I was reading through the book of Daniel the other day, and something stood out for me.
Daniel 6:10 (NASB)
“Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. ”
This was his response to the decree signed by Darius that outlawed praying to any unapproved god. There are many lessons to be taken from this verse, let alone the entire book, but what was pressed upon my heart was the fact that he prayed three times a day. These weren’t casual prayers as he went about his business – he put aside time to spend with God three times each day. This was customary for him, but as I thought about that, a phrase came to mind:
May God be first in all that you do.
That sentence just kept pulsing in my head. It’s an interesting concept, one that I think most true Christians would consider right on, but what does it mean in practice? My thoughts kept returning to the thrice-a-day prayers of Daniel, in the face of certain death for doing so. At the root of the matter, it was a priority above all others, for him. The “great” people of the Bible weren’t so because of any other reason than that they put God first in their life.
There are many aspects of what this can mean, but what got me thinking about it was in terms of my private life. Do I set aside quiet time to talk with God three times a day? Do I barely manage to do it once? It’s a matter of priority that I hope to continue to shift. My Bible reading took a HUGE hit when I got mired in the bog of poetic and “instruction” books, but when I saw that I had hit Daniel the other day, my excitement for it suddenly came bounding back. I’m eager to be reading again, I have taken the topics of my prayers into a revitalized consideration (as mentioned last time), and now I’m hoping to make more time in my life to dedicate to it all.
I hear the hoodlum in the back of the class shout, “…but you’re unemployed, all you HAVE is time,” but that has absolutely nothing to do with it. I don’t care how busy or empty one’s life is, if something is important enough to you – you’ll make the time to do it. That’s how you can tell what a person values, by what they put first. Even if it’s a job to pay the bills, that is their priority, and as I said, that’s what this is all about. As a personal endeavor, I hope to stretch myself even further in putting God first in every day of my life. I think He kinda deserves it.
P.S. – Since writing this entry (a couple of days before the post date), I have found myself in a downward slump. Yes, the unemployment, restlessness, and loneliness get to me, but I see no coincidence in the fact that these issues began to drag me down into an unhappy state JUST after I made this personal re-dedication. The enemy knows me well, and with a couple of lies, he can prey on my weakness – in this case, the Mark Mushakian classic of low confidence from being not good enough. Just thought this was a valuable coda to the post… a reminder to be ever aware.