A Passion for Prayer
Reading from the Bible King James Version
Daniel 9:1-15 (Scripture reading) +
1) In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans 2) in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3) Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4) And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5) we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6) Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. 7) O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
8) “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9) To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11) Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12) And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
13) “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14) Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15) And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
Take your Bibles please and turn to Daniel 9:1-15, as we look at the first fifteen verses of this marvelous chapter, we see how to have a proper prayer life.
The message really is entitled, "A Passion for Prayer."
Children ask a lot of questions and I'm reminded of the 10-year-old boy who was walking down the street with his father one day he said, "Dad, what makes the sunshine?" And his father said, "I don't know." And the boy said, "Dad, what makes the grass grow?" And the father said, "I don't know." And the boy said, "Dad, what makes the moon glow?" And the father said, "I don't know." Then little boy said, "Daddy, you don't mind me asking you all these questions do you?" And his father said, "Absolutely not son. If you don't ask questions how are you going to learn anything?" Well questions, there always seem to be lots of questions. Let me ask you a question at the very beginning.
How is your prayer life? What is it like? In Daniel 9, we find out what Daniel's prayer life was like, and Daniel gives us a pattern for our own prayer life.
It was the great evangelist, D.L. Moody, who once said, "Those that have left the deepest impression on this sin cursed earth have been men and women of prayer." Robert Murray McShane said, "A great part of my time is spent in getting my heart in tune for prayer, because prayer is the link that connects earth to heaven." Dr. Guthrie an old saint of God who lived many years ago said, "The first sign of true spiritual life is prayer. It is also the means of maintaining spiritual life. Man can as well live physically without breathing as spiritually without praying."
Now, if it is true as D.L. Moody said, that the people who have made the greatest impact on the earth have been people of prayer, then we would expect Daniel to be a man of prayer and indeed he was. We see the pattern of his prayer life here in Daniel 9.
1st: Notice that true prayer is generated by God's Word. In Daniel 9:1-3 through the beginning of verse three.
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes,
which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his
reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of
the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in
the desolations of Jerusalem.
Daniel's prayer comes out of an understanding of the Word of God that he had just read in the book of Jeremiah. We know over and over again in the Bible we are told to watch unto prayer. Jesus said that repeatedly and what that means is look at what is happening, perceive what is going on around you, keep your eyes open, and then pray accordingly. The only way you can watch and know what to pray for then is, that you know what the Word of God says about what you are seeing roundabout you. So, we must perceive the world and its events, we must look at the church and its events in light of the Word of God.
We see that prayer is generated by God's Word. Daniel started to pray after he had read the book of Jeremiah and it stirred his heart. People that read the Bible, the Word of God, are people of prayer. Apart from the Word of God our prayers will find their way into meaningless babble.
2nd: Then coupled very closely with the first point, that prayer is generated by God's Word, is the second point and that is; true prayer is grounded in God's will. In Daniel 9:19, Daniel is crying out to God. It says, "O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not." Daniel says, God do what I read in Jeremiah that you said you would do and end the captivity of your people after the 70 years. Do your will.
1 John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” The disciples prayer says, "Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done."
Prayer is not to change the will or the mind of God. For God already desires what is the very best for all of us, but prayer is to line us up with his will. You say, "Well, what if I don't know what His will is in some matters?" Well that is what Romans 8:26 is all about. We read, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought." And isn't that the truth?
Do you know what the will of God is in every situation? Absolutely not; nobody does. We know what God's will is in some areas, but not in all areas. We know what God's will is in some areas because they are revealed for us in the Word of God.
(A) First of all, God's will is for everyone to be saved. We realize that as we read the Word of God in 2 Peter 3:9 which says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance." God's will is that everyone be saved. God is not willing that any should perish.
And so as we pray, we should be praying for the salvation of those around us that God has laid on our hearts, for our loved ones, our friends, and those of our neighbors that are unsaved. God's will is that there be no one that’s not saved, that everyone be saved. God wants everyone to come to the knowledge of the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We should be praying for those that are unsaved, on the mission field for missionaries as they serve around the world. We should be praying for our unsaved relatives and friends here that we are aware of.
(B) Secondly, God's will is not only that everyone be saved, but God's will is that for those that once they are saved live a sanctified life; saved and Sanctified. Sanctified means to set apart to be used by God, a holy life, a pure life, a life that is dedicated to serve the Lord.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, "For this is the will of God," here again we find the will of God. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.” So God's will is that we live a sanctified life once we come to know the Lord; that we live a morally clean life. We live a life that's ethical, a life that is good for others to pattern themselves after. And how we need to pray for all of our loved ones, our children, our grandchildren, and those that are our friends, and for ourselves that in a world where evil abounds so abundantly that we would stay clean morally, and that we would stay clean mentally, and that we would do what God wants us to do; we would be sanctified.
God wants us saved and God wants us sanctified. We ought to be praying as never before, not only for ourselves, but for all those around us. Also, certainly for our own families that God would keep them in line with His will, living for Him, and be morally clean and pure.
(C) God's will is that we not only be saved and sanctified, but that we should be sincerely thankful. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 the apostle Paul said to the Thessalonians believers, "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God." There is the will of God again. "For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
Oh, how many times we grumble and we complain and we become negative and we gripe. We become grouchy. We are not thankful as we ought to be. We are not thankful to God for what He has done for us physically and spiritually. We are not thankful for what others do for us. Many times we just take it for granted and so we ought to be thankful. When we pray, we ought to pray with thanksgiving and praise thanking God for what He has done for us, and thanking the Lord for what He has laid upon the hearts of others to do for us as well.
(D) So, we ought to be saved, we need to be sanctified, we ought to be sincerely thankful and, when we pray, we ought to realize that sometimes we suffer. Yes God's will is that sometimes we suffer. We find that in 1 Peter 3:17 we read these words, "For it is better if the will of God be so." So it may be the will of God for some of our lives, "that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing." We find that also in the next chapter ,1 Peter 4:19 where it says, "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing as unto a faithful Creator."
So God's will is sometimes that we suffer. We don't like that, but we have to realize that is God's will. We have to ask God to help us as we go through these times of suffering, as He is conforming us the very image of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He would give us a thankful heart and we would accept what He permits us to go through. After all, He is the shepherd and we are the sheep. Nothing will come into your life or my life unless it comes past our Shepherd first.
We understand that God's will is that we be: (A) saved, (B) sanctified, (C) sincerely thankful, and sometimes yes, (D) even suffer. As we pray, we ought to have our prayers governed accordingly. Prayer is generated by God's Word. Prayer is grounded in God's will.
3rd: We realize that true prayer is given to fervency. We realize that in Daniel 9:3 where he says, "I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes." Now here we see Daniels fervency.
Now, there are many ways mentioned in the Bible that show the fervency of an individual. The wearing of sackcloth, the sitting in ashes and putting them on your head, the shaving of the head as in Job chapter 1, the smiting of the chest as in Luke chapter 18, the crying as in 1 Samuel chapter 1, and in many other places. Tearing garments, fasting, sighing, groaning, loud crying, all these are mentioned in the Bible as signs of fervency and intensity. So we see Daniel in fervent prayer and is really truly committed to prayer, he is pouring out his heart to God.
The Bible's full of examples of fervent praying. I think of Hannah, who in chapter 1 of 1st Samuel, pours out her heart to God that God would open her womb so she could have a child. I think of Esther pouring out her heart to God for her people, the Jewish nation, as Haman with his deceitful plan to annihilate the Jewish people, and it was found out by Esther. She went to God and asked God to help her to be able to go in and plead for her people before the King. In Esther 4:16 she says to her loved ones, “Go gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” You see she was fervent in prayer.
I think of Luke 11:5-10, our Lord gives us a small illustration of prayer, “And
he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at
midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
God is telling us there, that when we pray there ought to be fervency and intensity. Prayer cannot be just a passing thing. It cannot be a light matter, an indifferent matter, a frivolous matter. There must be fervency.
Someone once said years ago quote, "As a painted fire is no fire, as a dead man is no man, so cold prayer is no prayer. In a painted fire there is no heat, in a dead man there is no life, and in a cold prayer there was no devotion and no blessing. Cold prayers are like arrows without heads, swords without edges, birds without wings. They pierce not, they cut not, they fly not." Cold prayers do always freeze before they get to heaven. God deliver us from cold prayers, cold routine, ritualistic, repetitious prayers. How sad that we pray like that many times.
Many times we are like the man who repeated the same phrase over and over again in prayer meeting, when he prayed, "Lord, clear away the cobwebs that separate you from us. Lord, clear away the cobwebs that separate you from us. Lord, clear away the cobwebs that separate you from us." Finally one man couldn't stand it any longer and he jumped to his feet and he prayed, "Lord kill the spider, Lord kill the spider."
Do you see how ritualistic and indifferent our prayer life is many, many times? No wonder we do not see happening in our own homes, in our churches, in our lives what God wants to do because of our cold prayers.
The Bible says in Psalm 126:6, “He that goeth forth with weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Weeping is showing fervency. That's what James 5:16 says when it says, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. So Daniel prayed fervently, and so must we if we ever expect to see God answer and bless.
4th: We understand that not only is true prayer given to fervency but true prayer is realized in self-denial. In Daniel 9:4 it says, “And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God.” You see the heart of true prayer is an awareness that we don't even belong in the presence of God. We don't belong in the presence of the Almighty and awesome God that we serve. You don’t have and I don't have one thing to commend ourselves to God. Daniel made his confession because he knew he didn't belong in the presence of God. Daniel begins with the recognition that he doesn't belong there.
Abraham, in Genesis 18:27, felt the same way when he said, “Behold now, I have taken unto me to speak unto the Lord, who am I but dust and ashes.” Abraham says, I don't even belong here. Isaiah felt the same way. In Isaiah chapter 6 he says, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts,” (Is. 6:5). The apostle Paul recognized the same concept about himself when he said that, “I am the chief of sinners,” (1 Tim. 1:15). You see he didn't belong in the presence of God and he knew it.
Daniel understands the same thing here. Daniel can speak and intercedes for someone else only after he makes sure that his own life is in proper perspective. We must make sure that we take heed to ourselves as it says over and over again in the New Testament before we can actually pray for others. There must be a self-denial. We must die to self daily. We must understand that it is an awesome thing to come before the throne of grace, and we truly don't deserve to be there, but for the shed blood of Jesus Christ we couldn't be there.
5th: We realize that true prayer is identified with God's people. In Daniel 9:5-16 you will notice that some 28 times the pronouns our, us, and we are mentioned. These pronouns are used over and over again in Daniel 9:5-16. It's important for us to understand that Daniel is identifying with the people that he's praying for. Daniel links himself with his own people. Paul did the same thing in Ephesians 6:18, he says that he was “Praying always with all prayer and supplication... for all saints.” And so, the focus of our prayers is to be on others; always and ever on others. After all, we are all one body in Christ. When one member hurts the whole body hurts. When one member rejoices the whole body rejoices.
1 Samuel 12:23 simply says, “God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you.” The focal point of our prayer life should not be ourselves, but it should be others. Prayer takes in the needs of all of God's people. Prayer is not a private personal exercise in order to get God's “goodies” for ourselves.
Prayer is not like the little boy Bobby thought it was. One day little Bobby was talking to his pastor and his pastor said, "Bobby, do you say your prayers every night?" And little Bobby said, "Oh no pastor, not every night. Some nights I don't want anything at all." Many times we only pray when we want something for ourselves. Instead, we should be praying for others, always and ever for others.
In Philippians 1, the apostle Paul says, “I'm praying for you.” In Colossians 1:9, the apostle Paul says again to this church in Colossae, “I'm praying for you.” In Philemon verses 4 and 5 Paul says, “I'm praying for you.” In Romans 15 he says, “I'm always praying for others.” When we pray, if I pray for you and you pray for me then neither one of us gets selfish. That's the way the body of Christ should function. We need to learn that lesson and learn it well.
As Daniel identified with God's people so must we if we expect our prayer life to mean anything at all. So we see that true prayer is identified with God's people.
6th: We understand true prayer is strengthened in confession. In Daniel 9:20 we read, “And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel.” You notice that he uses the words “my sin.” He was confessing his sin. Without his confession of sin, he was not really able to communicate much with God. Over and over again he is confessing his sin and the sin of his people. There is confession here; there is recognition here of his sin here. We see that over and over again in Daniel 9. In Daniel 9:5 he says, “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled.” In Daniel 9:10 he says, “Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws.” In Daniel 9:11 he says, “Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice.” And then at the end of Daniel 9:11 he says, “we have sinned against Him.” In the middle of Daniel 9:13 again he says, “yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God.” We didn’t even pray and ask for forgiveness “that we might turn from our iniquities.” And then at the end of Daniel 9:14 he says, “for we obeyed not His voice.” And in Daniel 9:15 he says, “we have sinned, we have done wickedly.” There is this recognition that he needs to confess his sin.
When God is at work in a person's life then repentance and confession of sin becomes a norm, because the closer you are to the Lord the greater will be your sense of sinfulness. The closer you get to the light the more sin it reveals. And the more you mature in Christ the more sensitive you become about your sin.
By the time David had matured as a believer and committed the horrible sins that he did, especially with Bathsheba, he confesses and pours out his heart broken heartedly before God. In Psalms 32 and Psalms 51, because his sin was destroying him, devastating him, crushing him, he couldn't eat right, he couldn't sleep right, all because of his sin. His sin tore him to ribbons on the inside. Paul felt the same way when he said in Romans 7, the things I shouldn't do, I do: the things which I should do, I don't do. “Oh wretched man that I am,” (Romans 7:24).
Confession is a daily part of the life of a godly man or godly woman. That is the part of Daniel's life here. It should be a part of your life and my life as well. The nearer you get to God the dirtier you feel. And in Daniel 9:7 he says at the beginning, “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces.” He says the same thing in Daniel 9:8, “O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face.” Notice twice he says, “confusion of face.” What does that mean? It means we are ashamed, we are embarrassed. The shame was showing on their faces; they were ashamed of themselves.
One of the truest elements of confession is when God chastens us for sin and we accept the responsibility for that sin. The chastening we receive is because we have sinned. We don't blame God. But people today blame God. Nobody wants to take and assume responsibility for anything that they do. It all started back with Adam. Remember in Genesis when he said to God, “the woman that you gave me, gave me of the fruit of the tree.” He was blaming God. In Revelation chapter 6 when the Holocaust breaks loose from heaven, people blaspheme God, and they curse God, and they mock God. They say, we don't deserve this and blame God again.
People say there can't be a God even today, there is so much disaster, devastation, death, and disease in the world. Man will not accept the responsibility for the consequences of his own sin. But Daniel does in Daniel 9:11, “Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice.” Daniel simply says that we have sinned, it is our fault. We admit it, we deserve what we are getting, we deserve our punishment.
When we sin and things start to go wrong in your life, don't blame God. Don't blame others; it is you. Don't mock God, don't get angry with God, don't be bitter with God, and don’t get upset with God. It’s you and it’s me; it is not God.
He says in Daniel 9:14, “Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all His works which He doeth.” God doesn't make any mistakes. God knows exactly what he's doing. Daniel did not blame God for the chastening of the Jewish people when they were in captivity. They were receiving chastening because of their sin, and so prayer is strengthened in confession of sin. You and I will never be used effectively by God until we confess known sin.
I always think of Psalms 51:10-13, the Psalm of David, and David is crying out in confession of his sin and says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” Notice, David could not be used of God. He could not teach transgressors the Lord's ways, and sinners would not be converted unto the Lord until he himself was right with God. That word “then,” in the beginning of Daniel 9:13, is the key. He says until I am right with you in Daniel 9:10, 11, and 12, then I'll never be able to do anything for you in Daniel 9:13. We need to confess sin if we ever expect to be used by God and be effective for God.
And so, what about you? What about your prayer life? What is it like? How would you describe it? Are you fervent in prayer? I mean, not filled with apathy, and complacency, and indifference, and something you try to squeeze into the little bit of time that you want to give God. But are you fervent in having intensity in your prayers? Do you identify with God's people? Do you pray for others more than you do for your own personal needs? Do you confess sin to Him, and accept the consequences of your sin without getting angry or bitter with God? Do you have time for a proper prayer life everyday?
Remember it is still true as D.L. Moody said years ago, “the people who make the greatest impact on this earth have been men and women of prayer.” You and I will never make the impact that God wants us to make. We will never be effective for God without a proper prayer life.
Whatever decision you need to make now concerning your prayer life, make that commitment now to have the kind of prayer life God wants you to have.
If you've never come to know Christ as your personal Savior, then certainly the first prayer you need to make before any prayer is the sinner's prayer:
God be merciful to me a sinner. Please forgive me of my sin. Come into my life and my heart, and help me to live this day forward for you. Thank you for saving me.
If you've never done that I hope you'll do that today.
Would you pray with me please? [Praying] Father I thank you for your Word. I
thank you for the wonderful example of the proper pattern of prayer from Daniel.
Lord, we realize that he was a man who you used in a great way, but the only way
you were able to use him was because he was a man of prayer. We realize, Father
that, that's what you want for each one of us. Jesus set the pattern to follow,
always rising early before daybreak and praying, going and retreating to the
garden of Gethsemane and praying. Always praying for others and always praying
that, “Thy will be done.” I pray that you would help us to have the kind of
prayer life you want us to have, that others would see Jesus in us, and we would
make an impact on this world that you want us to make. And we'll thank you for
that. For we pray and ask it all in Jesus name. Amen, and Amen.
Copyright © 2013 Mullica Hill Baptist Church NJ - Dr. Al McLeod ThD PhD, Author. All rights reserved worldwide.