Daniel: Being a stand up person in a bow down world (week 12)

Daniel: a powerful prayer life. 
Daniel 9:1-27

In our modern fast-food and consumer culture we expect that God is giving to work in much the same way as the drive through at Macdonalds.  As soon as we ask for what we want it, it is delivered to our car windows within moments.  If this is our expectation even sublimally we have missed the mark of what it means to relate to the Almighty God.  Daniel’s relationship with God is a lesson in what it means to truly seek God.  Daniel 9 contains a powerful prayer and through it Daniel teaches us how to pray.

The first thing we notice about why Daniel begins to pray is because he has been studying the book of Jeremiah and realises that the 70 years of desolation of Jerusalem was almost over (Jer 25:11-12; 29:10-11)…and so this prompted him to seek God for what might be next.   Scripture was an important part of Daniel’s spiritual life; of how he was to understand his and his people’s circumstances and how he ought to seek God in the midst of those circumstances.  Unfortunately many believers do not value the bible as the inherrant word of God and neither do they exercise the discipline of searching the scriptures to understand God’s will for them and how they might line up their lives with his will even in prayer.  The bible is an absolute gift to us and helps us to understand our nature and our situations, if only we would mine it’s worth like Daniel did.

Daniel then begins to pray.  He begins with confession.  This confession contains two profound aspects to it.  Firstly it acknowledges who God is and secondly it acknowledges who we are and what we have done in relation to Him.  This is so key.  Whilest many people regret their sin because it has hurt them and they have to suffer the consequences within themselves, they haven’t truly confessed their sin until they have understood how their sin has hurt God, violated His holy name and been the cause of His suffering.  Until they understand this God’s grace will not be fully understood and transformative for them.

Next Daniel calls upon God’s covenant love and commitment to His people as a reason for why God might be merciful towards them.     Here, Daniel is not relying upon the peoples faithfulness but rather on God’s faithfulness and His commitment to keeping His promises.

As Daniel comes to the end of his prayer, God responds to his seeking by sending Gabriel to him to offer a revelation about the future of his people and Jerusalem. As Babylon prospers, Jerusalem still lay’s desolate and as Daniel prays humbly on the behalf of his people acknowledging both their rebellion and it’s consequences God responds by offering hope – Jerusalem will one day be restored.  But it will take a period of time described as “seventy times seven.” There is much controversy and disagreement amongst experts on the exact interpretation of the prophecy given in verses 24-27 of this chapter. This seventy weeks appears to be made up of 7 weeks/sevens, 62 weeks/sevens and finally 1 week/sevens.  The main source of contention revolves around this last one week and what exactly is being explained as happening within this one week.  For those who are interested I would commend John Lennox “Against the Flow” who offers some different and helpful perspectives.  But perhaps what is most encouraging is in verse 25 when Daniel predicts the Messiah being cut off.  He writes:

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One,[f] the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing.[g]

Listen to the sermon here

For discussion in communities:

Question to open discussion:

What methods and practises do you employ to study scripture?

Read together Daniel 9:1-27 + Jer 29:10-14

Q1.  Why do you think Jeremiah 29:10-14 drove Daniel to pray?  What can we learn from both how Daniel prayed and what he prayed?
Q2.  What do you think is the difference between regret and repentance?
Q3. What do you notice about how Daniel positions himself within the prayer?
Q4. What role does scipture play in your prayer life?  How do you use it in both adoration and intercession?
Q5. Just before Jesus was crucified he talked to his disciples about the temple and the city of Jerusalem (Luke 21:5-6, 20-24).  Do you think this helps us make sense of Daniel 9:26?  How do Acts 1:6-7 and 3:14, 19-21 carry on these ideas?
Q6. Compare Daniel 8:13; 11:31 with Matthew 24:15-28, what do you think is the significance of the “abomination that causes desolation”?
Q7.  How is studying Daniel’s apocalyptic passages, helping you to think about the world we live in?

For accountability + prayer:

You can use these discussion questions either in smaller prayer and accountability groups or as a part of your own individual devotional life.


Q1. What do your habits of studying God’s word at the moment?
Q2. Is there anything you need to confess at the moment?
Q3. In what ways could you align yourself more with God’s will?

Pray for each other that you might not be content with sin in your life.

For personal devotion + study:


Monday: Praying through scripture…

This week we are going to use scripture as a prompt for praying.  In particular psalm 145.  So use these verses as a spring board and framework for your daily prayer.

Psalm 145:1-16
I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.

Spend some time praying out loud the various names for God and who He is.

 


Tuesday: The Greatness of the Lord…
V 3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.

Spend some time reflecting upon and praying through why God is worthy of praise.


Wednesday: Commending God to others…
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendorof your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.

Over the course of this summer period there will be many festivals, camps + summer programs where generations will commend the works of the Lord to another.  Pray that the next generation will understand who God is.


Thursday: Celebrating God’s goodness…
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness. v7

Spend some time celebrating God’s abundant goodness in your life.


Friday: The Lord is gracious…The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.

9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

Spend some time praying and considering the many ways that the Lord has been compassionate and gracious towards you.


Saturday: The Lord is trustworthy….
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.[c]
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Ask the Lord to help you to trust him in every area of your life.