Summary: Exposition of the first three verses of Daniel 9 about his approach to prayer
Text: Daniel 9:1-3, Title: Intense Prayer 101 (Pink Elephants), Date/Place: NRBC, 4/18/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: tell about a pastor’s email for prayer, “You know how sometimes you ask someone to pray and they say they will, but never really do? If you are one of the ones on this list I know that you will NOT be like those…” “No man is greater than his prayer life…Poverty–stricken as the church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of PRAYER. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few PRAYERS, many singers, few clingers; many pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere. The ministry of preaching is open to few, the ministry of PRAYER- the highest ministry of all human offices is open to all." -Ravenhill
B. Background to passage: There are about 12 years that separate ch. 9 from ch. 8. However Daniel puts them side by side for a theological point: the distress caused by the knowledge of the coming suffering (remind of the content of Daniel 9), combined with the study of God’s word, produce an urgency of serious, intense, earnest prayer. And this resulted in deliverance. If we are to see any revival in our nation, growth in our church, power in our lives, victory over sin, advance of the kingdom, hearts of the children turned toward their parents, the gospel taken to the nations, missionaries called from the church, lost people saved, etc, we must turn ourselves to intense prayer. In Acts we saw the shaking of the walls and the opening of prison doors by prayer, and the turning upside down of the world.
C. Main thought: We have some of the greatest opportunity to do and see all these things, but our true laborers in prayer are few. Now is a critical time in our church, in our world, and we can no longer afford to be casual in our efforts in prayer. Daniel’s prayer is an encouragement, a challenge, and a model for us of intensity in our prayer. Today we will look at the genesis and the preparatory actions to this prayer.
A. Intense Information (v. 2)
1. Surely Daniel was in systematic and regular reading of the Hebrew Scriptures that had been gathered to this point (which by the way must have been pretty up to date, since Jeremiah had been taken into captivity along with Daniel). But the word used here is to “discern.” Daniel was doing study of the bible, not devotional reading. Daniel wanted to know and understand God, not just simply check off his “good Christian” list. Daniel knew that his mind needed to be renewed. The passages Daniel is referring to are from chs. 25 and 29 of Jer. Both of them predicting the captivity, repentance, deliverance of Israel in a 70 year time frame.
2. Rom 7:23, 8:7, 12:2, 1 Cor 2:14, 1 Pet 1:13, 4:1,
3. Illustration:, Piper about reading the Word.
4. When was the last good bible study that you did? When was the last time you sat down and hashed out a passage or topic from the scriptures? In order to pray with understanding and knowledge we must get into the word. Those of you in it, but allow it to guide your thoughts and prayers. We must realize the corruption of our mind from remnant sin, and from the world. Sin enslaves and taints everything that we do. “There is enough sin in my best prayers to damn the whole world.” –Bunyan. If you are here, and lost, know that your sin separates you from God, and God must punish it. Before anyone can be saved, and before anyone can pray, you must know and acknowledge that you are a sinner with a depraved mind, and desperately need transformation. The influence of the world upon us in subtle, but corrupting. It causes us to think differently in non-biblical fashions. Entertainment, advertisements, material things, social structures, education, finances, medicines, etc. It influences our attitudes and conditions us even to listen less. Therefore, if you want to know Christ, and intensify your desire to pray, study and understand the Word of God. Our thoughts and worldview should be conditioned by the Word. Also note that Daniel understood that God had said that something would happen, so why pray? In light of the theme of Daniel, we need a lesson in practical theology, Daniel understands that God ordains the ends and the means. Seeing the promises of God compels us to pray rather than the opposite.
B. Intense Introspection (v. 3)
1. This may be the most important part of Daniel’s preparation. He says that he sets his face toward the Lord. Some translations are: turned my face, turned my attention, gave my attention to God. The word means literally to give one’s face. It means that Daniel made an attempt here to orient his soul Godward. He was trying to discern the true desires of his own heart, and turn his entire being toward God. Maybe he was concerned about deliverance, or lack of it. Maybe about the coming suffering; for as a man, he surely had his fears and impure motives (even though Daniel is one of the few bible people that we have lots of info on, but nothing about his failures). As he faced God, he had the Isaiah experience, realizing his uncleanness. He began to search his heart and soul to see if there were any desires that were not of God. He desired to enter and have the Lord’s presence. He wanted to be heard; therefore he wanted into the throne room, the face of God.