Restoration & Praise
Christian Fellowship Center
A PRAYER FOR OBEDIENT FAITH
Devotional Reading: Psalm 130
Background Scripture: Daniel 9:1-19
LESSON SCRIPTURES: Daniel 9:4-8, 15-19
Exerted from: Standard Lesson Commentary KJV (2017-2018).
Daniel 9:4-8, 15-19
4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
19 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.
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Summarize the content of Daniel’s prayer in today’s text.
2. Explain how this prayer can serve as a model for Christians today.
3. Write out a prayer of confession and repentance based on Daniel’s prayer and use it each day this week. (Report on its impact at the next gathering of the group.)
When Direction is Needed
We all go through crossroads moments—times we know that life will change because of decisions we have made or are making. Here are common bits of advice for those at crossroads moments.
To newlyweds: Never go to bed angry.
To parents of a newborn: Live to be the kind of person you will want your child to marry.
To first-time homeowners: Don’t ignore home maintenance.
To new drivers: The car you drive can be one of the deadliest machines ever invented.
To the teen leaving for college: Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.
These words of advice may seem trite, but they are important. At certain points of our lives, we must know who we are, what we have got ourselves into, and where to turn for help. We know what it is like to reach a crossroads moment. When such a moment comes, we know that life may change dramatically. Daniel’s decision at a crossroads moment has much to teach us.
After the incident of the fiery furnace (last week’s lesson), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego no longer appear in the book of Daniel. The spotlight turns on Daniel himself to demonstrate unwavering faith and godly courage in pagan surroundings.
Much happens in the book of Daniel between last week’s lesson from chapter 3 and this week’s lesson from chapter 9. In Daniel 4, the book’s namesake interpreted a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar, one with an ominous, alarming message of coming judgment on that ruler. In chapter 5, Daniel interpreted the famous “handwriting on the wall” for the terrified King Belshazzar. That message too was one of pending doom; indeed, Daniel’s words came to pass that very night (5:30, 31).
Chapter 6 is the well-known account of Daniel in the lions’ den. Daniel 7-12 records a series of dreams and visions granted to Daniel about things to come. Daniel’s prayer of chapter 9, located among these, is the subject of this lesson.
Daniel offered the prayer of today’s text “in the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus” (Daniel 9:1; compare 5:31; 11:1). That was about 538 BC. Since Daniel was taken to Babylon in 605 BC (1:1), this means that he has been on foreign soil for nearly 70 years. He has become an old man.
While Daniel 9:1 tells us of the earthly ruler in power at the time, the verse that follows affirms that the heavenly ruler, the Lord, remains very much in control. That verse also records Daniel’s recognition that Jerusalem’s desolation was to last 70 years, according to Jeremiah 29:10. This means the captivity of Daniel’s people is nearing its end.
This awareness stirs the elderly man of God to offer the profound prayer of our lesson. The heartfelt sincerity of the prayer is seen in Daniel 9:3 with the mention of Daniel’s fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
In Daniel 9:9-14 (not in today’s lesson text), Daniel continues to call attention to the wide chasm that exists between God’s faithfulness and the people’s rebellion. God has not pulled any surprises on the people in bringing judgment. To the contrary, He warned them through the Law of Moses (9:13) and later through the prophets (9:10). But the people disobeyed anyway (9:14).
One wonders what Daniel’s posture is as he utters this intense prayer. The Scripture does not tell us. It is not hard to picture the aged saint falling to his creaking knees as he pleads with the Lord on behalf of himself and his countrymen in captivity. As his prayer reaches the especially earnest conclusion in the verse before us, perhaps Daniel falls prostrate to acknowledge total submission to the Lord and complete dependence upon Him to answer the prayer.
Within the next year or so after Daniel offers this prayer (based on the date given in Daniel 9:1), the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great issued his decree allowing the Jews who desired to do so to return home (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23). We do not read of Daniel returning to his homeland; most likely both his age and his administrative responsibilities precluded him from doing so.
However, given the date cited in Daniel 10:1 (the third year of Cyrus, which would be 536 BC), Daniel lives to see the Lord answer the prayer and keep His word regarding the 70 years. We do not read of any prayer Daniel offers when the return of the captives happens, but we can be certain that he praises the Lord—with a prayer that is just as sincere and passionate as the one we have studied today.
Priorities in Prayer
Daniel’s prayer should prompt us to ask ourselves, “Do we pray like that today? Are our prayers that earnest, that sensitive to the sin and wrongdoing in our lives and to our dependence on the mercy of God?” We may be very keenly aware of the perversion in our culture, but Daniel’s prayer says absolutely nothing about what is going on in Persian society. His focus is on his people’s desperate need for the forgiveness that God alone can provide. But note carefully that Daniel spends much more time acknowledging than asking. Do we pray that way?
Much insight can also be gained by examining the prayer life of Paul. We are not given in Scripture the specific contents of his prayers, but we can sense what his priorities in prayer were by reading the references to prayer. As we do, we find a heavy emphasis on spiritual matters, very similar to the matters that comprised the prayer of Daniel. There was a fervent desire for the recipients of a given epistle to grow in their knowledge of Jesus and to be more aware of the spiritual blessings that accompany that knowledge.
Illustrations of this may be seen in Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-14; and 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 12. There is really very little in these Scriptures about physical or material concerns, which usually make up the primary topic of prayer times or prayer lists in most churches.
This is not to say that praying for physical or material needs should not be encouraged (see James 5:14, 15). Certainly God cares about every aspect of our lives (compare Philippians 4:6). But if we are honest, we must admit our clear shortcomings in failing to address on a consistent basis the kinds of issues that formed the very core of passionate pray-ers like Daniel and Paul.
We have noted that Daniel was moved to prayer by reading and understanding the Word of God that had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2). May reading the Scriptures today, specifically a prayer such as Daniel’s, stir us to reexamine and revitalize our own priorities in prayer
Father, when we read a prayer such as Daniel’s, we recognize how our own prayer priorities are so mixed up. Help us remember that we are students continually enrolled in the school of prayer. Teach us to pray with the passion and priorities of Daniel! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thought to Remember
Take the first steps of important journeys on your knees.
Standard Lesson Commentary KJV (2017-2018).