DANIEL 6:10 (part three)
Fraternal Twins: Petitions and Praise
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Daniel 6:10 (Holman) “When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

Three phrases near the end of our text can help us. First, Daniel “prayed and gave thanks.” Anemic devotion always asks, and never returns gratitude.

It should be as natural for us to thank God as to make requests. In our prayers, petitions and praise should enter heaven arm in arm as fraternal twins.

We do not thank God often enough. We should thank Him more for past kindnesses, future blessings, present goodness. Even while making our requests, let’s learn to thank Him for the assurance He will answer our petitions aright.

“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18). If we obey this verse, we perform high and holy worship.

Anyone can thank God when life is going well. Our purest worship is offered when life is difficult, yet we thank God anyway. To thank God amidst adversity proves our claimed conviction that God is good and in control.

For Daniel, the condemning decree had been signed. Public prayer meant death. He openly thanked God anyway. May we all learn to do the same.

Second, Daniel prayed and gave thanks “to his God.” In pagan Babylon, a Hebrew slave enjoyed communion with the Ruler of the Universe. Believers through the ages have entered the throne room of Heaven from all kinds of places.

Saints have turned dungeons into churches, catacombs into cathedrals, caves into prayer closets. Now the opposite too often happens. Churches can be as cold as dungeons, cathedrals as dead as catacombs, prayer closets as empty as caves.

The tragedy of cold, dead, empty worship happens when we let our intimacy with God be replaced with ritualism and going through motions of religiosity. When seeking to worship God, we are prone to stray from coming to Him in spirit and in truth. Our minds often go to forms and outward trappings of religion.

“To his God” is the soul of prayer. It is a coming to God, a vital, individual, one on one relationship with Him. Daniel spoke not to an impersonal force, but to his dearly loved God, with Whom he had enjoyed intimate communion 90 years.

Conscious personal intimacy between a believer and God has always been vital to our faith. Christianity is spiritual and mystical before it is practical. Instructions on how to live the Christian life can help us little unless we are first of all consciously aware of direct, personalized help from God.

Martin Luther said the essence of being a Christian was our privilege to use possessive pronouns about God. David said, “The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23). Thomas confessed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

The best part of Daniel’s faith was not his belief in the existence of God, but his constant intimacy with God. It would be a poor marriage if a husband felt his most important duty was to believe his wife exists. Christianity is not merely believing God is, but believing in God, enjoying a personal relationship with Him.

We Baptists wrongly tend to think of a “personal relationship with God” as a past tense, once-for-all-time event. It is correct to say our relationship with God began in the past, but it must continue to be nurtured through all of life. No one had to trace back church records for decades to find out whether or not Daniel had made a profession of faith. It was his current reality.

Enhance intimacy with God. Romance Him. We too often pray unaware of God’s Presence, as if we are not mindful of entering the throne room of Heaven.

In prayer, occasionally take the emphasis off words and place it on intimacy. A silent conscious awareness of the majesty of God Present is significant worship, though we speak not a word. Quiet adoration can be as prayerful as words.

Third, Daniel prayed and gave thanks to God, “just as he had done before.” His routine remained the same. Daniel stopped nothing. Never think spiritual disciplines of worshiping God are trifles. A person determined to walk close to God must see every discipline, however small, as an essential part of devotion.

Be jealous over every aid to spirituality: church attendance, daily prayer time, reading in the Bible daily, all the Bible annually, devotional literature, Christian music, small groups. These may in and of themselves appear to be mere straws, but they show which way God’s wind is blowing in our life.

Daniel continued to have his windows open toward Jerusalem, to kneel, to pray, to give thanks. He would not waver in the basics. Successful believers never do. The faithful serve even in trifles, because with God there are no trifles.

If we succeed in little things, we will be numbered among those who succeed in all things, who cannot be written down, voted down, or beaten down. To oppose such a person’s stand for God is futility and folly, as silly as the Prussian King who once commanded a room full of clocks to all tick together, and the king who placed his throne on a beach and ordered the waves to stop.

It’s equally as foolish to try to stop a servant devoted to God in the secret place. As the sun rises and sets whether people notice or not; as a tide comes in whether we see it or not; even so God’s follower who serves Him in private serves Him in public whether others approve or disapprove. We must succeed behind the scenes if we are to honor God on the stage of life, as we are called to do.

John Bunyan, threatened with life in prison for preaching, replied, “If I lie in prison till moss grows on my eyelids, I can say nothing more than this, that with God’s help, I will preach whenever I get a chance.” The jailer would leave the cell door unlocked each morning and tell Bunyan he was free to go if he would not preach. “If I leave,” Bunyan replied, “I will preach before I reach yon hill.”

Bernard Palissy, a poor Protestant potter in France, was thrown in the Bastille for his beliefs. Charles IX came to the prison, threatening, “Palissy, I am forced to have you executed unless you recant.” In triumph Palissy answered, “Forced! They that force you, King Charles, cannot force me. You and all your nation cannot compel me, a simple potter, to bend my knee to an idol, or a lie.”

We can act this decisively for God, with uncompromising boldness at every turn, only if we have done our duty in the private place at all times under all circumstances. Teens, be true to Jesus in secret from the first of life. It’s easier to stay straight all through life than to straighten life after years of crookedness.

Determine to make lifelong progress in holiness. Show no compromise. Hold all ground gained. If we yield an inch to evil today we will be challenged to yield a yard tomorrow. One of our most dangerous temptations as believers is surrendering a little to the adversary and the world, thinking they won’t ask for more. Our yielding, rather than satisfy them, encourages them to press for more.

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was responsible for the Munich Agreement, which forced Czechoslovakia to give up Sudetenland to Hitler. Chamberlain proclaimed he had won “peace for our time” because Hitler promised it would be “the last territorial claim I have to make in Europe.” But soon Hitler took all of Czechoslovakia, then Poland, then Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland, France, Romania. He tried to take Britain, Russia, and the world. Chamberlain resigned in disgrace. Appeasement failed.

The devil uses the same ploy against us. He usually asks for little, only an inch at a time, but each inch draws us closer to a huge fall.

It is dangerous to neglect our duty to make progress. Always go forward in our spiritual walk. Never shrink back. “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32).

“We should live up to whatever truth we have attained” (Philippians 3:16 Holman). Williams translates it this way, “We must continue to live up to that degree of success we have already reached.” No appeasement allowed!

From his youth on, Daniel never retreated. He had learned that standing for God is not only the right thing. In the long run, it is also the easiest thing.

We are free to choose one of two pains in life: pain of discipline or pain of regret. The pain of discipline weighs ounces. The pain of regret weighs tons.

Are we closer to God than ever before? If not, something is wrong in our life. Always forward! Always higher duty! Always more for Jesus’ sake.

1