DANIEL 6:10 (part one)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Daniel 6:10a (Holman) “When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

God lets His followers face situations where fun is not an option. We must sin or suffer. This was Daniel’s dilemma in our text. Once the decree forbidding prayer for 30 days was signed, he headed home to pray. He knew his duty.

I’m glad we weren’t there when Daniel arrived at his house. We would have been tempted to discourage him from fulfilling his responsibility. We often underestimate the importance of doing our duty.

A World War I chaplain, Studdert Kennedy, wrote from the trenches of France to his son:

The first prayer I want my son to learn to say for me is not “God keep Daddy safe” but “God make Daddy brave, and if he has hard things to do, make him strong to do them.” Life and death don’t matter, my son. Right and wrong do. Daddy dead is Daddy still, but Daddy dishonored before God is something awful, too bad for words. I suppose you’d like to put in a bit about safety, too. Well, put it in, but afterwards, always afterwards, because it really does not matter near so much.

Had we met Daniel at his door, we might have offered cowardly suggestions to keep him out of trouble. First, we might have counseled Daniel to hunker down. “Use evasive tactics, hide what you’re doing, pray in a different building, pray in the basement, don’t let the king know you are praying. Dodge, duck, delay.” Surely Daniel could find a way to stay out of Babylon for 30 days. He could take a leave of absence or use vacation time to visit his homeland.

We would have quickly reminded Daniel he could pray silently in his heart. Multitudes say religion should be only a private matter. Why not omit public prayer for 30 days and then double up the next 30 days? All these suggestions would have been an attempt to make Daniel look like an unbeliever even though he was a believer. Shame on us!

Daniel in the Old Testament knew more about serving God than do many Christians after the New Testament. He had learned inward, private religion is useless unless it publicly flows outward from us to captivate the world.

Christianity is a paradox. No religion is more intimate, personal, inward, and individualistic. Yet no religion is more demanding in its call for open, public, unashamed avowal from its followers.

In Christianity, prayer, Bible reading, and worship must be public as well as private. Our Master said, “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory” (Luke 9:26a).

Daniel would not cover up his faith. He refused to conceal from his enemies he was praying to God. To change his daily prayer routine would have discouraged other believers. Most important, it would have dishonored God.

Daniel lived the words of Jesus 500 years before they were spoken, “Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Daniel chose to let his light shine.

Fortunately, Daniel did not make the mistake of over-reacting in the opposite direction to the king’s decree. He did not make his personal devotions more public than before. He neither covered up nor glared up.

One would have been cowardice, the other ostentation. Daniel neither retreated nor blared a trumpet. He acted without disguise or pomp.

Two extremes threaten believers. Daniel avoided both, as should we. One, don’t hide. Our society pleads for mild exhibitions of Christian conviction. “Don’t be a fanatic or get carried away; don’t wear religion on your sleeve.”

This extreme hurts the Lord’s reputation. If our actions are our only public witness for Jesus, we receive credit for our goodness, rather than God receiving it.

Two, don’t parade. This extreme also vaunts self rather than honoring God. It is possible to develop a self-hero worship, to spout off about our godliness with a public self-congratulation that often results in pride, disastrous falls, or Pharisaism. Finding proper balance between hiding and parading is essential.

Had we met Daniel at his door, we might have, second, counseled Daniel to connive, seek revenge, retaliate. Surely he could scheme his way out of this. Chicanery, trickery, and getting even would have seemingly been justified.

Conniving and revenge would not do for Daniel, nor should they for us. Make sure all our plans and discussions honor God. Don’t let our interactions with unpleasant people degenerate into deceit, trickery, scheming, or retaliation.

Daniel yielded his actions to God. He was a contrast to Jacob, who masqueraded as his brother Esau to take his father’s blessing; to Laban, who often misrepresented the truth to Jacob; to Rebekah, who encouraged her son to lie; to Rachel, who retaliated against her father Laban by stealing his idols.

Daniel had studied these people’s lives. He knew the heartache scheming and revenge can bring. Daniel instead committed his way to the Lord.

Third, we might have counseled Daniel to close the windows. These windows opened toward Jerusalem are vital to this story. Closing them would seem minor to us, but Daniel would not close them when he prayed. Why?

First, Daniel was obeying Scripture. At the Temple dedication, Solomon prayed what Israel was to do if they were ever exiled due to sin. “When they return to You with their whole mind and heart in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and when they pray to You in the direction of their land that You gave their ancestors, the city You have chosen, and the temple I have built for Your name, may You hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, their prayer and petition and uphold their cause” (I Kings 8:48). Praying toward Jerusalem was to remind them what they lost due to their sin. Daniel’s windows being open toward Jerusalem during prayer was not mere sentiment but obedience to God’s Word.

Second, Daniel’s heart was knit with God’s people. Exiles had begun returning to Jerusalem. Daniel could not go, but did pray. He identified with God’s people. He was never ashamed of being a Jew. To close the windows would have symbolized disregard for God’s people. Baptism, regular church attendance, and kind deeds help us Christians show similar love for one another.

Third, praying toward Jerusalem made Daniel think of God. Looking toward God’s holy city helped Daniel forget his slavery and lose himself in a glorious splendor. Praying toward Jerusalem triggered thoughts of God.

Most believers have a “Jerusalem” in their lives that stirs slumbering spiritual chords in them. It may be a place, person, event, memory, prayer at meals, Mom’s Bible and prayers, a youth retreat, a song, a church in the country, a Pastor, a Sunday School teacher, a grave back home.

For Jacob it was Bethel; for Ahab it was Elijah; for David it was God’s house; for Paul it was the Damascus Road; for me a Bible verse, John 3:16, the text that brought me at age 6 to Jesus. At age 15, sitting in my regular pew, the back row, at a time when my devotion to Jesus was nil, I heard a sermon on John 3:16. Something was called forth from my childhood, a tugging I could not resist.

Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumbering chords again (Luther Bridges).

That morning I surrendered to preach. What used to stir your heart to God? Revisit it. Retrieve it. Years of stress and toil may have closed our prayer windows to the Word of God, His people, yea even to Him. Open the windows again. Come back. If we can remember a time when we were closer to God than we are now, we need to re-climb that highest height.

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried, that grace can restore,
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more (Fanny J. Crosby).

Has something closed our prayer windows? Stuff, sin, work, stress, hypocrites, disappointment? Somewhere along the way, did life become “lifey,” as Ed Meyer’s mom would say? Open the prayer windows to God again.