How Long Can You Go Without Praying?
Kind of a crazy question, isn't it? I probably should be asking how long can I pray continuously, and should keep trying to break whatever my standing record happens to be.
However, my first question is prompted by the story of Daniel and the lion's den (in Daniel 6). Every time I read this story, I can't help but wonder, "What would I do in this situation?"
For those unfamiliar with the story, here's quick summary:
Daniel is a high official in the Babylonian empire. Some very jealous political opponents want to ruin Daniel's life and career. Daniel is so honest and conscientious his opponents realize they'll never catch him in the normal kind of political scandals, so they hatch a plan. The plan is to trap Daniel in his religious devotion. They trick the king into signing a new law that appears to honor the king, but is really an attempt to nail Daniel. The new law says that no one can pray to anyone or anything, except the king, for 30 days. The punishment for disobeying this 30 day prayer law would be confinement in a certain den of lions.
What would you do? Seriously, if religious freedom here somehow eroded to the point where all prayer (public and private) was banned for 30 days, what would you do? What if the penalty for breaking this law was steep: A sentence of life in jail or the forfeiture of your job, business, or home?
Some Christians would pick up praying 31 days from now.
Others would pray very privately and attempt to never get caught.
A remnant of Christians would continue to pray publicly and privately regardless of the consequences.
We know which group Daniel was in, but do you know why? Catch his secret in Daniel 6:10:
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
If I pray erratically now, I can wait 30 days to pray again. I do it already sometimes.
If I only pray in certain situations, when it is safe and not embarrassing (never in a restaurant, never out loud or publicly), I will avoid prayer when the risks are this high.
However, if prayer is an essential habit of my life that I cannot imagine living without, I will pray regardless of the fallout.
You see, whatever our current "custom" is now, will dictate how we pray or do not pray in dire circumstances. So what do you think you would do? How long can you live without praying?
--Matt Gregory, Lead Pastor @ Soul Purpose Community Church