Daniel 9:1-19 (Part 1) – After the Nuclear Explosion of Excuses, the Target Remains

Posted: June 21, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 9:1-19 (Part 1)

Daniel’s Prayer for His People

Does your prayer life leave you disappointed? Do you even pray at all? I know that my prayer life is not what it should be. Sure, I pray when asked. I pray before my small group about the prayer requests that have been offered up during our meetings. I pray aloud at church events or functions when requested. I often search for the right buzz words to say when requested to pray. My prayers may even be moving and effective petitions to God on behalf of those who are listening. However, it is my private prayer life that is wanting. I have conversations and bits and pieces of prayers as the day goes by. But to sit down and pray to the Lord and to have quiet time with Him, my prayer life is wanting. I often pray most fervently when I want what I want and I want it now. My motives may well be in line with the will of God when I do pray but my prayers are lackluster at best. Although I may have matured in a lot of areas of my walk with Jesus over these past 15 years but my prayer life remains a baby prayer life. My excuses are many. I do have a very demanding job that I can never fully get away from – even on vacation. I do have a full time secular job and a part time ministry job. The time is short because of all that. Add to that, this morning, I began getting back into my early weekday morning exercise routine that has been sorely lacking for the last six months or so. I think God wants me to get this weight off me for health reasons and for ministry reasons as well so I see that as extremely important as well. Then, there’s my daily blog that I write here virtually every day as I walk through and study straight through books of the Bible. That is necessary not just for those who happen to read my blog but it is necessary for me to continue reading, learning, and then taking life applications away from my Bible study. All of it necessary, right? Yes, it is all necessary.

 

But, like the nuclear explosion intended to blow away the attack ship of the aliens over the city of Houston in the movie, Independence Day, and they ask for verification, the soldier says, “the target remains, sir. I repeat the target remains.” The target remains. My prayer life, my personal, private prayer life is a target that remains. No matter the excuses that I use for not having private time with the Lord. No matter the excuses of it feeling awkward. No matter the excuses, the target remains. There is only so much growing that you can do in your life without a healthy prayer life, an intimate prayer life with the Creator of all Things, the Lord and Master of my life. A marriage without intimate times of discussion, sharing, and quality time together is a marriage that drifts apart, away from it center. A marriage without times of closeness, even if there is no infidelity, becomes a business partnership rather than a marriage. A marriage without times where you celebrate wholeheartedly together, cry great tears together, and just share life’s innermost feelings is just two roommates sharing a home. You drift apart eventually if you and your wife do not have that deep-hearted connection. Even if you stay together but are not close, it is just two folks pooling resources. It is the same with our God. We must have intimate time with Him. Our prayer life is how we become intimate with Him. A full-grown prayer life makes you feel the presence of the Lord more so that some half-hearted prayer at the dinner table. Prayer is not for Him. It is for us to grow closer and more intimate with Him.

 

It is that idea of a full-grown prayer life that I see when I read through today’s passage, Daniel 9:1-19. Let’s read through it together here today:

 

9 In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian[b] kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

 

4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

 

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

 

7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

 

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

 

15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

 

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

 

Here in this passage, you see a full-blown prayer life. Daniel’s prayer life has got it going on! Daniel pleaded with God to bring about the promised return of his people to the Promised Land. The prophet Jeremiah had written that captive Israel would not be allowed to return to their native land until 70 years had passed. Daniel knew that this established time period set by God was coming to an end. The thing that I notice the most here is that Daniel confesses that he is a sinner along with his whole nation. He uses the pronoun, we, throughout his prayer. If any Israelite had proven his righteousness during this time period, it was Daniel. Yet, he confesses his sinfulness and need for God’s forgiveness. Instead of complaining about others or asking God to see their sins instead of his own, Daniel includes himself among the list of sinners. Maybe we should do the same in our prayer life. It should be just me and God. It should not be about getting God to do something to other people. It should be about seeking God’s help in seeing ourselves as who we really are. A real honest prayer life is like the difference between dating and marriage. We often want to show our best to God (like dating) rather than being honest with God about who we really are (like marriage).

 

Daniel knew how to pray. As he prayed, he fasted (for us that may mean giving up television for a specified time period and using that as intimate prayer time), confessed his sins (he was honest with himself and God about his sin nature), and pleaded that God would reveal His will (instead of our own will that God will execute for us). He prayed with complete surrender to God and with complete openness to what God would say to Him. When you and I pray, do we speak openly and honestly with God. We must examine our attitude. Just as we must be willing to be open and vulnerable in our marriage relationships for them to be more than mere business partnerships pooling mutual resources, we must be willing to be honest and vulnerable before God. We cannot hear God when we are not being open and honest with Him. Let us take our desires out of prayer and seek intimacy with our Father in Heaven. Maybe, we should practice with our spouses to get an idea of what we should be like with God. Maybe, we practice being more real with our spouses as we try to learn what God expects of us in prayer. God has always used our marriages as the one human experience that is to resemble what our relationship with Him should be like. So, let’s begin with that experiment. Let us make ourselves more open and vulnerable with the one we share this human existence with, our spouse, so that we can learn about how we are to be in our prayer life with God. He wants us to be close with Him. He wants some quality time with us. He wants us to see Him as more than this far-off remote, vending machine of a god. He wants the real us. He doesn’t want buzz word prayers and that’s it. He wants us to open up to Him. He wants the real us. Not some canned, prepared go-to prayer. He wants intimacy. Daniel shows us how here. Let us follow his example.

 

 

Amen and Amen.

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