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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
November 27, 2011
Daniel’s Prayer – An Example to Follow
As I was reading through a reprint of E.M. Bounds book, “Power Through Prayer,” I was struck by the proverbial saying that “nothing really ever changes.” E.M. Bounds served the Lord through the Civil War until his death in 1913. Over a century ago Bounds said,
“We are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or organization. God’s Plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.
What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better [machinery], not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer.
You see, nothing has really changed. As this church seeks to reach this community for Christ we must be careful to lay a foundation of true prayer. Innovation in outreach methods is good and it is needed, but unless the foundation of prayer is well laid, we will not have a truly effective ministry.
Bounds said in his book, “The Weapons of Prayer”;
Nothing is more important to God than prayer in dealing with mankind. But it is likewise all-important to man to pray. Failure to pray is failure along the whole line of life. It is failure of duty, service, and spiritual progress. God must help man by prayer. He who does not pray, therefore, robs himself of God’s help and places God where He cannot help man. Man must pray to God if love for God is to exist. Faith and hope, and patience and all the strong, beautiful, vital forces of piety are withered and dead in a prayerless life. The life of the individual believer, his personal salvation, and personal Christian graces have their being, bloom and fruitage in prayer.
In summary: “Prayer is an absolute necessity to the proper carrying on of God’s work. God has made it so.”
I hope you understand the absolute necessity of prayer. You cannot be a mature Christian without it, and whether Grace Bible Church goes forward in reaching this community for Christ or is stagnant or falls flat on its face depends on how the people of this church pray. Everything else is secondary.
Remember, salvation is the work of God’s grace as the Holy Spirit moves on a person’s heart and brings conviction of sin and faith in the person and work of Jesus. We are to be about the business of proclaiming the gospel and Christ’s kingdom, not selling Jesus. Jesus said that He would build His church. We are but tools in His hands.
We are to do the work of God “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). We must do the Lord’s work His way, or in reality we will be doing our own work in the power of our flesh. The first part of doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way is proper prayer.
This morning we come to a beautiful example of proper prayer from a man that lived a proper life. Turn to Daniel 9. We will see four things in this chapter that mark a True Heart of Prayer. They are:
1. Rooted in Scripture
2. Revealed in Confession
3. Responds in Supplication
4. Receives Answers
Rooted in Scripture – Daniel 9:1-3
First we find that Daniel’s prayer was Rooted in Scripture.
1 “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans– 2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was [revealed as] the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, [namely,] seventy years. 3 So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek [Him by] prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
Darius the Mede was the king who was over the Chaldeans as part of the greater Medo-Persian empire under Cyrus. We first met this man in Daniel 5 after the fall of Babylon which occurred in 539 B.C. (See: God’s Judgment of the Proud) This is also the same king that in Daniel 6 was persuaded to make a decree to cast into a den of lions anyone that made a petition to any man or god other than Darius during a 30 day period. Daniel did not waver in the least in his normal practice of prayer to the God of Heaven resulting in being cast into the den of lions despite Darius’ effort to circumvent his own foolish law. God did rescue Daniel and Darius decreed “that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel” (Daniel 6:26). (See: Remaining Firm in the Faith) This is not Darius Hystaspes (Darius I) who was not born until 522 B.C., some seventeen years after this event.
We have previously seen that Daniel was a man committed to prayer. In this chapter we find that he was also a man committed to the study of God’s word as it was available to him. We are used to being able to access written materials easily, but back then everything had to be copied by hand. Copies of sacred writings would have been very expensive if they were attainable at all. We must also remember that the Jewish community in Babylon had been transported there as captives. Their access to the Scriptures would also have been limited. We can safely assume that Daniel’s high position helped him gain in access to the sacred scrolls for both himself and the greater Jewish community in Babylon.
While we do not know all the scrolls Daniel had available to him, verse 2 records he was reading from the writings of Jeremiah. The particular passage referred to is Jeremiah 25:11-12 which tells the length of time the land would be desolate stating, “And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 ‘Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the Lord, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.‘”
As Daniel reads he discerns that 70 years is now completed for Babylon has fallen as prophesied. This prompts Daniel to “give
his attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” The fasting, sackcloth and ashes show both the intensity and humility with which Daniel came to God in prayer. Daniel may have also read through to Jeremiah 29:9 which contains the promise of return stating, “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.” However, the content of the prayer indicates that Cyrus had not yet issued His decree of return when Daniel prays the prayer recorded in verses 4-19.
The point I want to stress here is that Daniel prayed as a result of his study of Scripture. A true heart of prayer is rooted in Scripture. We too should be moved to pray by our involvement with and understanding of Scripture. Bible study and prayer go hand in hand each providing motivation for the other. The Bible reveals the God we love and His plan and bolsters our faith. To read the Bible and not be motivated to pray shows an academic or legalistic faith both of which are shallow or even dead faiths. The other extreme is those who pray without Biblical discernment. While it is commendable to pray even if you are ignorant of the Scriptures, God does not want you to stay that way. He wants you to know Him and His will and learn to pray accordingly as modeled here by Daniel.
Revealed in Confession – Daniel 9:4-15
As we begin to examine Daniel’s prayer, we find that the overwhelming element in it is confession. Seventy-two percent of Daniel’s prayer is spent in confession. A true heart of prayer is revealed in confession. Confession means to “agree with.” This may involve admission of guilt or profession of faith. To confess means you agree with God about both Him and yourself. Confession believes and seeks God because of his character and actions while acknowledging the sorry truth about your character and actions so that you plead for His mercy, grace and aide.
Daniel begins by proclaiming his agreement with truths concerning God’s character. Verse 4, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments.” God is great, awesome, faithful, loving, kind, and discerning. That is a blessing to those that love God and keep His commandments.
Next, Daniel continues by agreeing with God concerning the sins of his people. Verses 4 & 5, “We have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Thy servants the prophets, who spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.”
Daniel knew well the history of his people and that they missed the goal of being God’s holy people and instead had broken God’s commandments. Jeremiah 25, the section Daniel had been reading, even details some of this with verse 7 stating, “yet you have not listed to Me,” declares the Lord, “in order that you might provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm.” They had practiced evil and rebelled against God in action and attitude. Rebellion in action in that they turned away from God’s commandments. Rebellion in attitude in that they would not listen to the prophets who spoke God’s word to them.
Please note here that Daniel was an upright man. Ezekiel 14:14 places him alongside Noah and Job as righteous men. Yet here we find that Daniel, a righteous man, includes himself in this prayer of confession. He does not say “they,” but instead, “we.”
In verses 7 & 8 Daniel continues by confessing that God was just is scattering them throughout the nations. “Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day – to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which Thou hast driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against Thee.” Daniel agrees that God is righteous and Israel deserves shame because of their unfaithfulness to Him. What unfaithful deeds? The worst was their forsaking God to burn incense to other gods as recorded in 2 Chronicles 34:25 as the reason for God’s wrath against them.
In verses 9-15 Daniel confesses that the Lord God has actually been compassionate and forgiving toward them. The people had disobeyed the Lord and rejected following Him, so the Lord had only carried out the consequences He had forewarned them about.
“To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth. Therefore, the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who has brought Thy people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and has made a name for Thyself, as it is this day – we have sinned, we have been wicked.”
There are several places in the law of Moses in which God warns the nation about the curses that would come upon them if they rejected and disobeyed Him. The most detailed warning is given in Deuteronomy 28. The curses would start off relatively minor and then steadily increase if the nation continued in its rebellious disobedience to the Lord. The history of the nation shows that God did in sequence exactly what He said he would do concluding with the deportation of the people and the destruction of Jerusalem.
We could summarize this section of Daniel’s prayer saying that he confessed that the Lord God is holy, just and righteous. He had been compassionate and forgiving toward Israel. However, they had sinned greatly against Him in every area, so that the shame that had fallen on them was well deserved, and the Lord was just in keeping His promises concerning the curses that had come upon them.
Daniel’s true heart of prayer is be recognized by its confession to God. His example shows that the confession of sin will be about both personal sins, and, by identification, also with those within groups to which you belong – your own families, church and nation.
Following Daniel’s example we can cry out concerning our own nation, “Lord God our Father, You are great and awesome. You are faithful to Your word and never fail Your promises. Father, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Father, you are merciful and compassionate. You have extended your mercy and grace to us though we have become wretched. O God in heaven, our hearts have grown cold and we have turned against You. We have abandoned the teachings of your Word and instead teach our children the futile thoughts of men as truth. We pursue pleasure rather than holiness and inequity rather than justice. We have condoned evil calling it good while persecuting those who walk in righteousness. O Lord, You are righteous and just in that we find our nation in its current calamity and merciful in that it is not already much worse. Father, even the church which you have called to Yourself to proclaim Your name has
grown cold and has left its first love. We have not been effective in reaching our community for Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, for things such as entertainment programs, sports, hobbies, bank accounts, positions of power and creature comforts have become more important to us than serving You with the gifts You have given to us. Father, we have sought to do things by following the wisdom of the world instead of coming to You in humility asking for Your wisdom and doing Your work in Your way. We have not come to You in lowliness of mind being fervent and diligent in prayer. Father, You are just in the current curses on this nation and whatever judgment is still to come.”
That is how the example of Daniel’s prayer could be applied to our nation in confession. However, Daniel did not stop with confession and neither should we in following his example of a true heart of prayer. Daniel goes on to respond in supplication.
Responds in Supplication – Daniel 9:16-19
Daniel begins his requests to the Lord in verse 16. “O Lord, in accordance with all Thy righteous acts, let now Thine anger and Thy wrath turn away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us.
Notice, that while there is still confession, Daniel starts to humbly and earnestly ask a request of God. The next verse reveals the specific request. “So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplications, and for Thy sake O Lord, let Thy face shine on Thy desolate sanctuary.
Daniel wants God to restore the temple in Jerusalem which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and left desolate. Daniel’s request is not for himself. Daniel is now very old and would not see a rebuilt Temple even if it was started that day. His request is for “Thy sake O Lord.” This becomes even clearer in verse 18.
“O my God, incline Thine ear and hear! Open Thine eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Thy name; for we are not presenting our supplications before Thee on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Thy great compassion.”
Daniel plainly recognizes that there is nothing that he or anyone else could do that would give merit or make worthy this request. The request then is not for the glory of the nation of Israel. The request must rest totally on God’s compassion. But then, God’s compassion is a great place to put your confidence. The section of this prayer in verse 19 reveals Daniel’s great passion and his intensity.
“O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.”
Daniel’s passion is that the Lord God be glorified. The temple and the nation of Israel were called the people of God. Daniel was requesting that God glorify Himself by restoring the temple and His people again. Daniel could be confident in the prayer because it was based on what God had already revealed in Scripture.
Remember, I already pointed out that while Jeremiah prophesied that the land would be desolate for seventy years, he also prophesied that the Lord would fulfill His good word to them and bring them back to Jerusalem. While Deuteronomy 28 details the many curses that would fall upon them when they would abandon the Lord and seek other gods, Deuteronomy 30 gave them a promise of being restored from captivity and brought back to the land.
While we cannot pray in the same way for this nation as Daniel did for Israel, we can pray in a similar way. America is neither God’s chosen people nor do we have any promise by Him that this land belongs to us and our descendants in perpetuity. However, we can call upon God in humility and beg for His mercy for our nation, and more specifically, His hand on His people that are in this nation.
Such a prayer for this nation would be something like this: “O Lord God, our heavenly Father, in accordance with your righteousness, though we have sinned against You, we, in humility come to you with our request. We recognize our poverty of spirit – that we can do nothing on our own, but only as You see fit to use us for your glory can we accomplish anything. Father, we ask you to listen to our supplication and that you glorify yourself in this nation and in these people. We do not request this for glory or prominence that might be given to this nation or to any person, but rather we desire that Your name would be glorified in and by this nation once again has it has in the past. Stir up Your people that belong to Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Prod them to holiness. Spur them to righteous living. Embolden them to openly proclaim You and your gospel to all. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! Father send a revival that will shake this nation from coast to coast. For thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, that your name may be glorified.”
Daniel’s prayer is an example of a true heart of prayer because it was rooted in Scripture, was revealed in confession and responds in supplication. In God’s mercy and grace, it also received answers.
Receives Answers – Daniel 9:20-23
God’s answers to prayer come in His timing. In Daniel’s case, God granted the answer quickly as recorded in verses 20-23.
“Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God, while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. And he gave me instruction and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.”
God dispatches the angel Gabriel to go to Daniel and give him an answer to His supplication. While we cannot nor should we expect such angelic answers to our supplications, for even Daniel, a man of extraordinary righteousness, only had a few such open and obvious encounters with angels. However, we can expect that God will answer our prayers that are in accordance with His will. 1 John 5:14-15 tell us, “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
There are three reasons for unanswered prayer. James 4:2-3 explains two of them. “. . . You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Do not expect an answer to a prayer you have not prayed, and don’t expect to receive what you want when that request is generated out of your own selfish desire and not according to His will. The third reason is simply that we do not want to acknowledge an answer from God that is “no” or “wait.”
Daniel’s example is that prayer that is rooted in scripture, revealed in confession and responds with supplication will receive an answer. How does your prayer life compare with Daniel’s? Are you mindful to be reading and studying the Scriptures for yourself? Are you stimulated to pray by the Bible with a Biblical mindset? Are your prayers marked by confession which includes both adoration of and declaring the attributes and actions of God along with your humble admission of your sins? Do you at times confess the sins of the groups to which you belong and then intercede for them? David’s confession in Psalm 51 is another good example of this. Do you come to God with your requests in humility or are your supplications closer to a wish list for Santa Claus
or even demands of what you want God to do? True prayer, proper prayer, receives an answer because it is humble and according to God’s will. My prayer is that all of us will receive answers from God as He moves mightily among us to accomplish His will through us who are His humble servants as was Daniel.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Count how many times “prayer” is mentioned. Discuss with your parents how you can follow Daniel’s example of prayer.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why is prayer so important in order for a church to reach its community for Christ? What is the relationship of prayer with seeing people getting saved? Who was Darius the Mede? About what year did the events in Daniel 9 take place? What passage in Jeremiah was Daniel reading? What does that passage say about the prophesied 70 years? What other prophecies did Jeremiah make concerning the 70 years? Why does this stimulate Daniel to pray? What should be the relationship between Bible study and prayer? What is confession? What did Daniel confess concerning God and His character? Regarding the previous actions of the Jewish nation? Why does Daniel conclude himself in the confession of Israel’s sins? How had God been compassionate and forgiving toward Israel? Where in the law of Moses does it warn about the consequences to the nation if it rejected and disobeyed God? How does the history of Israel parallel those warnings? What should be included in your confessions when you pray? How does Daniel transition from confession to supplications? What specifically did Daniel want God to do? What does Daniel state should be the motivation for God to grant his request? What Biblical basis did Daniel have to make this request of God? Why can’t we pray for our nation as Daniel did for Israel? How can / should we pray for our nation? How did God answer Daniel’s prayer? Should we expect similar answers to our own prayers? Why or why not? How can we have confidence that God will answer our prayers? How have you seen God answer your prayers in the past? What are some of the reasons that God does not answer prayers? How will you recognize an answer to your prayer that is either “no” or “wait?” How can your prayer life improve by following Daniel’s example?
Sermon Notes – 11/27/2011 –
Daniel’s Prayer: An Example to Follow – Daniel 9:1-23
If a Church wants to reach its community for Christ, it must be careful to lay down a foundation of _____
____________ is an absolute necessity to the proper carrying on of God’s work. God has made it so.
Salvation is the work of God’s __________ as the Holy Spirit moves upon a person
Zechariah 4:6 – we must do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s __________ – it is by His power
Rooted in Scripture – Daniel 9:1-3
Darius the Mede is the _______ man as in Daniel 5:31 and Daniel 6. It is not Darius Hystaspes (Darius I)
Daniel’s high position enabled him to gain access to copies of the sacred __________including Jeremiah
Daniel’s reading of Jeremiah __________ concerning the 70 years of desolation prompts him to pray
Bible study and ___________ go hand in hand each providing motivation for the other.
Revealed in Confession – Daniel 9:4-15
Confession means to “_________________”and includes the truth about God, His character and your sin
Daniel begins by proclaiming his agreement with truths concerning God’s __________________- verse 4
Daniel agrees with God concerning the ____________ of his people – verses 4 & 5
Daniel is a _____________ man (Ezekiel 14:14), yet he includes himself in the prayer of confession
Daniel agrees that God was ___________ in scattering them throughout the nations – verses 7 & 8
Daniel confesses that God has been _______________________and forgiving toward them – verses 9-15
The law of Moses warned about the _________that God would bring if they were disobedient – Deut. 28
Daniel’s example is that confession includes personal sins and those of the ________to which you belong
Responds in Supplication – Daniel 9:16-19
Daniel transitions from confession to humble and earnest ________________ of God – verse 16
Daniel desires that the ____________in Jerusalem be built for the sake of the Lord’s glory – verses 17-18
Daniel’s passion is that the Lord God be ________________ – verse 19
Jeremiah prophesied restoration to the land following the 70 years of desolation in keeping with _______
We cannot pray for our nation as Daniel did for Israel, but we can pray for God to be ______________
Receives Answers – Daniel 9:20-23
God quickly sent ____________ in answer Daniel’s supplication
1 John 5:14-15. We can be confident God will answer our prayers when we pray according to _________
James 4:2-3. God does not answer prayers not made nor prayers rooted in ____________ desire
People often do not acknowledge God’s _______________ when it is “no” or “wait”
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