I’m not a prophet, but let me make a prophecy I think you can take to the bank: If you wait until the hour of trial to decide how you’ll respond, you will fail. Do you want to know that you’ll have courage to stand when everybody around you is doing the wrong thing, to maintain your integrity when the temptation to cheat is overwhelming, or to live out your convictions when everybody around you tells you that you’re crazy? Do you want to know if you’ll maintain your confession of faith in a hostile environment?
I can predict all that, because what you’ll do in those situations is determined by what you’re doing now. Courage isn’t conjured up in the heat of the moment; to have courage comes from consistency in the prayer closet.
High school and college students, you want to know that you’ll have courage to maintain your confession of faith when your friends mock you for remaining sexually pure or your professor mocks you for choosing faith over science or reason. That will be determined not by what you think you’ll decide in the moment but by whether you are now developing small, consistent habits of obedience, like a daily time of prayer.
For those of you in the workplace, you want to know that you will be able to walk away or speak up when your colleagues start to gossip or talk badly about your boss. Parents, you want to have courage to speak truth to your children in love, even when the truth hurts.
To have courage in those moments is determined by the first thing you choose to do when you get out of bed tomorrow morning, and every morning after that.
Courage in the lions’ den comes from consistent prayer. Daniel didn’t summon up courage the moment he was thrown in the lions’ den. His courage was the result of years and years of small, faithful acts of discipline that resulted in a pattern of faithfulness.
Daniel had pre-decided to follow Jesus, and that was demonstrated by regularly meeting with God to pour out his problems to him.
My dad used to say, “Son, if you wait until the moment of temptation to decide if you’ll remain sexually pure, you’ll always make the wrong decision. Decide now, and begin to walk with God, and when the hour of temptation comes, God will give you the resources to overcome.”
Courage is developed through a lifetime of small, consistent decisions. It doesn’t happen overnight. But the small act you start today, like devoting five minutes a day to prayer, and practice every day for a length of time will create a pattern of obedience that will be programmed into your heart.
Decide today how you will respond later by being faithful in prayer.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.