Summary: This morning we’re going to focus on how to pray with humility. Most of us are much better at excusing our sins and failures than we are at confessing them. We’re quick to point out other peoples’ mistakes, but we have a hard time admitting when we’ve b
How to Pray with Humility
This morning we’re going to focus on how to pray with humility. Most of us are much better at excusing our sins and failures than we are at confessing them. We’re quick to point out other peoples’ mistakes, but we have a hard time admitting when we’ve blown it. Here are some actual excerpts from insurance companies where individuals who had accidents explained what went wrong.
• Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree that I don’t own.
• The other guy was all over the road and I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.
• I had been driving my car for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.
• The telephone pole approached my car at a rapid speed, as I swerved to get out of its way, it hit me.
• I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and drove over the embankment.
According to the results of our Spiritual Needs Survey, that was distributed in March, 70% of people at PBC pray more than 5 times a week. That’s pretty good, but it could be better. As we begin this morning, let me ask you a very personal question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your prayer life?
John Owen, a Puritan writer, has said: “What an individual is in secret on his knees before God, that’s who he really is, and no more.”
Let’s take a look at 6 significant truths about effective praying from the Old Testament prophet Daniel.
1. Pray Biblically (vs. 1-2)
Notice verses 1-2: “In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes, who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom 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.”
I picture Daniel reading and studying his copy of the Scriptures. He was an old man, approaching 90 years of age. He had been sent to Babylon almost 70 years earlier and had proven himself as the prime minister under 3 successive kings. Here’s what he was reading from Jeremiah 29:10-12: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
We know that Daniel and others had been taken captive in 605 B.C. and that it was now 538 B.C. and so Daniel has been in captivity for 67 years. He recognizes that his people are only 3 years away from returning to Jerusalem. He also realizes that they are not spiritually prepared, so he is driven to his knees in prayer, simply from reading and understanding the Word of God.
Although things looked humanly hopeless and it appeared impossible that the exile would end soon, Jeremiah now had a firm word from the Lord. Are you facing anything that looks hopeless right now? If so, stand on the promises of the Word of God and pray like Daniel did.
I think there was probably a step between his reading of the prophet Jeremiah and Daniel’s prayer. I picture Daniel reading the Scriptures and then spending some time meditating upon what he had just read. He rolled these truths over in his mind. Then he prayed. Meditation is often the missing link between Bible intake and prayer.
There’s good application for us here. We should start by reading a passage of Scripture and then meditate on it, allowing time to take what God has said to us by thinking about it and digesting it. It may even be helpful to write it down. Then, after we’ve read and meditated, we can move into prayer. The focus of our prayer should be what we’ve encountered in the Bible, now personalized through meditation. John Bates has said this: “The great reason why our prayers are ineffectual, is because we do not meditate before them.”
And so, we begin with reading the Word. We then move to meditation and then end in prayer. I think it’s better to read a chapter or a short passage and meditate on it than it is to read several chapters and not think about them at all.
Even though God announces what He is going to do in Jeremiah 29, He also indicates very clearly that He will bring it about through prayer. As His people pray, He will accomplish what He is going to do. Prayer is so important that God will often delay what He says He will do until we start responding in prayer. Prayer is not a way to get God to work for us it’s His way of involving us in what He intends to do.