Daniel; A Man of Prayer: Part 1 of 3
by John Lowe
The 9th Chapter of Daniel gives us, first-of-all, a model for prayer; and then secondly, we are encouraged by what it says.
Text: "O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God; for thy city and thy people are called by thy name."—Daniel 9:19.
Bible Reading: Daniel Chapter 9
DANIEL was a man who held a high government position in the kingdom of Babylon. He was taken as a slave from Palestine, but, by the will of God, he had been raised to a high office in Babylon. So, it shouldn’t be surprising if he had forgotten his less fortunate countrymen. Unfortunately! Some of us might have known those that have even forgotten their poor fellow Christians, because they thought they were too good to worship with their former less fortunate friends and family when they themselves had become better off.
But it wasn’t that way with Daniel. Even though he had been made a high official of the empire, he still thought of himself as a Jew. When he saw the misery of his people he felt miserable, and he thought that it would be an honor for him to share in their suffering. However, he couldn’t do that since God had made him important and had blessed him with wealth; therefore, he couldn’t make himself as poor and as hated as they were.
But he had to do something, so he prayed for them and pleaded with God to end their misery. This is how Daniel describes what he did, “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” However, Daniel was not only a man with a lot of authority; he was also a man with very high spiritual values. He was thankful and happy because God had blessed him, but he was sorry for those of his people who suffered from the brutality of the Babylonians.
Folks, it’s discouraging to me that so many Christians believe they are blessed by God, and yet they look down on Christians who are less fortunate than they are. People who think like this are mistaken in the opinion they have of themselves. Daniel showed his sympathy for his poorer and less fortunate countrymen by praying for them. And, he probably showed his sympathy in other ways, but this time he showed it by interceding for them with God.
I believe the 9th Chapter of Daniel gives us, first-of-all, a model for prayer; and then secondly, we are encouraged by what it says
Let’s look first at Daniel’s--MODEL PRAYER.
The first thing I want to say about this prayer of Daniel’s is that it was not made without giving it some thought. He didn’t offer this prayer like some people do, as if it was something that didn’t require any prior thought. We have been taught to prepare before we give a speech. But, we have never been told to prepare before we speak to God. Have you ever thought that it might be a good idea to prepare your heart, before you open your mouth to speak to God? Don’t you think we often begin to pray without giving any kind of consideration to what we are going to say? The result is our loss, since we fail to express ourselves about something—our gratitude, our love, concern for the needs of others, or our needs
But, Daniel's preparation started when he read God’s Word. He had with him an old copy of the book of the prophet Jeremiah, and he read it through. Folks, I wish I studied my Bible more than I do! I wish we all did! You may have told a man, when you ask him to do something for you, "You said you would do it." You have him then. And, God is also obligated to keep His word, that is, the promises He made in His Holy Book. So, when we pray, we can mention His promises and that they give us something to look forward to, and then ask Him to fulfill them. If you study God’s Word, your prayers may burst out of your knowledge of scripture, and then you will pray a Daniel like prayer.
But, will you notice next, Daniel's prayer was mingled with a great deal of humility. It’s always good for us to express humility when we speak to God in prayer. We always pray our best prayers when we pray out of the depths of our heart. Sometimes, when we reach a low point in our lives, we can pray with more passion as we plead our case to God. It’s sin that takes us down to the low level of a sinner.
We need to see as much of our sinful condition as God will allow us to see of it. You can’t see
too much of Christ, but you just might see too much of your sin, but that’s rarely the case. We need to see both our deep-down needs and our great sins, before we truly recognize what Jesus has done for us. Only after that, can we pour out our self-righteousness; and only then are we able to say from our heart, "It’s not because we are righteous that we pray, but because we have sinned.” But never have the idea that you deserve God’s forgiveness, or that you have earned it by some good deed you have done. You can’t expect anything from God unless you put yourself in the right place, that is, as a beggar at His feet; then He will hear you, but not until then.
The next thing that Daniel’s prayer teaches is that “It was energized by enthusiasm for God's glory.” We can sometimes pray with the wrong motives. For instance, if I want to see people saved in my ministry, isn’t that a good motive? Yes, it is; but suppose I want to see souls saved in order that people will say about me, "He is a great preacher." That is a bad motive, which spoils all my work for Jesus. And if I am a member of a Bible-believing Church and I pray for its success, isn’t that right? It certainly is; but if I want it to be successful just because I want others to be able to say, "Look at their dedication to the Lord! See how God blesses them more than others!" that is a wrong motive.
The proper motive is this, "That God will be glorified, and that Jesus will see the result of his sufferings! That sinners will be saved, so that God will have new voices to praise him, and new hearts to love him! That there will be no more sin, and that the holiness, righteousness, mercy, and power of God will be preached everywhere!" This is the way to pray; when you want to give glory to God. If you are praying for those things that will glorify Him, you can rest assured that your prayers are heard in heaven. Remember, "God's glory"—should be above everything else; first, last, and always it should be the object of our prayers.
Next, I want you to see how intense Daniel's prayer was.
He prayed, "O Lord, hear: O Lord, forgive: O Lord, hearken and do, defer not for thine own sake." The repetitions he spoke express intensity. However, when we pray in front of others, we shouldn’t repeat the name, "O Lord, O Lord, O Lord," so often, since God calls that vain repetition. But, when the repetition of His holy name comes from the heart, then it is not vain repetition; then it cannot be repeated too often, and it shouldn’t be subject to criticism like I just did. So, take note of how Daniel seems to pour out his soul with "O Lord, O Lord, O Lord," as if he will call upon God again, and again and a third time, until God hears his request.
The Lord may not answer cold prayers, but the persistent prayers of a righteous man will always get an answer back. When the child of God cannot take "No" for an answer, he or she will not have "No" for an answer. Friends, if there was only one person here that can pray as Daniel did, with intensity, the blessings will come. That should encourage any sincere man or woman here that worries that others are not as excited about prayer as they should be. Folks, God will send a blessing to many because of the prayer of one. But how much better would it be if all of us here, and the entire Church of God, were stirred up to pray for God’s kingdom?
Another thing we could say about this prayer is, “This remarkable prayer was a prayer of understanding.” Even when some people are sincere, they talk nonsense, and I think I have heard prayers which God might understand, but I am not sure if I did. But here is a prayer we can understand as well as God.
It begins thus, "O Lord, hear." He asks if God will hear him. This is how a lawyer does when he presents his case to an earthly judge: he asks to be heard. Daniel begins with that, "O Lord, hear. I am not worthy to be heard: if thou shut me and my case out of hearing, it will be just." He asks an audience: he gets it, and now he goes immediately to his point, "O Lord, forgive." He knows what he wants. Sin was the cause of his trouble, and it’s the cause of all the suffering.