Daniel 6:10; Habit of Prayer ~ 20220206 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
02/06_Daniel 06:10; The Holy Habit of Prayer; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220206_dan06_10.mp3
The time to develop a habit of prayer is not when prayer has been outlawed. All the high officials, jealous of Daniel, conspired against him, manipulated the king to pass an edict that would entrap Daniel because they knew him to be a man of integrity who was committed to pray to his God.
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.
We saw last time that Daniel’s fear of the Lord freed him from the fear of man.
Daily Rhythms of Gospel Thankfulness
Daniel was also freed by his pattern of prayer to continue to do what he valued most. He continued to do what he had done previously, in the same way he had always done it.
Holy habits are good. We are creatures of habit, and we need to develop godly rhythms to keep our priorities where we want them to be, or we will drift. If we don’t establish righteous routines, we will end up not doing what we most want to do. Daniel prayed ‘as he had done previously’. Habits take time to develop, and persecution is not the most convenient time to decide to develop a new habit. These routines were already firmly established in his life.
We are not told what Daniel prayed on this occasion, other than that he ‘gave thanks before his God’. And keep in mind, he is fully aware of the edict and the conspiracy and the consequence for disobedience. He is facing death in the lion’s den, and he isn’t desperately pleading for God’s intervention or judgment on his enemies; his prayer is characterized by thanksgiving. There is always something to be thankful for. This comes from the discipline of reminding oneself regularly of who God is, how good he is, preaching the gospel to yourself daily, and maintaining a rhythm of gospel thankfulness.
Where, When and How
We don’t know exactly what Daniel said in his prayers, But we are told where, when and how Daniel prayed, and this is instructive for us. ‘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’.
Direction of Prayer; Toward Jerusalem
Daniel prayed with his windows open toward Jerusalem. Remember, Daniel lived through the Babylonian captivity of Judah. Some 420 years earlier, at the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed:
1 Kings 8:46 “If they sin against you— for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near, 47 yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ 48 if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, 49 then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause 50 and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you, and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them
420 years later, from captivity in Babylon, the temple in ruins, Daniel recalled these promises and regularly prayed toward Jerusalem.
No Longer About a Place; Anytime Anywhere Prayer
We no longer need to pray in a specific direction. In Jesus’ conversation with the woman of Samaria,
John 4:19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
For centuries, it had been about a place. When the Israelites entered the land, God commanded them to tear down and desecrate every high place of false worship. Deuteronomy 12 says:
Deuteronomy 12:4 You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way. 5
But you shall seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go,
The Samaritan temple was an abomination, because God had chosen Jerusalem as the place where he made his name to dwell. Jesus goes on to tell the Samaritan woman:
John 4:22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Because God is spirit, because God is not confined to a geographic location, because God is everywhere present, God hears our prayers offered anywhere, in any direction. David said in Psalm 139:
Psalm 139:7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! ...10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
It is no longer about a place. We can pray anytime, anywhere. In fact, we are commanded to pray without ceasing’ (1Thess.5:17)
A Place For Prayer
But Daniel had a specific place for prayer. ‘he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem.’ This does not mean that he would not pray anywhere else. Throughout the day whenever the need arose to seek direction from the Lord, doubtless, Daniel prayed, right then and right there, as we read of Nehemiah when he was in the king’s presence:
Nehemiah 2:4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, ...
Daniel doubtless prayed throughout his day, wherever and whenever, but he had also set aside a specific place and time for prayer. It is important to know that God hears our cry wherever we are. But it is also helpful to us, because we are creatures of habit, to create a routine with a specific place for prayer.
The fact that he prayed in his house, in his upper chamber indicated that he was not trying to make a spectacle of himself or seeking the attention of others when he prayed. But neither was he trying to hide. His windows remained open toward Jerusalem. His enemies knew of his habit of prayer, or they never would have used prayer as the grounds of their conspiracy against him.
One author writes:
‘He cannot hide the fact that he prays. When prayer is fashionable, it is time to pray in secret (Matt 6:5-6), but when prayer is under pressure, to pray in secret is to give the appearance of fearing the king more than God: one must “render to Caesar…” (Matt 22:21; cf. Acts 4:18-20; 5:29) (Hippolytus).’ [Goldingay, p.131]’
Posture For Prayer
Daniel not only had a specific place for prayer, but he had a routine posture for prayer. He got down on his knees. Psalm 138:2 says:
Psalm 138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
It was customary to bow to a king to acknowledge their superiority. In Esther, Haman was enraged because Mordecai the Jew refused to bow down or pay homage to him (Es.3:2,5). Bowing in prayer is a physical way to demonstrate an attitude of submission to the Lord.
C.S. Lewis, in his little classic ‘The Screwtape Letters’, a collection of fictional letters from a more experienced devil instructing his nephew in the art of temptation, says this on the subject of prayer.
“The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently re-converted to the Enemy's party, like your man, this is best done by encouraging him to remember, or to think he remembers, the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood. In reaction against that, he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised; and what this will actually mean to a beginner will be an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part. One of their poets, Coleridge, has recorded that he did not pray "with moving lips and bended knees" but merely "composed his spirit to love" and indulged "a sense of supplication". That is exactly the sort of prayer we want; and since it bears a superficial resemblance to the prayer of silence as practised by those who are very far advanced in the Enemy's service, clever and lazy patients can be taken in by it for quite a long time. At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls.” [C.S.Lewis, Screwtape Letters, IV, p.11-12]
While it is true that we no longer need to pray in a specific direction, and while God can hear and answer our prayers just as well if they are prayed while driving our cars with our eyes wide open or in our closet on our knees with our eyes closed, there is something helpful to us to create habits and routines; and as Screwtape observed ‘whatever their bodies do affects their souls.’
The Bible doesn’t proscribe but often describes posture in prayer.
Psalm 143:6 I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. — Selah
Hands lifted or stretched out is a common posture for prayer, whether bowing or standing. Probably the more common posture in the Bible is standing. Jesus describes the Pharisee and tax collector;
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men... or even like this tax collector. ...13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
Standing in the presence of the King indicates an on your feet readiness to do whatever he commands. Kneeling or prostrating oneself is an expression of unworthiness and humility, seeking mercy in the presence of greatness.
I remember when I was probably 6 or 7 years old and we would visit my grandparents. They were in their mid 80’s at the time, and after the evening meal, we would read the Bible around the dinner table, and then we would all get down and kneel next to our chairs to pray. And my grandpa could pray! He could pray for what seemed like hours! I got to know the intricate weave of the wicker seats of those chairs very well, both from staring at them for what seemed like hours, and from seeing that pattern impressed in my brother’s face when he woke up after the time of prayer finally ended. But the act of getting on our knees indicated even to a young boy the seriousness, the gravity of what we were doing. My grandparents were entering into the very presence of the Holy One, and it was appropriate for us to get on our knees in his presence.
Pray Out Loud;The Importance of Words
We aren’t told if Daniel prayed out loud, but that was the normal custom, and it would be difficult to prove that he was praying or to whom he was praying if his enemies had not heard what he said. Again, I am not saying we have to pray out loud; God can hear the cry of our hearts just as clearly as the cry of our lips. It is likely that Nehemiah’s prayer in the presence of the king was quick and quiet.
But there is something helpful to us to pray out loud, if for no other reason but to help our minds focus on what we are doing and to keep them from wandering. Anyone else set out to pray, and quickly find your mind running off in a million directions? Try articulating the words you are praying out loud; or quietly mouthing the words if you’re not in a place you can pray out loud; see if that helps. Writing out your prayer would provide the same benefit.
Make Time For Prayer
Daniel had a specific place and posture for prayer, he likely prayed out loud, and he had established routine times for prayer. This doesn’t mean that he did not also converse with God spontaneously throughout the day, but it does tell us that he had disciplined himself to set aside specific times for prayer, likely morning, noon and night.
It seems that these times of prayer were connected to the regular routines of the temple offerings. Daniel tells us in chapter 9 that he was speaking in prayer (notice it was verbal) at the time of the evening sacrifice (and temple sacrifices had ceased around 50 years earlier). In Luke 1, it was at the time of the offering of incense (which was done every morning and evening; Ex.30:7-8) that ‘the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense’ (Lk.1:10). Psalm 55 is the only other place I’m aware of that talks about praying three times a day:
Psalm 55:16 But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. 17 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
Budgeting is a tool to plan what you want to do with your money, so you don’t end up wondering where it all went. How many of us find that there’s still a lot of month left at the end of our money? Following a budget helps prioritize and plan what you want your money to do for you. Time is a lot like money, there’s only so much of it to go around, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. If you don’t budget your time and set aside time for the things that are most important to you, you will end up wondering where all your time went and why you never got around to doing some of the things you said were so important to you.
Establish daily rhythms of gospel thankfulness, discipline yourself to prioritize prayer. We don’t have to choose between structure and spontaneity; it is best to do both. Pick a place. Utilize posture and verbal prayer to keep your attention where you intend for it to be. Budget regular time for your prayers.
Give yourself grace. We are not under law but under grace. But that shouldn’t cause us to pray less, but more. We have so much more clarity on the gospel, so much more to be thankful for. Fix your eyes on Jesus, and you will want to enjoy time in his presence.
2022.02.06 Sermon Notes
Daniel 6:10 – The Holy Habit of Prayer
Create holy habits of prayer; daily rhythms of gospel thankfulness
Direction in prayer; toward Jerusalem
1 Kings 8:46-50; Deuteronomy 12:4-5
-No longer about a place; pray anytime anywhere
John 4:19-24; Psalm 139:7-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Establish a specific Place for prayer
Nehemiah 2:4; Matthew 6:6; Luke 22:39
Practice different Postures of prayer
-bow down; prostrate
Psalm 138:2; Esther 3:2, 5
Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11-13
Psalm 141:2; 143:6; Lamentations 3:41; 1 Timothy 2:8
The importance of words; Pray out loud
Psalm 3:4; 27:7; 77:1; 142:1
Prioritize Prayer; budget specific times to pray
Exodus 30:7-8; Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:9-10; Psalm 55:16-17
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org