Summary: Prayer is necessary to grow toward Christian maturity.
Title: The Tipping Point
Text: Daniel 6:10
Truth: Prayer is necessary to grow toward Christian maturity.
Aim: To be encouraged to develop five habits of prayer.
Life: What habits of prayer will assist me in growing in Christian maturity?
Are you familiar with the brush-suede shoe called Hush Puppies? It was popular when I was a kid. The brand was all but dead until late 1994. Sales were down to 30,000 pairs a year, mostly sold in backwoods outlets and small-town family stores. Wolverine, the company that makes Hush Puppies, was thinking of phasing out the shoes that made them famous. But then something strange happened.
Two Hush Puppies executives, at a fashion shoot, ran into a stylist from New York who told them the classic Hush Puppies had suddenly become stylish in the hip clubs and bars of downtown Manhattan. They were selling out in resale shops. People were going to the Ma and Pa stores and buying them up.
In the fall of 1995 things began to happen in a hurry. One fashion designer used the shoe in his spring collection. Another designer used the shoes in her show. A third designer in Los Angeles put a twenty-five-foot inflatable basset hound on the roof of his Hollywood store, gutted a gallery next door, and turned it into a Hush Puppies boutique.
In 1995, the company sold 430,000 pairs of the classic Hush Puppies; the next year they sold four times that, and the year after that still more, until Hush Puppies were once again the main shoe of the young American male. How do you explain this kind of explosive growth? It has been called “the tipping point.”
The tipping point is when an idea or social behavior crosses a threshold, and begins to spread like wildfire. It is when a small, but targeted, effort can cause an explosion, or decline, in an idea or behavior. Spiritually, prayer is that small, but targeted, effort that can cause an explosion in spiritual growth, or a dramatic decline in sinful behavior.
I cannot overestimate the importance of prayer in spiritual growth. Prayer is the difference between Christianity being a form or a force in your life or your church and your community. As you read your Bible, you will notice that every great servant of God was a person of prayer.
It makes sense that prayer would be this significant in the Christian life. The Christian life is a life of dependence on God. Spiritual growth is a work of God. Spiritual growth is not “Operation Bootstrap.” Spiritual growth is not a matter of believing Jesus and doing the best we can. At this church, we give new members a Bible study called “Survival Kit,” not a “do-it-yourself” kit. To become like Christ, which is the main goal of every Christian, requires constant fellowship and dependence upon God. Prayer is your connection with God, and an expression of your dependence on God.
Someone has said, “God had only one Son who lived without sin, but He has had no sons who have lived without prayer.” Jesus was constantly in prayer. He prayed before He ate, before great decisions, and in the Garden of Gethsemane before He went to the cross. Sometimes He prayed all night. Jesus lived the most beautiful life that was ever lived by a human being, and He did this by saturating His life with prayer.
One explanation for the anemic, ineffectiveness of the church in America is the modern disciple is trying to live without prayer. Pastors are strolling into their pulpits without having been before God with their message. Sunday school teachers are showing up in class with a quarterly in one hand and a quarter in the other, but those hands have not been folded in prayer over that lesson or those class members. Choirs sing artistically and timely, but have not spent time in prayer. We are relying too heavily upon human ability to the neglect of divine empowerment. We should not be surprised that members show no real change of heart toward Christ-likeness. To become like Jesus, we must have a strong prayer life. Prayer and Bible study provide the tipping point to reaching Christian maturity.
Daniel had a strong prayer life. The Babylonians conquered his nation of Judah, and he was forced to go to Babylon as a captive. Because of his intelligence and outstanding character, he was trained to serve in the king’s court. God blessed his good and humble life, and he rose to a place of prominence and favor. Smaller men became jealous of him and plotted his downfall. After a thorough investigation that could find nothing in the life of this government official to discredit him except his religion, the investigators persuaded the king to put to death anyone who prayed to any god except the king. Daniel heard about this, but he had prayed to Jehovah all his life. He would not change that now. The Bible says in Daniel 6:10, “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, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”