************ Sermon on Daniel 6:10 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 14, 1998
"Perseverance in Prayer"
Subtopic: Power of
Have you ever watched a bird sleeping on its perch and never falling off? How does it manage to do this?
The secret is the tendons of the bird's legs. They are so constructed that when the leg is bent at the knee, the claws contract and grip like a steel trap. The claws refuse to let go until the knees are unbent again. The bended knee gives the bird the ability to hold on to his perch so tightly.
From sleeping birds we can learn the secret of hanging on to a life with God. That secret is the knee bent in prayer. It is only when we bend our knees before God in prayer that we can hang on to a life with Him.
The theme of Vacation Bible School during the next week is prayer. The children and leaders will learn all about prayer.
One man who knew all about prayer was Daniel. Scripture tells us everyone agreed that Daniel was an exceptional and distinguished man; even his enemies could find nothing to charge him with. We know one of the main reasons for this was because Daniel clung to God in prayer. This morning, as part of our preparation for VBS, we will take a closer look at Daniel's prayer life.
I Faithful in Prayer
A In Daniel 6 we see a clever plot on the part of Satan to outlaw prayer. The administrators and satraps of Persia wanted to outlaw prayer so that they could get rid of Daniel. The Devil, however, had an entirely different goal in mind. He didn't care at all about Daniel. Whether Daniel stayed in power or not was not important to him. What the Devil wanted to do was stop the prayer of Daniel and God's people. So the Devil used the jealousy and pettiness of the officials to have a decree passed forbidding prayer to God; instead, for 30 days everyone in the kingdom was to pray to the king; for 30 days there was to be one empire and one religion; for 30 days the king got to play god. And whoever prayed to any god or man other than the king was to be thrown into the lions' den. These were big lions, hungry lions, lions waiting for supper. Anyone thrown into their den was sure to be torn limb from limb and devoured on the spot.
Why was and is the Devil so opposed to prayer? The prince of this world is not afraid of soldiers in full battle dress, but he does tremble before powerless old men on their knees in prayer. He knows that the strength of God's children is found in prayer. He knows that the life and future of the church is dependent upon prayer. He knows that God gives His grace and Spirit and gifts only to those who unceasingly ask for them and give thanks for them in prayer. He knows it is the secret to hanging on to God. Samuel Chadwick said:
Subtopic: Exhortations to
"The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray."
B The decree outlawing prayer is passed. So what does Daniel do? Scripture tells us Daniel's reaction:
(Dan 6:10) Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.Notice, Daniel's reaction to the fearsome decree is to do exactly what it forbids.
Don't forget who we are talking about here. We are talking about Daniel the great statesman. We are talking about a Daniel who is the second most important man in the kingdom. At first, Daniel's course of action might appear senseless to us. After all, it might be argued, a live Daniel is better than a dead one. A live Daniel can work quietly in the background as the light of the world and the salt of the earth whereas a dead Daniel does no one any good. Wouldn't a live Daniel be a powerful force for good in heathen Babylon? How can Daniel be so dumb as to get caught? Why doesn't he pray in secret for a while? Can't he go even 30 days without prayer?
Why does Daniel pray even though the law commands death for those who do? Daniel, like Peter 6 centuries later, makes a conscious decision to obey God rather than man (cf Acts 4:18-20). No matter how many unalterable laws of the Medes and Persians stand in his way, he gives priority to the law of God.
You see, the child of God is commanded to pray. This is a command of Jesus we cannot get around; it's a mandate for anyone and everyone who believes. For the true child of God there is no room for compromise when it comes to prayer.
For the true child of God all the manmade laws of the world cannot put an end to prayer. It is a life-giving river that cannot be checked, a blazing fire that no amount of water can put out. The very idea of forbidding prayer is laughable. You might as well as command the lightning to stop and the thunder to be silent! The decrees of the Medes and Persians may include the death penalty for those who go on praying, but anyone who stops praying has already signed his own death warrant for eternity. Prayer, after all, is the very breath of the soul. It is the secret to hanging on to God.
Subtopic: Exhortations to
Charles Spurgeon said, "I would rather teach one man to pray than 10 men to preach."
And Andrew Murray said, "The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history."
What it comes down to is that prayer simply can't be stopped. It is too important, too vital, in the life of God's children. Daniel can not stop praying even if there are as many hungry lions in the den as there are shingles on the roof. Just as the heart's natural impulse is to beat so Daniel's natural impulse – whether or not a decree has been signed – is to go to his house and pray. It is the secret to hanging on to God.
C Scripture tells us that Daniel knows exactly what he is doing when he goes to his room to pray. We read that he goes home to pray when he learns that the decree has been published. In other words, Daniel knows that the decree has become law.
Do you realize what this means? It means that Daniel has not fallen into a trap. It means that Daniel cannot excuse himself by saying he doesn't know about the law. No, Daniel knows about the decree. Yes, he has already considered the consequences of punishment. Daniel knows that by going to his upper room he is putting his life on the line. When he walks up the stairs Daniel knows that he is walking to the gallows. Nonetheless, he prays just as he has always done.
This sort of attitude and behavior amazes us today. We can't imagine anyone making such a decision without being torn by inner conflicts. Yet the Bible says nothing about such matters. I suspect this is so because Daniel has no misgivings. If someone then had asked Daniel about the conflicts in his soul, Daniel probably would have opened his eyes wide in amazement and asked, "What conflicts? For me there is only one thing to do!"
What a man of God Daniel is! What weaklings we are in comparison! We see problems everywhere. We can talk ourselves into a dozen ways of not doing the only right thing.
D Do you know what we have to say about Daniel's prayer life? We have to say that Daniel perseveres in prayer. Even though prayer is forbidden by death, Daniel keeps on praying. Like a small child, he kneels down before God 3 times a day, every day of every year. Daniel is persistent in prayer.
A number of years ago a Christian in Dallas sold his business at a loss, went into vocational Christian work, and things got rather rough financially. There were four kids in the family. One night at family devotions, Timmy, the youngest boy, said, "Daddy, do you think Jesus would mind if I asked Him for a shirt?"
"Well, no, of course not. Let's write that down in our prayer request book."
So Timmy's mom wrote down "shirt for Timmy" and she added "size seven." Every day after that Timmy saw to it that they prayed for the shirt. One Saturday, several weeks later, the mother received a telephone call from a clothing store in downtown Dallas owned by a Christian businessman. "I've just finished my July clearance sale and knowing that you have four boys it occurred to me that you could use something we have left. Could you use some boy's shirts?"
She said, "What size?"
"How many do you have?" she asked hesitantly.
He said, "Twelve."
Many of us might have taken the shirts, stuffed them in the bureau drawer, and made some casual comment to the child. Not this wise set of parents. That night, as expected, Timmy said, "Don't forget, Mommy, let's pray for the shirt."
Mommy said, "We don't have to pray for the shirt, Timmy,"
"The Lord has answered your prayer."
"Right." So, as previously arranged, brother Tommy goes out and gets one shirt, brings it in, and puts it down on the table. Little Timmy's eyes are like saucers. Tommy goes out and gets another shirt and brings it in. Out - back, out - back, until he piles 12 shirts on the table, and Timmy thinks God has gone into the shirt business. But you know, there is now a little boy in Dallas by the name of Timmy who believes in the power of persistent prayer to a loving God Who has the time for little boys.
God wants us to pray. He commands us to pray. What does He look for in prayer?
Topic: EarnestnessGod saw that kind of prayer from His servant Daniel. Does He find that kind of prayer from you?
Subtopic: In Prayer
... not the arithmetic of our prayers, how many they are; nor the rhetoric of our prayers, how eloquent they are; nor the geometry of our prayers, how long they be; nor the music of our prayers, how sweet our voice may be; nor the logic of our prayers, how argumentative they may be; nor the method of our prayers, how orderly they may be; nor the poetry of our prayers, how beautiful they may be. What God looks for is fervency in prayer. What God looks for is persistence in prayer. What God looks for is people who pray and keep on praying even in the face of persecution and death.
II Posture in Prayer
A Persistence is not the only thing we can learn from Daniel about prayer. We can also learn from Daniel's posture in prayer. There are 3 things we can say about his posture.
First, we are told that Daniel "got down on his knees and prayed." Daniel's prayer was a humble prayer. The Bible includes this detail because it's also possible for someone to stand on his feet during prayer. The Pharisees did that in the temple to make sure that everyone saw and heard them. But Daniel, he prays on his knees. His attitude, like the tax-collector's, is that of a humble sinner before God. A humble believer on his knees always confesses his sins before God. And, even the holiest among us – or better, especially the holiest among us – can find sin enough to get down on their knees before God everyday.
B Second, we are told that Daniel prayed in an upstairs room "where the windows opened toward Jerusalem." Because of sin Jerusalem lay in ruins and her people were in exile. But that's not what Daniel is thinking of and praying about while on his knees. Not at all. Daniel is thinking and praying about God's marvellous promises to restore Jerusalem and return her people from exile.
Seen in this manner, Daniel's prayer is a prayer of faith. If Daniel could see Jerusalem, all he would see was a heap of ruins. But by faith, clinging to the promises of God, Daniel prays for what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined.
I am sure you realize that, like Daniel, we also by faith are to pray for the fulfillment of God's covenant promises in and through Christ. I think of such promises of God as: the promise of forgiveness because of Christ's death and resurrection if only we repent and believe, the promise of Christ's Holy Spirit doing His work within us, the promise of life everlasting, the promise of Christ's return, the promise of a new heaven and new earth.
C Third, we are told that Daniel got down on his knees "three times a day." The Israelites were supposed to pray three times a day, and that's exactly what Daniel did. With the regularity of a clock, he knocked on heaven's door at fixed hours.
Many fear that if prayer is not spontaneous, it is not heart-felt and is but mere habit. However, Christians throughout the ages have found that if prayer time is not fixed, it often is not done.
In 1989, Catherine Marshall was newly remarried and trying to raise three stepchildren. With much to pray about, she and husband Len LeSourd, nonetheless, could not find time to pray. So they began The Coffeepot Experiment, in which an automatically timed percolator would aromatically wake them every morning at six. Feeling sleepily peaceful, they gave themselves fully to God in prayer. His peace then stayed with them all day. The best time for prayer, Catherine concluded, isn't found. It's made.
D Finally, from Daniel we learn the importance of thankfulness in prayer. We are told that Daniel got down on his knees and prayed, "giving thanks to his God." "Prayer," says the Catechism, "is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us" (A 116). Think of that! No word of complaint, no childish whining, no grumbling at the circumstances that lead him to put his life on the line – just praise for God's goodness.
In Christ we have even more to be thankful for than Daniel does. So our prayers should be filled with expressions of thanks and praise.
Those of you leading VBS, think about Daniel as you teach the boys and girls about prayer. You can't go wrong if you remember what Daniel teaches us about prayer.
But now let me ask everyone here about their own personal prayer life.
Topic: PrayerDo you communicate with heaven? Do you pray continuously and persistently? Do you pray regularly and humbly, with faith in God's promises, and filled with gratitude for His blessings? Do you, like Daniel, hang on to a life with God in prayer?
C.H. Spurgeon once said, "Prayer pulls the rope down below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly; others give only an occasional jerk at the rope. But he who communicates with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously with all his might."
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