Daniel in the Den of Lions

Bible Book: Daniel  6
Subject: Prayer; Faith; Faithful
Series: Living Right When Life Seems Wrong

Daniel in the Den of Lions

J. Mike Minnix
Sermon 7 in a series of 9 Sermons entitled: Living Right When Life Seems Wrong

Daniel 6

We come today to sermon 7 in a series of 9 sermons were from the Book of Daniel. We are considering the issue of living right when life seems wrong. Many believers come to a point of questioning God's presence when the issues of life appear to be dark and unexplainable. They ask, "Where is God when I need Him most? Has He forgotten me?" In the Book of Daniel we discover courage and faith when everything nailed down seems to be coming loose.

The story of Daniel in the den of lions reveals a godly man keeping the faith when circumstances don't necessarily seem to merit such confidence that in the Lord. Daniel shows us how to live right when life seems wrong.

The word "den" means something different to us today than it did in Bible days. One little girl was telling her friend about her dad getting angry while watching television in the den. Then she asked her friend, "Does your dad ever yell in the den?" The other girl said, "No, my dad just yells all over the house!"

To make sure we are clear on this, a den in Bible days was a place where lions were kept. It wasn't a place where dad or mom sat to watch the Detroit Lions play football on television. A lion's den was often a place dug out below ground - a place deep enough that lions could not leap out. Some lions were kept in caves with doors over the entrance to hold them in place. Whatever it was like in Daniel's day, he was thrown into a den full of lions. What exactly got him into that situation and the results of the experience contains things very interesting and inspiring, and more relevant to our times than you may think.

Daniel was of royal race and what is far better is that he was of royal character. He is depicted on the pages of scriptural history as one of the greatest and most faultless men for God.

Daniel was a man of marvelous faith and courage, and we find him at his very best, perhaps, when he was on his knees in prayer. He was despised by those among the court of the king and they often conspired against him. In fact, as we come to chapter 6 in the book of Daniel, we discover that some of the leaders filled the king’s mind with doubts about the loyalty of Daniel. The king's men told the king that David was defying a law which forbade prayer to anyone but Darius. Daniel, of course, knew full well that he was not supposed to pray to any god but King Darius, just as the king's decree had ordered. But for Daniel prayer to the true God was as necessary as breath. So, Daniel prayed, all the while believing that God was with and that God would protect him. In this passage, we see the amazing hand of God upon a man that prayed faithfully.

There is the story of a little girl went into her room and threw her shoe under her bed. Her mother observed this and asked, “Honey, why did you throw your shoe under your bed?” The child replied, “Well, if I have to get down on my knees to get my shoe in the morning it will remind me to pray while I’m down there.” Well, whatever it takes, we need a commitment to faithful prayer. Sadly few of us pray as we ought even though there is no decree to keep us from it. Daniel prayed faithfully even when death was possible for anyone who disobeyed the king's decree.

Daniel,was living right in a world that seemed terribly wrong. Let's learn some things about his and discover how to apply them to our lives. First, note ...

I. The Dynamic of Daniel’s Life

Daniel had always been a believer who practiced faithful prayer. Daniel was great when standing before men because he was humble when bowing before God. He knew how to lay hold of the divine strength that makes one strong in the midst of life's trials and dangers.

As we observe Daniel in the passage before us, we need to remember that Daniel was likely over 80 years of age at this time. How wonderful that even in his latter years he was not a negative, complaining believer. As we age it is easy for us to become contrary about people and life in general. After all, those among us who are in our senior years have aches and pains that the young cannot imagine. It takes twice the energy to do half the work once you are old. Yet, we discover that many of the greatest people in the history did not let age slow them down.

We read that Edison was still inventing at age 90. The entrepreneur J.C. Penny was still going to his office when he was 95 years old. Old age does not necessarily spell purposelessness in life. Indeed, Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, did not make his first million dollars till he was over 60 years of age. A news story this week revealed a woman who has been catching lobsters to sell since she was 8 years old, and she is still at work at age 101. That is a true story! May God increase her tribe!

It is possible to do your greatest work in life in your latter years. You can do your greatest deeds for God in what some call the declining years. Daniel was such a man.

What was the secret of Daniel’s continuing power in Babylon, even though he was old and had many enemies against him? It was simple - you can trace his victory to his prayer life. The devil had to know that the only way to stop Daniel was to find a way to end his prayer life. The devil knows that about us as well. That may well be why we pray so little - the devil robs us of this important powerhouse practice in our daily lives. Note, however, that when a decree was given that no one was to pray for thirty days to anyone but Darius, Daniel refused to leave his private prayer time before God. I note three important things about Daniel’s prayer life. 

A. He was Never to Important to Pray

We are told that Daniel went to his house to pray. Daniel was a very busy man and had a lot of public duties that made demands on his time. He was older and that meant his energy was reduced. However, Daniel made no excuses when it came to prayer. No matter how engaged he was in the duties of the various state offices, he kept his time with God as more sacred than any other duty. You want to see a secret to greatest in your spiritual life? Look to this truth – nothing kept Daniel from meeting with God.

Daniel prayed among others, but most importantly, he prayed in a special place he set aside in his private home. He made it a matter of commitment to meet God there daily. In fact, Daniel met with God at least three times every day.

Do we have a place to pray and meet with God daily? We should. We must, if we would be used of God. When we set aside a place and time to meet with God and never let anything become more important in our lives than that prayer time, the place itself becomes special, holy and sacred. Just moving into that area to meet with God gives us the sense that the Lord will meet us there. That is what Daniel felt, knew and practiced.

B. He was Not to Involved to Pray

Most of us are very busy. Our time saving devices have not saved us any time. Actually, these devices have simply made us feel a need to get even more done in a day. I promise you, however, that none of us have duties that are more important or time consuming than Daniel had in his day. He was much in demand. When we are too busy to pray, we are simply too busy – period! Daniel, as busy as he was, always took time to meet with God - morning, noon and night.

Martin Luther said, "I have got so much to do today that I cannot possibly get through it with less than three hours of prayer." Well, perhaps you and I can’t pray three hours a day, but we can set aside time to meet with God in prayer and Bible reading. We can lay before Him the needs of others. We can call upon Him to help us in our struggles. We can adore Him and spend time letting Him know it. Anyone who is in love will spend time with the one he or she loves. When we don’t spend time with God, it is a sign that our love is ebbing and declining.

C. He was Not to Insecure to Pray

Daniel had been in the habit of praying with his window's open towards Jerusalem. Now that the king had put forth a decree that no one was to pray to anyone but himself, Daniel had to make a decision. If Daniel had been an insecure man, he would have simply given up his daily prayer for the thirty days involved in the king's decree. After all, he could have argued that missing thirty days of prayer would not really be such an evil thing to do. Actually, Daniel knew that this was a test of his faith and commitment. So, he continued to pray just as he had in the past. He prayed toward Jerusalem at the open window knowing that his enemies could see him and even though he suspected they would report it to the king.

Daniel could have simply closed the window and continued his daily prayer life. What difference did the open window make to the effectiveness of his prayers anyway? Well, it made a great difference. David had faith in God and that overcame any insecurity he might have felt, and thus he decided not to cower in the corner regarding his prayer life. Closing his window might have sent a signal that he was ashamed of his God, or fearful that his God could not or would not protect him. No! Daniel would pray at the open window as he had always done, regardless of the conquencea.

When we see David before the open window, calling upon God, it ought to challenge us today to make a new commitment to prayer. You see, we complain about the state of affairs in our nation and our community, but do we pray like Daniel? Daniel was living in a pagan and wicked society and he knew that the only hope was for God to intervene. So, he would not abandon his prayer life even if it meant the end of his natural life. Oh, for a commitment to pray like that among people today. After all, God is still our only hope and the only one who can protect our land.

D. He was Not to Impolite to Pray

When I was a child, one thing we were taught to do was to always say,  “Thank you," when someone gave us something or did something nice for us. How many gifts have we received from God? How impolite is it for us to accept the gifts from God daily and then fail to thank Him in prayer! Daniel was blessed of God and he was committed to blessing God.

I am reminded of the little girl who climbed up on Santa's lap to tell him what she wanted for Christmas. When she had completed her list, Santa handed her a candy cane. The mother of the girl looked at her daughter and asked, “Now honey, what do you say” The little girl thought for a moment and exclaimed, “Charge it!” Apparently that is what she often heard her mother say when shopping. Her mother actually wanted to teach her daughter to express gratitude for a gift. The child still had not learned the lesson. Have you and I learned it. The Bible asks us what we have that we have not received. In other words, where did every good and perfect gift come from? Yes, from God alone! Oh, you say that you worked for it. Who do you suppose gave you the hands to work, the mind to work, and the strength to work? Every good gift comes from God. If we prayed daily merely to thank God for His blessings, that alone would be worth it. But what about asking for forgiveness of our sins! What about praying for others in need! What about seeking God's directions for the day! Failing to pray daily is planning to fail daily.

One day a preacher was invited to a home to eat lunch. The family gathered around the table and seated the minister had the head. They passed the food and began to eat. The father realized they had failed to thank God for the food and so he attempted to make things right. He said, "Preacher, I guess you noticed that we didn't say grace before we began to eat." The preacher acknowledged that he had noticed that. Then the father of the family said, "Well, preacher, it's like this. When we do our grocery shopping each week, we bring the bags home, sit them on the cabinet, and we pray over them and thank God for them before we put them up. That way we are getting the prayer for a meal time out of the way." Needless to say, the minister was not impressed. Are we just trying to get prayer out of the way, or is prayer vital to us?

Daniel would not be so impolite as to fail in giving His God and Savior gratitude throughout every day. You note in our text today that he was a man of frequent and steadfast prayer. His prayers were not just for wants and needs, but were filled with praise and thanksgiving.

May God help us to develop Daniel’s prayerful spirit and habit.

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II. The Difficulties in Daniel’s Life

Daniel read the law which the King had been tricked by Daniel's enemies into proclaiming. Daniel knew that the king had been duped into declaring such a law, but Daniel determined not to turn his back upon the Lord.

A. The Danger of Fear

What would happen to us if such a law were passed in our state or nation today? Would we pray? Sadly, too few pray as it is. What do you think would happen if we were threatened with being thrown into a den full of lions if we continued to pray?

Fear is a terrible thing, but it leads to things even worse than fear. Consider Lot’s wife, for example. She feared that leaving Sodom and Gomorrah would lead to great loss for her, so she looked back. In that moment she was turned into a pillar of salt. She was afraid of losing her home, her possessions and maybe her friends. Sadly, her fear caused her to turn back toward the city and her loss was even greater than she could have imagined.

Listen, we must not run from spiritual responsibility. We cannot turn our eyes away from the Lord and expect to honor Him. The other day I was walking through my den and into the kitchen to get a snack. A ballgame was on television and just as I got to a place to turn the corner around the countertop, I heard the yell of the fans. I looked back to see what had happened and ran my side into the edge of the counter-top. Not only did I miss the play on television, and miss the snack I was going for, I ended up bent over with a pain in my side that took my breath away. When we are moving toward God, we must not look back at the sounds and calls from the world. Reaching for God's best means to keep our eyes on Him and faithful prayer insures that we do not run into the wall the world has set as a trap for us.

Trust me when I tell you, we are going to enter a time very soon when simply doing God's will can bring about fines and perhaps even imprisonment. We are very close to that now. You had better be praying regularly now, because you are going to need to be in practice for what Christians in America are about to face. In the 1970s, I shared with my congregation that we would likely face government intervention into our Christian practice and worship in my lifetime. One of my members questioned me the next week. "Do you really think that will happen?" I replied, "I know it in my heart. Look at the law to take prayer out of school. Note the Supreme Court decision to make abortion legal. This is just the beginning." That was a long time ago but we are getting closer everyday to a time when obeying the Lord will require defying the government. It is like that now in many parts of the world. The further we move into the 21st Century the more I believe government will infringe on our faith.

Perhaps this is the time spoken of in the Bible as the great apostasy. You can see that many people are falling away from the church and away from following Jesus. The number of people who truly worship and serve Christ is declining. One reason for that is the fact that the world paints us as rednecks or fools. If you can't take that, you will join those who are in full retreat. Daniel didn't care what was said about him; he was concerned with honoring God. We must do the same.

In the early church, people were put to death for their faith in Christ. At best they were ridiculed, lost their jobs and/or were imprisoned. Many were not even that fortunate. They were thrown to lions, covered with pitch and set on fire or beaten to death. Just how much do you really love Jesus? We may be forced to prove our faith soon. Daniel didn't just believe in God, he behaved for God. That is what we must do now!

Daniel did not fear what the king might do to him. He feared God and the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. We must never be fearful of the cost involved in following God’s will in our lives. He has plans for us that are far beyond anything this world can offer and so wonderful that no price is too high in order for us to stay on the right path!

B. The Danger of Freedom

Perhaps one of our problems today is that there is no decree saying we cannot pray. The downfall of many is the freedom we have. We are so free to pray that we take the privilege for granted.

"Where'er we seek him he is found,

And every place is hallowed ground."

1. What if prayer depended on a Place?

If there was only one place to pray, we would all seek with full diligence to get to that place? But we are free to pray almost everywhere, so we fail to pray anywhere.

2. What if prayer depended on a Price?

What if we had to pay for prayer? We would save and borrow just to get our prayers heard. But prayer is free, at least to us. Jesus paid for it, thus we take it for granted.

3. What if prayer depended on a Person?

If only one person could pray, we would beat a path to his or her door down to get him prayer made for us. Yet, because we all can pray, we fail to pray. The freedom to pray makes us somehow indifferent to the privilege.

I want to read something for you this morning. This comes from the Washington Times and is an article entitled, Suffering for the Faith by Mona Charen:

"Lai Man Peng was a 22 year-old Chinese Christian evangelist. In 1994, at a meeting at one of China's "house churches" (a non-government-sanctioned prayer meeting), he and four other evangelists were seized by agents of the Public Security Bureau, China's KGB.

In front of the congregation, Mr. Lai and the others were beaten severely. The security officers next handed the truncheons to the congregants and ordered them to beat the preachers, on pain of being beaten themselves. Mr. Lai was so badly injured that the security team feared he would die in their presence (leaving too much to explain), so they released him. He crawled and hobbled for several miles, attempted to reach his home, but finally collapsed and died on the road.

Such persecution is commonplace in China, where only a fraction of the estimated 30 million to 70 million Christians belong to government-approved sects. Amnesty International reports cases of Christian women hung by their thumbs from wires and beaten with heavy rods, denied food and water and shocked with electric probes.

Elsewhere in the world, Christians face other tortures and persecutions. In Egypt and Pakistan Christians have been imprisoned and tortured merely for preaching their faith. Pakistan recently passed a blasphemy law that forbids speaking or acting against the prophet Mohammed. The punishment for violators is death. A 12-year-old Christian child was recently sentenced to death under this law and was freed from Pakistan only by international pressure. He is now hiding in a Western country with a bounty on his head similar to that which keeps Salman Rushdie on the run."

This article I read moment ago continued with even more detail, but suffice it to say that we ought to be ashamed when we think about our pitiful prayer lives. We are so free, so blessed, that we take this precious blessing for granted. May God help us to know that we must pray before the Lion’s Den comes if we want to be ready to pray when the Lion’s Den happens. Daniel could pray in the Lion’s Den because he had faithfully praying before the Lion’s Den event occurred.

III. The Dedication in Daniel’s Life

A. His Decision

The decree of the King stated that Daniel must not pray. Daniel did not deliberate for even a minute on this issue. If we have a duty to do something for our Lord, we must not delay - if we delay we will likely deny Him in the end. We are not to consider the cost. We are not to fear the danger. We are to be dedicated to God! Daniel did not ponder what should be done in his situation, but went to his house and prayed in the morning; he went to his house and prayed at noon; and he retired to his house and prayed in the evening. He knelt down upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he had done in the past. (Daniel 6:10)

B. His Demeanor

Daniel did not act in defiance of the king; he simply kept his steadfast commitment to pray three times a day. If a law was passed tomorrow declaring that Christians are not to pray to God, I believe more of us would likely pray than have been praying. We would march in the streets carrying signs. Sadly, however, we don’t pray now even though we are free to do so. Don’t get the wrong idea about Daniel. He was not acting in defiance against the king. He was not leading some public campaign against the king. He was simply being faithful, as he had been in the past.

You see, Daniel’s demeanor did not change in the light of the king’s decree. He was the same as he had been in the past. As Christians, we ought to have a faithful and humble demeanor before God and others. Daniel was not arrogant and neither should we be arrogant in our faith. Just be faithful!

C. His Determination

His faith was steadfast, his actions consistent and his prayer life faithful. He was determined to pray and serve his God as he had in the past. It is interesting that one faithful person can inspire so many others to follow. Just think about it, even today we are calling on Daniel’s example all those years ago to spur us to greater faithfulness in prayer in our modern age. Your determination can help so many others around you to be faithful as well.

IV. The Deliverance in Daniel’s Life

Daniel was placed in a den of lions. No, he was not placed in a lion’s den. You can have a lion’s den with no lions in it. Daniel was placed in a den of lions – the lions were there and they were fierce.

I read once about a man who was sweeping out a lion’s den at a zoo. All the lions had been removed except for one very large male lion. Someone yelled to the man who was sweeping, “Aren’t you afraid to be in there with that big lion?” The sweeper smiled and said, “No, this is an old lion and he doesn’t have any teeth!”

Let me tell you that Daniel was in a den of lions and they all had teeth! Daniel had no assurance that he would escape this situation. He was ready to die for his faith if that was called for. His commitment was to be true and to do his duty for the Lord.

A. The Splendid Night of Daniel

What an incredible night that must have been. Daniel, the lions, and the angels! What a sight it must have been to see Daniel and the lions becoming friends. I bet a lions mane makes a great pillow, if you have God with you for protection.

B. The Sad Night in the Palace

King Darius could not rest that night while Daniel was in such peril. You see, Darius admired Daniel. The king had written the law, however, and he had to keep his word. In his realm, what was written had to stand. He didn’t actually want to throw Daniel into the den of lions, but the law was the law. So, the king tossed and turned all night. He had no peace. He knew that what he had done to Daniel was wrong.

One day I was playing golf while on vacation. I had been paired with some other players, as is often the case when you are playing golf at a resort and you don't have friends with you. One of the men was vulgar and vile. He said some very impolite things when a shot didn't go the way he wanted it go, and that was quite often. I wanted to advise him to take up bowling, but it didn't think that would help his language. I actually didn't say anything to him during the golf round. He had paid his money and he was not in church. But, I prayed all the way for God to give me the chance to witness to him before we left the course. After his last putt, as we walked off the eighteenth green, I said, "Sir, may I ask you a question?" He replied, "Sure." I asked, "If you died today, do you know that you would go to heaven?" He said, "What kind of question is that?" I said, "Well, listening to you today I came to the opinion that you are not a Christian and I just wanted to talk to you about knowing Jesus as your Savior." He turned red in the face and said in anger, "That is none of your business. How dare you talk to me about that!" He stomped away. I didn't see him again.

I thought about that later that evening, and I prayed for that man. God seemed to impress on my heart something I want to tell you. The Lord seemed to whisper to me, "He will not rest well tonight." I felt sincerely that the man I spoke to was going to think of what he did throughout that day and what I said to him, and it was going to rob him of peace and sleep during the night.

Friends, we ought to be faithful to Christ. If we are, even in a den of lions we will have peace. It is the people who placed us there that will toss and turn throughout the night!

In the Daniel's case, the next morning found the king racing to the lion’s den to see what had happened during the night. He found Daniel doing just fine! What a shock and surprise. The king was delighted. He knew that Daniel was a man of God and he knew that God was real!

C. The Sensational Night in Heaven

Can't you just imagine the delight around the throne of God throughout the night that Daniel was in the lion's den. What joy there must have been in heaven because one man had been willing to stand up against an entire kingdom simply because he believed in the Lord and he loved the Lord!

We don't often picture laughter on the throne in heaven, but I can on this occasion. All the enemies of Daniel thought they had won a victory. They are at home rubbing their hands together in delight and they were sure the lions were feasting on Daniel. At last they thought they were rid of Daniel. The king was at home turning in his bed, thinking that he had sentenced his favorite man to death among the lions. Yet, at that very moment God was in heaven, leaning back with a great smile as he looked down on Daniel and saw him resting among the lions.

Do you and I ever make heaven glad? Is our faith, steadfastness and commitment something that rings the bells in heaven? God is looking for some people like Daniel - people who pray and people who back up their prayers with action.

We will never convince this world concerning our faith in the Lord unless we are willing to be true to the Lord ourselves. We begin this process by knowing Him in salvation. We continue that by spending time with our God in prayer. We are then to be faithful by rising up from prayer to live and walk out our faith.


Will you trust God today to be your Savior? Jesus died for you. On the night he died, those who wished for his death were delighted. Perhaps Satan was celebrating. But, on Sunday morning when Jesus stepped out of the tomb, it was a different story. He was alive. He lives forever. You can trust the risen Lord and Savior to give you eternal life today. Don't be ashamed of Him. Come to Him today in repentance and faith!

Are we who know the Lord as Savior praying as we should? Is our faith visible to the world? Is there a Daniel among us?

If we want to change the world, let's start by changing our own commitment! Let us rededicate ourselves to the Lord today - right now!