Hopeful Prayer

As long as I have been a Christian there is one discipline of grace that has plagued me—PRAYER. For the most part, The LORD has helped me keep the discipline of remaining the Word and remaining in community. But many times prayer has been a discipline drastically shifting up and down. I have been a Christian long enough to know it is not just my struggle, but the struggle of many Christians. The stats I looked at this week indicate that the younger people are less likely to have the discipline of daily prayer. So, my hope is today we can learn some helpful principles on prayer from Daniel that appear all over the Bible and church history.

Theme: Prayers can really mean something when we pray like people in the Bible.

1. Daniel’s Approach in Prayer—Daniel 9.1-3.

Daniel’s Approach Was Systematic  

In order to see this we need to first look back in the book of Daniel. We learn from Daniel 2.17-23 that Daniel and his friends might die. And Daniel’s inclination was to pray. Pressure pulls out the things that are important to us. What are our habits or disciplines when we come under pressure or stress? Those habits reveal what we are really putting our hope in—what we really trust and treasure. We also see in Daniel 6.10 that in the midst of another stressful situation that Daniel decides to pray, but the unique phrase in this verse is, “He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” Daniel had the habit of praying 3 times a day before the stress and when it came nothing changed for him. I believe God wants our habits toward prayer to be similar to Daniel.

 

Daniel’s Approach Was Biblical

The second approach we can see in Daniel’s prayer life is his prayers were rooted in the truths of Scripture. You can go back and look at Daniel 2.19-23 and see how much of Daniel’s prayer is rooted in truths he learned from Scripture. But I want you see this from our text today—READ Daniel 9.1-3. Daniel is the book of Jeremiah for his quiet time that day and it moves him to prayer. Nothing fuels our prayer life more than a daily dose of Scripture. There are some people who struggle with the daily discipline of prayer because they also struggle with the daily discipline of Bible reading. There are others who have developed the habit of prayer, but their prayers are so centered on themselves that their prayers are weak and man-centered. God used some other saints in church history to teach me the habit and power of daily praying the Bible. When we are truly reading the Bible for all its worth it should be driving us toward prayer. Many people want “action steps” from the Bible, things they can work on, and I would say our first action step should be “prayer.” That can look like stopping and praying what you have read out loud, journaling it, or some other discipline. Anyone not daily reading their Bible is dangerous and foolish. The Bible brings light into darkness, it is like turning the lights on so we can see what is really there. When we don’t daily read the Bible we leave ourselves in immaturity, but when you don’t allow your Bible reading to fuel your prayers it leaves your Bible reading as weak and lacking life changing desires.

 

2. Daniel’s Address in Prayer—Daniel 9.4.

When Daniel keeps his Bible reading together with his daily prayer it tells him how he should address God in prayer—READ Daniel 9.4. I have noticed in my own life and the life of others that we do not consider this a whole lot. I don’t know how this was developed over the years but many people strives to talk so casually to God. Daniel understands who He is talking to when he addresses God. He is addressing GOD. He is addressing the Creator of the universe. The God he is addressing is GREAT and AWESOME! God is not like us, so we do we address Him like He is? Some people are more respectful to their bosses, some politician, or some athlete than they are to God. When we come before God individually and corporately their should be an attitude and demeanor of reverence. We should not pray so casually—especially in the Gathering. The Gathering is a place where the outside world can see how we think about God, and the way we address Him says a lot.

 

3. Daniel’s Admission in Prayer—Daniel 9.5-14.

When Daniel encounters the reverence of God, when he thinks of Him as Creator, Daniel is immediately moved toward humility, He recognizes he is a creature, not Creator. As Daniel thinks through his frailty he is struck with his sinfulness and sinfulness of his people—READ Daniel 9.5-6. Some of you might be tempted the way I do and see Daniel confessing the sin of his people but not his own sin. Well with me at—READ Daniel 9.20.

 

Daniel’s Admission is Specific Individually

What we see in Daniel is our need to confess the holiness of God and sinfulness of ourselves. When we confess our sin I think we need to be specific. I think our confession should be specific so we can see what God is calling us to fight. We will not grow when we live in vague generalities. If we all can look into God’s Word, think about our lives in light of Christ’s, and not see sin then something is off, then something is seriously wrong. None of us have reached glory yet. No one in this room has reached perfection. We all have sin to confess before a perfectly holy God. The reason many of us will loose great passion for Christ is our view of ourselves is so inflated. When we see our NEED of Christ we will see our APPRECIATION steadily grow for Christ. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “when your sin is small then your Savior is small.” I am been a Christian for over 30 years now, and I am more aware of sins today. And I know there are many more that I am unaware of as well. The more I really examine the Word the more I see my sin and failures. This practice has been a means of grace in many Christians lives, and I hope it will be in all of ours.

 

Daniel’s Confession is Specifically Corporate

Personally confession is not the only thing Daniel confessed, but he also confessed the sin of his people. Some of you might be asking how can I make that claim? Look in Leviticus 20 and see all the punishment for child sacrifice. Does this take place in our land? YES IT DOES! According to a 2013 report there were 664, 435 abortions reported in our country. Some of these were for medical reasons that could have caused the death of mother or both mother and child. But that is NOT the majority. How many of us have been consistently praying for this abomination to end? Well let’s get more personal about our church, look in James 1.27 and see how important orphans and widows are to God. How long has it been since we have seen our church go above and beyond to care for the orphans and widows in our city? These are just a few examples. See we can pray for individual sins, but we can also pray for the sins of our city and the sins of our church.

 

Daniel knew his people had been sent into exile because of their sins, but he also knew they had not repented yet—READ Daniel 9.13. So, as Daniel is praying and asking when their exile will end he recognizes has not really happened among his people. Daniel cannot appeal to God by their righteousness, so how does Daniel appeal to God?

 

4. Daniel’s Appeal in Prayer—Daniel 9.15-19.

In the final part of this section Daniel makes his appeal to God—READ Daniel 9.15-19. According to these verses, what is the centerpiece of Daniel’s appeal? GOD! When Daniel pleas to God, when he asks for mercy, the foundation of his appeal is the glory of God? He opens this part with a reminder of what God has done before. The most important in Israel’s history was the Exodus. This was their salvation event. God rescued the entire nation from their oppressors. Daniel does not forget the sin of him and his people, but longs for God to rescue his people “for [His name’s] sake.” He longs to see the Temple restored for God’s glory. Daniel understands the Temple lying in ruins makes the God of Israel look weak. Daniel identifies his people with God’s name.

 

While we are not Israel we share some similar traits. Our great salvation event was the Cross. We were in bondage yet God used His great power to destroy our oppressors of sin, satan, and death through His Son, Jesus Christ. God did not leave His Temple desolater, but raised Jesus from the dead. So now we do not present our please before God because of our own righteousness, but because of His great mercy He has shown us in Jesus. Now we can appeal to God, we can request He pay attention, incline His ears, we can ask Him to open His eyes to our desolation, and delay not His mercy toward, because we are His City, we are the people called by His name. This is now our appeal.