Sunday Sermon: ‘Why Did Daniel Pray?’

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David Jeremiah wrote in his book, Prayer, The Great Adventure’ –

“I scoured the New Testament some time ago, looking for things God does in ministry that are not prompted by prayer.  Do you know what I found?  Nothing.  I don’t mean I had trouble in finding an item or two; I mean I found nothing.  Everything God does in the work of ministry, He does through prayer.”

Whenever I think of prayer, my mind immediately goes to Daniel. There are many great prayer warriors found in scripture. There is Epaphras that Pastor Zack spoke of last week; there is also Paul and Peter and the saints of the early church. Nehemiah was a great man of prayer and so was David. But one of my most favorite examples of prayer is the man scripture calls Daniel.

Daniel 6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

I. The Promotion of Daniel

A. Who Was Daniel?

Perhaps we should take a moment and ask – ‘Who was Daniel?’ Daniel was a man who lived about 600 years before the birth of Christ. He was a Jew, who as a young man, had been captured and carried off to Babylon to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. There is no indication that Daniel was ever permitted to return home. Most likely he spent the rest of his life in a foreign land. Yet the Lord had a very special purpose for Daniel’s life. The first chapter of the book of Daniel reveals that he was someone who loved the LORD. When tempted to compromise in his convictions, Daniel determined within himself that he would remain faithful to God. We read –

Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself …

That same dedication marked his entire life. As we will see in today’s study, even as someone now in his eighties, Daniel remained committed to God.

 B. Daniel promoted to a very high level

From what we have just read we see that Daniel was promoted to a very high-level position in the kingdom. Darius the king set 120 governors to manage his kingdom. Over these 120 men, he then placed 3 chief overseers. And over these chief overseers, Darius placed Daniel as their head. Much like Joseph in Egypt, Daniel was very important man.

II. The Plot Against Daniel

Daniel 9:4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

Those under Daniel were jealous of him and his position. No doubt many of these men were Persians. Others were probably Babylonians. Most likely they were thinking – “Who is this Jew to think that he might rule over us?” And thus they sought for a way to bring Daniel down.

Much like our politics today, Daniel’s enemies began to search to find some sort of dirt on Daniel, yet they could not find any. He was a man of complete integrity whose record was spotless. The reason Daniel was able to maintain such a spotless record was because he was committed to walk with God. Compromise was never an option for Daniel. Finally, after his enemies realized that there was no dirt to dig up, they decided to attack him in his faith.

Daniel 9:5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. 6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

Now that was a lie. There was one leading official who hadn’t agreed to this statue. Daniel hadn’t agreed to put King Darius ahead of his relationship with God. But Darius, no doubt blinded by his own ego, agreed to their suggestion without any though of Daniel.

8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

Daniel’s enemies had laid a clever trap. Once a law had been established by the Medes and Persians, it could not be changed or altered. It was written in stone. The law said that for thirty days, no man could ask anything of anyone except King Darius; which by the way tells us a lot about prayer. As John R. Rice wrote in his book on prayer – Prayer is Asking. Daniel’s enemies knew that Daniel was a man of prayer. They knew that he was a man who was completely dependent upon God. The question now was – what would Daniel do? Would he coward down to their scheme? Would he change his convictions? Would he stop his praying? Apparently his enemies believed that Daniel would continue to do what he had always done. They expected Daniel to continue to pray and they were exactly right.

III. The Prayer of Daniel

Daniel 9:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

What a wonderful verse of scripture! What a challenge to God’s people. What caused Daniel to do what he did? Let me suggest three reasons:

A. Because of His Convictions

Daniel was no coward when it came to his convictions. Regardless of what other might say or what the outcome might be, Daniel was determined to continue to pray.

He could have compromised. He could have reasoned that perhaps he should just shut his windows and pray in secret for the next thirty days. He could have found a more secluded place in his house. Yet Daniel knew that all eyes were on him and so he continued to do what he had always done. He knelt before his open window and prayed, not once, but three times a day.

There have been many great saints of God who have held to their convictions. During the 2nd century, there was a Christian named Polycarp who had been a disciple of the Apostle John. Polycarp was arrested for his faith and sentenced to be burned at the stake. Many tried to persuade Polycarp to change his convictions, yet he responded-

 “For 86 years I have served Christ, and He has never done me wrong; how then can I now blaspheme my King and Saviour?”

We need more men like Polycarp and Daniel.

B. Because of His Consistency

Daniel continued to pray because of his convictions. He also continued to pray because of his consistency.

Why did Daniel go home and pray? Was it an open act of defiance? Maybe that was part of it, but the primary reason Daniel went home and prayed because this is who he was and it was what he did. It wasn’t a matter of beginning to pray, but continuing to pray. For years, perhaps decades, Daniel had knelt three times a day and prayed.

Daniel 9:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Someone estimated that if Daniel was 85 years old and had prayed three times a day for those most of his life, he had perhaps prayed over 90,000 prayers. Praying was as much a part of his life as breathing. The Bible says that he prayed three times a day; no doubt – morning, noon and night.

1. He began each day with a time of prayer, seeking guidance

Every believer should reaffirm at the beginning of every day their dependence upon God. We should thank God for the health to get out of bed and we should ask for the strength that will be needed for that day. The Psalmist said –

Psalm 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

We would do well to follow Daniel’s example and not wait until we find ourselves in the lion’s den to begin to pray. We should be praying even before the lions wake up.

Abraham Lincoln once said – “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” No amount of time spent with God at the beginning of each day will ever be wasted. No doubt many of our days would go much better if we first sharpened the axe before we went out to chop down the trees.

2. Returned at the middle of the day, drawing strength

David also wrote –

Psalm 55:17 … morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

David and Daniel and no doubt many others paused in the middle of the day to refocus. No doubt through Daniel’s noontime prayers, he found the strength he needed to continue to do God’s will.

Many years ago I spent my entire lunch time each day reading, eating lunch and talking to God. It was my mid-day meal with God and to be honest, I probably have never been closer to God than then.

3. Returned at the end of the day, finding rest 

At the close of each day, Daniel took some additional time to talk to God. What in the world would a man pray about at the end of the day? Perhaps there was confession that needed to be done. Maybe there was also some comfort that needed to be felt so that he could have a good night’s sleep. I would also imagine that a big part of his prayers involved a thank you to God for His faithfulness.

I’m sure that praying three times a day might seem a bit much to some, but imagine how it would change our lives if we took just three minutes three times a day and talked to God about what is happening in our lives? I believe that it would change everything.

 C. Because of His Confidence

There is a third reason why Daniel was such a prayer warrior. Daniel did what he did because of his confidence. Daniel believed that God and answered prayer. Daniel believed that there was power in prayer. Again let’s look at our passage –

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

Daniel prayed before an open window, but more importantly Daniel prayed before an open window that faced Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a long ways away. It had been nearly seventy years since Daniel had last been in Jerusalem. Yet three times a day, every day, Daniel got down on his knees and prayed towards Jerusalem. Why is that so important?

To understand the reasoning for why Daniel was doing what he was doing, we have to go all the way back to the book of 2 Chronicles. Solomon, the son of David, built the temple in Jerusalem. After he had completed his work, Solomon prayed to God. Here is a part of his prayer –

2 Chronicles 6:36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; 37 Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying , We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; 38 If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: 39 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee.

Solomon knew that eventually the Israelites were going to mess-up. He knew that they were going to sin against God and that God would have to chasten them. Part of that chastening would be their being taken into captivity. Daniel’s seventy years in Babylon was proof that Solomon’s fears were real. Daniel had spent most of his entire life in Babylon because his ancestors had disobeyed God.

Yet both Solomon and Daniel believed something that about God that makes prayer powerful. Here is the reason why prayer is so powerful. The power of prayer is that Almighty God desires to be gracious to those who need His help. Help is only a prayer away. Solomon prayed – “If they mess up and turn back to You, please forgive them of their sins and bring them back home.” For seventy years Daniel had been praying that same prayer and here’s why. After Solomon prayed his prayer, God responded and here is what He said –

2 Chronicles 7:12 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

If they turn back to Me, I will turn back to them.

Conclusion

˜ Why did Daniel pray? He believed that the Almighty God of this universe loves to hear & answer the humble and sincere cries of His people who are seeking His help

Several months ago Josh and Amy showed me a booklet that their pastor had prepared for their church. It was entitled – “40 DAYS OF PRAYER, HEARING GOD 2012.”  It was a forty day devotional on prayer. He then challenged his people to pray.

The moment I saw that booklet I knew in my heart that we needed something very similar. I asked for permission to use this booklet as a basis to prepare a prayer journal for us as a church family. Part of it, with their gracious permission, comes from them; part of it is what I have written myself. What it involves is a verse or two of scripture each day, a few lines of challenge and then an encouragement to pray in a specific way.

As I have worked on this over the past couple of months, I have often been very excited. Many of your faces came to my mind and I have thought about how powerful it could be if each of us would make a commitment to join together for the next forty days to pray for our church, those who need to come to Christ, our families, and our nation. Will you join me? Will you commit to take a few moments each day and pray like Daniel and Epaphras? Will you go with me and others on this forty day journey. I have been praying that you will.

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