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Into the Fire #6: Unbroken | Daniel 6

Mary Ellen Ermis June 9, 2024 sermons, cityrise, Daniel, houston, Into the Fire, Roger Patterson, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, June 9, 2024 at our West U Baptist campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

“A Life of Steadfast Prayer”

It is good to be back home after a week in Kenya. We went to three cities and trained nearly 600 pastors.

Today, we engage with a familiar story that you may remember from your time in Sunday School as a little boy or girl. It is the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.

I want to set the stage for just a moment with you.

Notice Daniel 5:29-31.

Daniel 5:29-31

“Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.”

Daniel is promoted to the #3 spot in the kingdom because he told Belshazzar what the writing on the wall meant.

Then, Belshazzar, the Chaldean King was killed, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom.

This is the beginning point of the Medo-Persian Empire.

Now, let’s look at Daniel 6.

Daniel 6:1-3

“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.”

At this point in his life, Daniel is about 80 years of age. He has just received a promotion and there looks to be another one on the way. Essentially, he is going to be the Prime Minister of the Medo-Persian Empire.

Now, remember, Daniel’s name means ‘God is my judge.’

This is a pretty significant name to live up to, but what we see on the pages of scripture, is that Daniel sought to live this way.

  • Everything about his life said that what God thought was more important than what anyone else in the world thought.
  • Therefore, b/c he lived to please God alone, he daily consulted with God in prayer.

Today I want to focus on Daniel’s prayer life. It is a consistent theme in this book, because both the challenges that come Daniel’s way, and the visions and dreams that we see recorded in the book, all come to us because Daniel was a man who communed with God through prayer.

  • Daniel is now an old man who has made his mark on four generations of Babylonian kings.
  • His life was characterized by excellence and integrity which brought him many advancements….. (not by political maneuvers) (vs. 3) so we see that when God is in it good guys do not finish last!
  • He had yet another pending promotion (vs. 3). Things were going really well for Daniel, he had an upright reputation.
  • And then along comes more persecution… (vs. 4-9)

Let’s read Daniel 6:4-9.

Daniel 6:4-9

“Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.”

Daniel’s adversaries set out to put him into and impossible position so that he could be prosecuted and stripped of his position.  We should not be surprised that persecution and the testing of Daniel’s resolve is a part of his story!

In most instances in scripture where someone was doing something great with their life, we find resistance.

  • We saw this in Joseph’s and Moses’ story, Nehemiah, the prophets, Jesus and the disciples, Paul and those who accompanied him on his journey.
  • According to biblical examples, comfort and safety is typically not much a part of the story of those who live on mission with God.

John 15:18-19

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Matthew 5:11-12

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Jesus says that you are blessed when you are reviled, persecuted, and evil things are said against you. The instruction from Jesus is to rejoice and be glad, because there is a great reward in heaven!

Essentially, Jesus is saying that this is the natural course for those who stand out and stand up for him. It is what comes with the territory.

It is interesting to also note that the ONLY thing these 120 rulers of the kingdom could accuse Daniel of was a matter of his faith. What a compliment! Can we live with such holiness before both God and country, that they only thing people can say is something about our Lord?

Someone once said…“In the face of adversity, character is either forged or foiled.”

Look at verse 9 again.

Daniel 6:9

“Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.”

So, the trap is set, the decree is signed, Daniel has a decision to make….

  • Will he honor the decree?
  • Will he just tone down his public prayer habits?
  • Will he just stop for a while til things settle down?
  • Or will he remain steadfast and faithful to his prayer disciplines?

For Daniel, it was not only a question about whether or not to pray (in public), but it was a question of compromising his highest allegiance to God.  Remember his name, God is my judge….

Notice how the Apostles in the early church also had this concern and commitment.

Acts 4:13-20

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Who are we committed to being the most faithful to?

The world is going to ask you to adopt pronouns, embrace their ideology, and just stand aside.

But notice what Daniel does.

Daniel 6:10

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”

Daniel doesn’t adopt their practices, embrace their ideology, or stand aside.

No, Daniel…Daniel, kneels down!

Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary on Daniel, says…

(Daniel 6:10–13, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament):

Daniel was one of the first ones to hear of the new decree, and he had to decide what to do. Of course, his godly character and spiritual walk had already decided for him: he would serve the Lord and pray to Jehovah just as he had always done. He could have made excuses and compromised. “Everybody was doing it.” And he was an old man who had served the Lord faithfully all his life. One little compromise at the end of his life could not do too much damage. Could he not be more useful to the Lord alive than dead? No. Daniel refused to compromise. He chose rather to be eaten by lions than to miss one prayer meeting.

One of the best things that we can do when we are under pressure is stay consistent with our spiritual disciplines. Our time of private worship is vital to our well-being.

So, what is it that we can learn about Daniel’s prayer life that can inform us along our way?

First, let’s look at the posture of his prayer life.

  • The posture of his prayer life.
  • He knelt down…

Have you ever stopped to think about the significance of various postures of prayer?  In the bible we see several: kneeling, lying flat on your face, standing with hands lifted high…

Now we typically teach in our New Testament era that you don’t have to assume any certain form to pray…. (driving down the road….)

This is true, but posture certainly communicates something about the heart.

One of the things that helps our prayer discipline is that we have a place that is our space where we can get on our face.

The posture of prayer demonstrates a dependency.

  • To have a designated place and time demonstrated Daniels intentionality.
  • To kneel on his knees multiple times every day demonstrated his humility.

By kneeling down, he was saying God you are exalted high and I am bowed low.  God you are God, you are greater, you are wiser, you are stronger, God I submit to you. 

Daniel’s Prayer Posture was one of Dependence!

And here is what Dr. Charles Stanley says…“You can’t live this life without being dependent on God. He designed life so that we would be dependent on him.”

I Peter 5:6 says…

1 Peter 5:6

 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,”

Prayer is about submission, not about selfishness.

Is there a posture to your prayer life? I want to challenge you this week to carve out some time to pray on your knees…lying flat…on your face before the Lord. Get low, and demonstrate your dependence!

Let’s look at this second observation of Daniel’s prayer life.

Notice the Disposition of his prayer life.

Daniel 6:10

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” 

Note also that Daniel “gave thanks” to God every day throughout the day.

His disposition was one of gratitude.

  • He came before God with a grateful heart. He was thankful for what he had long before he petitioned God for anything further.
  • Daniel was able to count his blessings. He was able to see with a mature perspective that he had much to be thankful for.
  • This is the way the scriptures beckon us to pray.

Don’t miss this — when the pressure is coming…when the pressure is dialing up…when the pressure is increasing, he prays…but before he asks for rescue or anything else, he knows he needs to spend time with God. He knows he needs to thank God for who He is and what He does.

  • 23 times in the book of Psalms alone we hear the words “give thanks”

Colossians 4:2

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

And look at the formula for peace that Philippians 4 gives us.

Philippians 4:6-7

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Listen to Wiersbe’s encouragement here…“His enemies watched as Daniel went to his prayer chamber where the windows were always open … and they could see him kneel and lift up his hands toward Jerusalem. Now they had him. But Daniel had peace in his heart. He was praying, giving thanks, and making supplication, and this is the formula for peace (Phil. 4:6–7). This was not a “crisis prayer meeting”; Daniel was used to praying and had been since he was a teenager.”

Daniel was a man at peace because he was a man in prayer. And this peace came because he was thankful…and in giving thanks, its obvious just how big God is and how small everything else is in comparison!

The third thing we see in regard to Daniel’s Prayer life is…

  • The priority of his prayer life. — Daniel chose that regardless of the extenuating circumstances, he would still CHOOSE to pray.

Daniel 6:11-15

“Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

Notice the threat, but also notice that Daniel doesn’t change course. And Frankly, this is what these guys were betting on. They were betting on Daniel going to be found praying three times a day! 

It’s like a SIN-TAX. Do you all remember the Sin-Tax — a special tax on Cigarettes or Alcohol?

The idea is that the government sees an opportunity to bring in a whole lot of extra money by levying a special tax…they say, “This tax will help people quit this bad habit, or it will discourage people from engaging in the bad habit.”

But all along, they know…we are guaranteed a vast revenue from taxing these behaviors because people can’t or won’t stop them just because they are taxed. In essence, the government bets on it.

That’s the same thing these prefects and satraps are doing. They are betting on Daniel’s discipline of prayer to continue even though they changed the rules.

You see…Daniel:

  • Chose prayer rather than Popularity.
    • He would have stayed in good graces with the king and with the public had he just simply refrained from praying.
  • He chose prayer rather than Power.
    • Remember, he was up for a promotion… if he had just cooled it, he would have been given more power, more compensation.
  • He chose prayer rather than Protection.
    • This was the most obvious and impending choice he made.
    • For Daniel, it was, do you want to pray, or do you want to live?
    • Praying to God and spending time with God was more valuable than security for him.
  • Prayer was Daniel’s top priority!
  • His time with God was more precious to him than anything in life….

So before we go any further, let me ask, “How precious is prayer to you?  What would you take in its place?”

The fourth thing to note about Daniel and his journey with prayer is…

  • The influence of his prayer life.

Where we see the influence the most in the narrative in ch. 6 is in Daruis’ life.

Look at verse 16 with me.

Daniel 6:16

Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

What does the king know about Daniel?

He knows that he continually serves God.

And he is now hoping, if not praying, that Daniel’s God would deliver him!

Look now with me and see how the King wrestles through the night. He is not at peace, when Daniel is at peace.

Daniel 6:17-20

“And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his Lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him. Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”

The king had to put Daniel in the den of the lions. He had to seal it. But he also went to his palace and he fasted…and he tossed and turned. He had no peace.

And then as the sun came up, he went quickly to the lion’s den. Notice what it says here…

            He cried out in a tone of anguish…He is hoping against all hope that Daniel wasn’t devoured by the lions.

And look at what Darius says of him.

Daniel 6:20

As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”

King Darius calls Daniel a servant of the living God…and one whom serves his God continually.

What do you see or hear at this point?

I see and hear consistency…I hear congruency…I don’t hear hypocrisy.

You are a servant of the living God and you serve him continually.  This is a congruency.

And for this congruency to develop in our lives so that it is noticed by others, we too must see ourselves as servants of God and we must strive to serve him continuously.

This gets cultivated by our commitment to the discipline of time with God in prayer and in the study of the Scriptures.

  • Daniel steered the king’s heart toward God because he was faithful to pray, and faithfulness was cultivated in him because he prayed.
  • Against all human odds, prevailing prayer to an all powerful God changes things.

We too have a lifetime to build a practice of daily prayer and personal worship.

And we have the potential to influence many because of the time we spend on our knees.