Last Wednesday, as we began to delve into David’s sin with Bathsheba, I said that I was not excited about doing so. Some sins are just so odious and reprehensible that to study them, even for the most righteous of reasons, becomes distasteful. I find that to study David’s murder of Uriah easier than to look at his sin with Bathsheba. But I was quick to point out Wednesday, that my hesitation was not due to my own guilt in that kind of sin. If I was covering up some personal sin of adultery, both the sin and the cover-up would disqualify me from the ministry, and they should make my preaching about the sins of others shameful on my part.

Well, once again, I have to admit that I’m a bit reticent and hesitant to preach the message before me tonight. And this time the reason is exactly the opposite to what I’ve just described. As I look at the prayer life of Daniel, I am put to shame for my failure to even approach this great man. This time, there are sins in my life, but they are sins of omission rather than commission. It isn’t that I don’t pray, however my prayer habits don’t approach those of our great example here. But here is one of the great differences between sins of omission and those of commission. Once the murder has been committed, there is nothing that can be done to bring the dead to life again. That sin is on the permanent record of the murderer. Kindness to the victim’s family can never replace the loss that the murderer has created. But the sins of omission although often shameful, those are sins that can sometimes be corrected. The past record may be permanent, but tomorrow and the next day will give us the opportunity to do what is right and to be what is right. This encourages me to preach on this subject, And so does the knowledge that you are probably not any more dedicated and efficient in your prayer lives than I am. Perhaps together we should dare to be a little more like Daniel.

We might add a couple thoughts which come to us from other parts of this book, but there are several things from this chapter which speak to us about Daniel’s prayer life. I have little more than a bundle of random observations and applications for you tonight. “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.”

On the day that he was arrested for prayer, Daniel was not in rebellion; he was in prayer.
Somehow he had learned about the law which the other presidents and princes had encouraged the king to sign. It might have taken a couple of days to work its way through the simplified Persian legal system. And then, of course, it had to be declared and taught to the citizens of Babylon. It was probably on the front page of the newspapers, and was the leading item on the evening news. And then it probably wasn’t going to go into effect until the new moon – the beginning of the next month. And I would guess that some of Daniel’s rivals made sure – doubly sure – that Daniel was aware of the law. They didn’t want him to be guilty through ignorance of the law. They wanted to catch him in the act of utter rebellion. But then on the other hand, perhaps others suggested that it didn’t matter whether Daniel knew about the law or not, if he broke it’s single precept they would have him arrested and executed. Whatever the circumstances, at some time during the first day of the law’s enforcement, Daniel went home to pray “as he did aforetime.”

Daniel was in the habit of prayer. In some ways the word “habit” can be taken negatively, but I don’t mean it in that way. At my house we are in the “habit” of praying before our meals. Sometimes we are hungry; sometimes we have interrupted things that we are doing. Sometimes the baby isn’t willing to settle down. Sometimes our prayer is just a repetition of what has been prayed a thousand times before. This kind of “habit” is not to be very highly commended, although it probably shouldn’t be thoroughly condemned. When I say that Daniel was in the “habit” of prayer, I mean it differently and in the very best of ways.

Three times a day Daniel bowed his knees before the Lord in prayer. I can’t picture him opening a prayer book and reading the words which were supposed to be prayed on that particular time on that particular day. And I can’t picture him singing or chanting some prayerful song that he had memorized in his youth, like some Muslim or Catholic. I believe that these were genuine prayers flowing out of a profoundly simple heart.

Some of commentators suggest that the three times a day were at 9:00 a.m., noon and 3:00 p.m. Perhaps they are right. Others talk about the former time of the morning sacrifice, noon and then at the time of evening sacrifice. Perhaps they are right. Then again, perhaps Daniel had the internal fortitude to go to the office in the morning, and then three times during the day, at no particular time, whenever the work-load slowed, he would quickly rush home for prayer. I’m not sure that the word “habit” demands an eye on the clock or a call from the minaret. It might have simply been that Daniel prayed when he got up from bed in the morning, sometime later in the midst of his day, and then again before bed. Having said this, the fact that Daniel prayed three times a day certainly doesn’t prevent you from developing a habit of praying four times a day, or five times a day. He had his habit and you may have yours.

And just in passing – How many meals do you eat? Do you have breakfast before you being your day, then have a mid-day meal and then a supper or dinner? Are these meals “habit?” In some ways they are and in other ways not so. If you had asked Daniel, I almost guarantee that he would say that his three periods of daily prayer were more important than his three daily meals. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised that he didn’t have three meals – just two. But of course, of these things we won’t know anything until we get to sit down with him in Heaven and talk about these things. Should our meals be more important, or more in number, than our periods of prayer every day?

We see that Daniel was at home for this time of prayer.
I am not prepared to positively declare that he didn’t pray in his office at work. All that the scripture says is that on this occasion he went home to pray. When he was arrested he was at home on his knees. It could have been that ordinarily at noon, during his lunch break he would open his office window and pray, but because of the new law, he chose to go home, but I’m not prepared to say that this was the case.

Let’s just take what we have here at face value – why at home? I think that we can say with positivity that it was not out of cowardice. The man was eminently courageous and had been from the first few days in Babylon. He was willing to risk his life over rejecting the king’s food. He was not afraid of facing the king to explain that man’s dream. And when he was summoned to Belshazzar’s feast, he boldly went where no man dared to go – “You’re going to die tonight Belshazzar.” This man was no coward. Notice that he was perfectly calm. He might have justified himself, in praying silently and inwardly for the 30 days of that stupid law – but he didn’t. He could have gone home and shut his window – but he didn’t. Daniel displayed courage before the wicked, and he displayed courage before the Lord even in his prayers, as we will see in chapters to follow. Prayer is not the last resort of a man who has run out of options, and now he is cowering in terror. Prayer was the first thing in Daniel’s life.

But, again, why at home? There are several things here which come together to teach one particular point. I think that Daniel went to his house primarily for privacy and to enable him to concentrate. Don’t you find praying at the restaurant difficult? That is usually a short and basically repetitious prayer primarily because of the circumstances. Daniel went home so that he couldn’t hear the ringing telephones, the chatting secretaries, the men talking about the baseballs scores or having the king walk in to give him some new idea that he had. His home was his prayer closet, something of which the Lord Jesus spoke. It was just an opportunity to get apart with the Lord, as Christ did from time to time when he left His disciples and wandered into the wilderness. Also in going home to pray, we are reminded that all of this was something familiar. Everything about this “habit” of prayer is warm and comfortable.

In my background reading, someone mentioned that Daniel consciously came into the presence of the Lord. In fact, he might have had a special room or a special area in his house, where the only thing that he did was devotional. And there he threw open his westward facing window. Call it superstitious if you like; call it silly. But Daniel felt that by opening his window in the direction of where the temple once stood, he was drawing nigh unto the Lord.

In I Kings 8 Solomon was in the act of dedicating the temple unto to the Lord. He prayed – “Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive. When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house: Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers. When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants.”

Solomon was in a prophetic spirit that day as he prayed; listen to verses 46-50 “If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them.”

In praying toward Jerusalem, Daniel was doing no more than he had been taught to do. In opening that window he was bringing his heart into the presence of the Lord. And we notice that even Solomon said that God was in heaven, not in the temple.

And, of course, we see that Daniel was kneeling. There is nothing magical about kneeling, over laying prostrate or standing with hands toward heaven. And yet, if you stop and think about it, kneeling is an act of contrition and surrender. This is the posture of the boy friend who is begging that little girl to marry him. This is the posture of the criminal who is begging for his life from the king. Doesn’t kneeling emphasize the unworthiness of the petitioner? Doesn’t kneeling with folded hands and closed eyes, help us to forsake the world and to concentrate on the One to whom we are praying? It is an excellent attitude to take during our few moments of prayer.

We aren’t told very much about the substance of Daniel’s prayer.
But what we are told, tells us much. “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.” As do all of us, Daniel had much for which to be thankful. I confess that one of the few TV shows that I watch during the week is the Thursday-night mystery on PBS. Last week Sherlock Holmes was talking to a woman, whose sister had been kidnapped and robbed – she didn’t know if her sister was dead or alive. And this woman’s face had been torn apart to make it appear that she had been attacked by a leopard. She lived in shadows out of fear and shame, constantly wearing a veil. And she lived in an almost overcoming hatred toward he man she suspected of killing her sister. But Holmes told the woman that he envied her. Daniel had lost much through the years – his freedom, his family, the opportunity for a wife and children. But still when he went to prayer, he had much for which to be thankful. Just as we all do.

I’m sure that he prayed in faith and with hope. He had seen God fulfill His promise about the fall of Babylon. He knew that the Lord had promised that Judah would return to her land and rebuild her capital city. Although Daniel was getting rather elderly, he probably still maintained the hope that he might go home. I’m sure that he prayed for strength, and he thanked the Lord for strength to pray. It wasn’t any easier to live godly for Christ Jesus in Daniel’s day than it is in our day. It required the strength of the Lord, and for this strength Daniel prayed on a daily basis.

Also, I’m sure that Daniel prayed for wisdom. As we will see in the months ahead, he prayed with his Bible in his hands. He looked at the promise of God, and when he couldn’t understand the details, he besought the Lord for guidance. That is a display of wisdom.

Over the next few months Daniel will teach us much about prayer.
I don’t see him complaining to the Lord about things. Such is not the Christian’s job. We need to let the Lord be God.

And even though the kings under whose reigns he served, were not godly men, I doubt he prayed against them. Rather I suspect that the prayed for them – for the salvation, for their wisdom, for more mercy. He probably prayed for Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. He prayed for the coming of the Messiah.

These are things about which we should pray. We need to look at the prayer lives of the Biblical saints, like Daniel, and emulate what we find. Certainly, none of us are as diligent in this area as we ought to be.