This article is part of our Longyear for Kids series, written with a younger audience in mind. See other articles in the series here.
Mary Baker was the youngest of her brothers and sisters growing up on the Baker farm in the 1820s in the hills of Bow, New Hampshire. The family rode to town in a wagon. They had fireplaces for heat, oil lamps for light, and each other for chats, games, and reading aloud. Mary liked playing with Abi and Martha, her two older sisters. She liked to help in the kitchen and the barn, and she liked to read and be read to – stories, poems, and the Bible.
The Bible was important to Mary, and to her family and friends and neighbors. Mary lived by its rules, and she loved its stories. When she was very young, her mother read her the Bible story of Daniel. This man, many centuries ago, loved God and prayed to Him three times every day. Daniel was a Hebrew captive of the king of Persia (the country we call Iran today). Back then, the Persians worshipped many gods, but the king liked and respected Daniel. He put him in charge of the other officials in his court. The Persian courtiers weren’t happy having a foreigner in command, so they made a plan to get rid of Daniel. They talked the king into making prayers to Daniel’s God a crime. The punishment for this crime was to be locked up in a den of man-eating lions! Daniel kept praying anyway – faithfully, three times every day. So the courtiers arrested him and threw him into the lions’ den. He was in there all night. In the morning, the king came anxiously to the entrance and called out, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” Daniel answered calmly, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.”1 Things were good for Daniel after that.
Mary loved this story, especially the part about Daniel praying three times a day. She made up her mind that she would do that, too, just like Daniel – except that she would pray seven times a day. So every day she went out to the woodshed, where she could be alone and prayed. Each time, she marked the shed wall with a piece of chalk, to keep track of her prayers. Many years later, when Mary was known as Mary Baker Eddy, her face lit up as she remembered the earnest little farm girl she had been. “Just think of that little tot,” she said to one of her students, “praying seven times a day and making a record of each prayer so she would not miss one!”2
At a particularly difficult time in her life, Mary Baker Eddy was given a large, framed picture of Daniel in the lions’ den giving his answer to the king.3 Naturally, she loved it. She had it hung on a wall in her home.
When she felt worn down by troubles, she would go and stand before the picture. She told a friend that she would “study anew the calm manner in which Daniel paid no heed to the lions or seeming danger, letting his dear heavenly Father care for the ferocious beasts and keep them at a safe distance. With new and fresh courage, she would return to her work with a heart full of joy and gratitude for His protecting care.”4
Later, she moved the picture to her bedroom wall, right at the foot of her bed. It would have been one of the first things she saw in the morning and one of the last things she saw at night. And all her life she continued turning to God in prayer many times a day – just like Daniel.
The artwork in Mary Baker Eddy’s home reflected her deeply Christian nature and her love of the Bible. Numerous paintings, prints, and sculptures offered images of familiar Bible characters – including Peter, John, and Jesus – and Bible scenes, with titles like “Mary and Joseph in Egypt,” “Head of Christ,” “David and Goliath,” and “The Woman from Revelation.”
If you would like to purchase a print of “Daniel’s Answer to the King,” click here to visit the Longyear Store.
To learn more about Mary and Daniel, click on the video clip below to watch an excerpt from “Follow and Rejoice” – Mary Baker Eddy: The Chestnut Hill Years, Longyear Museum’s latest historical documentary film!