“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)
Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.
Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle.
Mom! Mom mom!!
With my genes, my girls didn’t have much of a chance at grace and my baby girl is no different. So these are the sounds heard in my home multiple times any given day.
It’s the immediate reaction of any child to trouble, the crying out to mom and the running to her side to tell her all about the tragedy and pain.
There’s little I can do most of the time to fix the problem. My baby’s fallen and hurt (maybe even angry) and while I can’t change the fact of her fall and no Band-Aid is going to alleviate the temporary soreness, I can kiss her, cuddle her close and tell her I love her. And so I do.
Then I fall down, tripping over my own sin, or another person who invaded my space, or an obstacle I didn’t foresee, or an unexpected pit in my road.
To whom do I run? What is my immediate response, my instantaneous reaction to pain? What is yours?
For some, it’s to hold our bruises close for a while and to snap at any bystanders who offer to help us stand back to our feet. Maybe even hide our heads in embarrassment for the spectacle of the fall in the first place.
For some, it’s to call out for help from those nearby, asking them to both hoist us up and even bear the burden of our weight for a while as we wobble around on a weakened leg.
For some, it’s to haul out our own first aid kit and apply ice and bandages to our own wounds and refuse the expert care so readily available.
For some, it’s to sit without moving, paralyzed by fear. What if our leg is broken? What if we never walk again? What if . . . what if . . . what if . . . ?
In Beth Moore’s study, Daniel, she notes how his immediate response to the king’s edict prohibiting prayer was to go “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).
He didn’t worry first and then pray. He didn’t try to fix the situation through his political abilities and then pray. He didn’t even concede defeat and stop his public prayer habits, choosing instead to silently petition God at night while others slept.
Then there’s the matter of what he prayed. Sure, some of us have indeed trained ourselves to “take it to the Lord in prayer” without hesitation. We run to his side and bury our noses in the hem of His robe, sniffling out our requests to Him. But are we giving thanks amidst those tears?
Daniel was. Scripture says he “got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God” (Daniel 6:10). When I’m smarting from an injury, I’m more likely to complain about the pain than sing hymns of thankful praise.
Not Daniel. Political enemies, a manipulated king, a dangerous edict, his faith attacked, his life on the line—still Daniel gave thanks.
Paul made the same connection when he wrote,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Peace in the midst of pain is there for the taking sometimes, and yet we choose anxiety instead. We opt for fear by trying to control our own problems rather than running to God’s side and dumping them at His feet. We allow worry to reign in our hearts and minds by refusing to pray with thanksgiving at all times and in every situation.
I confess I’m a rebel at times. Even though I know I should shove aside my grumbling and choose to be thankful—even when it takes struggling and squinting to see that sparkle of light in a dark place– still I decline.
I dusted off my thankfulness journal this morning after two weeks of shoving it aside. I didn’t want to be thankful. I wanted to feel wronged. I didn’t want some secret formula to maintaining joy in trials; I wanted no more trials! I wanted God to feel pity for me and feel sorry for letting me be hurt. Perhaps what I wanted was an apology from Him.
It’s like emotional manipulation of the Almighty God. “I’m not going to praise You or worship You or give You thanks or hand over my fears to You until You rescue me in the way I desire.”
It’s handing God a sheet and pillow and pointing to the couch.
It’s ignoring His phone calls and giving Him the silent treatment at the dinner table.
It’s holding my breath until he gives me what I want.
And it’s just about as effective as all those tactics. So when my tantrum is done, I pray and I give thanks. Reluctantly at first, perhaps, and yet I try. Maybe the next time I trip and fall, I pray with thanksgiving immediately because I have learned that gratitude shifts my focus off my need and onto the face of my Deliverer.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King