Written by Michelle DeRusha
When I get crazy busy, as is usually the case this time of year, the first activities on the chopping block are exercise and spiritual practices. Not only do I indulge in extra slices of apple pie and then not lace up my running shoes, I also tend to stay up later and sleep in – thus skipping my morning Bible-reading and quiet prayer time.
This, I’ve learned the hard way, is not a good thing. Skipping exercise leads to tight pants. And skipping time with God creates unbalance in my life. Suddenly, I’m more prone to grouchiness, less patient with the kids, more likely to complain and fret, less able to see the positive in my life. It seems that my morning ritual, just a half-hour or so of contemplative time with God, is the glue that holds everything together.
I thought about that this week when I read the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. We’re all familiar with the story (in fact, I can sing the Raffi version ad nauseum, if you so please), but this time when I read it, one important aspect of the story stood out. The text reads that after Daniel heard about the new law forbidding prayer, “he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” (Daniel 6:10)
Did you catch that? It says it twice, to ensure we don’t miss it: “he knelt down as usual in his upstairs room,” and “prayed three times a day, just as he had always done…”
Daniel had a ritual, and he stuck to it. He prayed three times a day – at the same time, in the same place, day in and day out. Even when life got dicey, he kept to his routine. Praying kept Daniel steady in the face of fear and hopelessness. He didn’t let circumstances interfere with his prayer life, because prayer was Daniel’s lifeline to God. No matter what, Daniel took time to give thanks to God.
I don’t face anything like the kind of threat Daniel faced in my own day-to-day life, yet I’m all too likely to relinquish my time with God when life gets crazy. It seems, though, that I might learn something from Daniel. Making time for God, especially when it feels inconvenient, may, in fact, save my life.
Or at the very least my sanity.
What’s your method for making your God-time a practice you stick with?