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While studying the book of Daniel I came across:

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.

and since it is necessary that Muslims face mecca when praying I wondered if that was some ritual that all exiles followed or if it was only a custom of Daniel.

I checked this question but it does not address my point, Why did Daniel feel the need to pray towards Jerusalem, even at the cost of his own life?

Does anyone know the answer to my question or where I might find some guidance on this?

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    Interestingly, Muhammad himself prayed towards Jerusalem until about his second year in Medina; then he started praying towards Mecca.
    – Wtrmute
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 19:10

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Joyce Baldwin's commentary on Daniel says (pg. 129):

Verse 10 supplies welcome evidence concerning prayer habits during the later biblical period. Windows . . . open toward Jerusalem is a literal understanding of Solomon's petition [at the dedication of the temple], 'When [foreigners] hear about your great reputation and your ability to accomplish mighty deeds, they will come and direct their prayers toward this temple. Then listen from your heavenly dwelling place and answer all the prayers of the foreigners.' (1 Ki. 8:41-43; cf. 2 Ch. 6:34) [Baldwin quotes the KJV, but I added more context and changed it to the NET.] The fact that Jerusalem was in ruins called forth faith that it would again be restored because the God who had set His name on the city was the continuing, unchanging God, in control of history (Ps. 106:44-47; Lam. 3:31-33). Prayer towards Jerusalem is mentioned also in later Greek books: Tobit 3:11; 1 Esdras 4:58.

The Pulpit Commentary on the verse says, "The practice of prayer 'toward Jerusalem' is acknowledged to have arisen in Babylon during the Captivity."

John Gill's commentary says:

opened "towards Jerusalem"; not towards the king's palace, as if he prayed to him, and so eluded the decree; nor towards the east, as the Heathens did; but towards Jerusalem, which lay to the south of Babylon; and that, either because of his remembrance of that city, his affection to it, and concern for its re-edification; or having some respect to the words of Solomon, 1 Kings 8:33, &c.; and so, according to the Jewish writers, it was the custom of their people. Ben Gersom, on the above place, says, that though they did not pray within the temple, yet they prayed, turning themselves towards it, as much as possibly they could; and even when it was destroyed, as now, yet they in praying turned to the place where it had stood, as Saadiah, Aben Ezra, and Jarchi observe: and chiefly Daniel did this, because the temple was a type of Christ, through whom the persons and prayers of the saints are acceptable unto God.

The Talmud records conflicting opinions on whether Jews should pray toward Jerusalem, and at one point says they are to "mentally turn" toward Jerusalem.

Conclusion: Daniel wasn't the only one who prayed toward Jerusalem during the exile, and many Jews do so today. But it doesn't appear to have been a universal practice, just a common one. He appears to have done so not in compliance with his understanding of the law, but out of remembrance of the temple and defiance of those who competed for his allegiance to God.

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Great question! I too am seeking on clarity of the text that shows/implies that God's people were choosing to pray facing toward Jerusalem. In my study, I did find that King David also followed this practice (1035 BC-961 BC estimate of King Davids lifetime). Psalm 5:7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple."

I find this a bit out of context, as there was not a temple built during that time. David's son Solomon was chosen by God to build the "official" first temple (1 Chronicles 28:6 And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father).

King David did have in his possession the Ark of the Covenant and he had also erected a Tent of Meeting as the dwelling place for the Ark and the other items the Levite priests used in the service of God. He had intended to build a lavish temple and had amassed quite a bit of wealth and materials which were slated to be used for this purpose (1 Chronicles 22:5).

In my personal experience, I have met and fellowship with some who say the Amidah facing an eastward direction. Others simply say their prayers without regard to a specific facing direction.

As an aside, King David also followed the same prayer protocol as the prophet Daniel to pray 3 times daily in the evening, morning and afternoon (Psalm 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice).

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Praying three times a day is an oral tradition of observing Jewish people. You won't find it in the Torah. Here you do read why Daniel is willing to give his life for keeping this commandment.

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  • Thanks for answering this question and welcome to our site! I hope you will stick around. This question seems to be focused on the prayer direction rather than just praying each day, so modifying your answer to address this part of the question would be nice. I think you may be able to bring some valuable insight into this question, and I hope you will support your answer with external sources too! Learn more here and here. Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 3:30

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