Summary: The habit of private prayer will help us have a Godly life in an Ungodly world. In prayer, we 1) Kneel under God to withstand the ungods; 2) Kneel in private to stand in public; 3) Kneel heavenward to walk earthbound. The intent of this message is to enco

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vacMidway - Aug. 28, 2005

1) {Tell the story}

1a) {Open illustration – start with a clip of our Summer Sport Tournament }

You remember this basketball game. One minute left, we lead by 8 points, then lost the game because the other side start pulling technical fouls and we couldn’t score enough free-throws.

In sport, there is this concept of “kinetic memory”: the ability for your muscles to do the right thing automatically. The point of practice is to create this “kinetic memory” enough so that in the heat of the competition, you don’t have to remember how to stance, how to aim, or how to hit correctly.

1b) {Bridge to text}

We are in the last message of the series “Godly Life in the Ungodly World” on the life of Daniel.

Today we are going to examine one of the basic spiritual disciplines that Daniel employed to create a “kinetic memory” for him to do the right thing in the midst of pressures he received in the ungodly world he lives in.

It’s the practice of private prayer.

1c) Let’s turn to Daniel 6:10-13 {Read Scripture}

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed [1] , giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying [2] and asking-God-for-help [3] . 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays [2] to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions’ den?” The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays [2] three times a day.”

1d) {Prayer}

1e) {Retell the ancient story}

i) What was the decree about? Competition for relying on God vs. relying on the World and its men

ii) Why was it there? Jealousy.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” [2 Tim. 3:12]

iii) What were Daniel options?

(1) Obey = making petition to Darius instead of God = trust in the World is idolatry.

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods” [Ps. 40:4]

(2) Defer = sin against God

Prayerlessness is a sin. It is Samuel who said to the Israelites, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way” [I Samuel 12:23]. Apparently Samuel believed it is a sin to not pray for people. [i] And if so, it may be that most of us would be wise to see that it’s a sin not to pray to God. Why? Because by not praying, we are saying to God “I don’t need you”.

Prayerlessness will also leave the door open for all other sins. This is made clear by the command of Jesus in Mark 14:38. He said to his disciple “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” [ii] .

(3) Close Windows = fear the World

But what about the option of closing the windows to pray so prying eyes won’t see what you do? It seems to be a perfect solution because you could obey the law of the land, yet also fulfill your duty toward God.

The problem is that Daniel had always been praying with his windows opened. If Daniel starts to close the windows now, hiding his faith, it means that he is afraid of the King in this matter. [iii]

(4) Disobey the law to obey God

And so Daniel had only one option left: to disobey the law to obey God.

Jesus agreed with this option. He taught us, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Matt.10:28]

1f) {Thesis & Tracking Points}

The habit of private prayer will help us have a Godly life in an Ungodly world. “It was this prayer-fellowship with Yahweh that had safeguarded Daniel from the corrupting influences of Babylonian culture.” [iv]

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