But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, 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
The society lady told the brilliant pianist, “Maestro, you’re a genius.” The maestro replied with a smile, “Thank you, madam, but before I was a genius I was a bore.” His apparently effortless artistry was the product of hours and hours of unseen, disciplined practice. Our world applauds the glitter of genius, but it does not always appreciate the drudgery of discipline.
When trouble comes we react—sometimes with courage, sometimes with cowardice. Occasionally when the pressure is on we instinctively know exactly what to do. At other times we flounder. To a large extent our reaction has been determined before the pressure arrives. As with the artist who has practiced, it is the hidden hours of discipline that determine our performance under pressure.
Daniel was under the gun. His impeccable behavior and outstanding abilities, his disciplined commitment to principle, and his remarkable success had made him plenty of friends—and not a few enemies. His enemies, out of anger and jealousy, manipulated the king to get rid of him. Daniel was subjected to persecution when his freedom of religion was taken away with the stroke of a pen (6:6-9).
But Daniel was conditioned by disciplined practice. While he was concerned for the well-being of Babylon, his exile home, he had made no secret of his commitment to Jerusalem. Three times a day he opened the windows of his prayer room to face the city of his heart and publicly expressed his devotion to Yahweh, the Lord, who had chosen Jerusalem to be the center of his earthly activities. So when trouble came, discipline took over: “When Daniel learned that the law had been signed, 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” (6:10). In Daniel’s hour of challenge, it was the habit formed by disciplined practice that kept him faithful.
We may minimize the dangers Daniel faced, because we know he escaped death at the jaws of the lions. But the reality is that Daniel confronted prejudice, intolerance, hatred, persecution, and injustice without sacrificing an ounce of faithfulness. And he did it because discipline had produced habits, and habits had been transformed into character. He knew how to stand tall and firm on well-worn knees!
For Further Study: Daniel 6:1-28