying in his room, it would not have bothered him if his story was never recorded in Scripture, and it didn’t seem to bother him when it seemed a certainty that his story was going to end being eaten by a lion. Daniel wasn’t doing it to be recognized for the big moment. Daniel was remaining faithful because he was part of a people that had gotten into this mess for a disastrous level of unfaithfulness to God. His prayers were prayers of begging God for forgiveness and mercy. His defining moments were the ones that were never actually written about because those were the ones who made him who he was.