Last week, we talked about why it is important to pray: to grow in your relationship with God. But just how important is prayer?
This is not a very clear-cut question if you take a closer look. The word “important” has to do with how much you value something; different people value things to different extents. Prayer might be important to one person, and not as important to another. It should be important to the believer, but many of us do not hold it high enough.
Daniel Valued Prayer Over Not Only His Time, But His Life!
Let me tell you about how important prayer was to Daniel. Now, Daniel was not one to settle for low standards. Even when he was a teenager, he strived to be faithful to God and had the initiative to do hard things. (I talked about this in my “Daniel and the Veggies” post.) His youth set a strong foundation for him to keep on sacrificing comfort and to risk doing what he thought was right later on in life. He valued prayer over his time, and prayed three times a day! Daniel considered prayer to be very important.
So even when the document was signed for prayer to be outlawed, he continued to get down on his knees before God.
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. – Daniel 6:10 (ESV)
This proves that not only did Daniel value prayer over his time, but he also valued prayer more than his life!
Why Did Daniel Open His Windows?
Little rabbit trail here: I used to be confused as to why Daniel didn’t pray somewhere more hidden. After all, isn’t there a verse about shutting the door? This article by John Piper cleared things up for me. Here is an excerpt:
When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:5-6)
Does this indict Daniel’s public demonstration of prayer? I don’t think so. Jesus was warning against our love of praise for prayer, not our willingness to suffer for prayer. He was not saying that it is wrong to be seen in prayer. He was saying it is wrong to want to be seen so as to be praised for your piety. Blessed are you when men persecute you for righteousness sake (Matt. 5:10); but woe to you when you use your righteousness to seek their praise (6:2-4).
In Daniel’s context—and here we need great wisdom to know our own context—the call of God on his life was “let your light so shine that men may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” For Daniel, prayer had become a public statement about the glory of God over the glory of Darius. And it was a legitimate testimony. And so it is for us, if our hearts are right.
Now back to my point:
Is Prayer as Important to You as It Was to Daniel?
If you’re like me, right now you are thinking: Yeah, I dunno if I could pray as boldly as Daniel if I knew I would get arrested, but I know I can’t pray as consistently as him when I’m free to. I just don’t have time.
Well, to quote journalist Laura Vanderkam, “Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time’ try saying ‘it’s not a priority,’ and see how that feels.”
The reason why we don’t pray as often as Daniel is not because we’re too busy. It’s because we don’t make prayer a priority. Sure, we can never do everything on our list, but prayer shouldn’t be what we choose to overlook.
This blog post called “Prayer and My Toothbrush” caught my attention, and it made an excellent point: “As shortcuts go, not praying is about as effective as not brushing your teeth. You might save a couple of minutes up front, but the whole rest of your day stinks.”
If stuff like eating, sleeping, breathing, and brushing your teeth make your priority list, prayer should too.
…pray without ceasing… – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)
Is prayer a priority for you? If not, let’s make it one!
Practical Tips for Prioritizing Prayer
- Desire to pray. I talked more about how to do this in last week’s post, “Why Pray?”
- Pray after Bible reading. If you are in the habit of spending time with God in the morning, don’t leave prayer out of it.
- Pray during a drive. But keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel if you are driving.
- Pray before meals. The classic! (See 1 Timothy 4:4-5.)
- Pray at night. My favorite time to prayer journal is right before bed. I like to start my day with the Word and end it in prayer.
What do you think?
Do you have any tips for finding time to pray? If you are participating in the prayer journaling challenge, how is it going?