Study 8 A CHAPTER TO SEND US TO OUR KNEES
STUDIES IN THE LIFE OF DANIEL
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Daniel 9:1-19; 10:1-21)
We have seen that Daniel was a man of prayer and that he spent much of his life in exile, during which he was associated with three kings and many prominent people. We have also seen that during severe testings he remained faithful to his Lord. Can a man be a Christian “in business…in politics…in college?” Yes – but what was the secret of his loyalty and devotion? It is found in his prayer-life. We read of his prayer for illumination and interpretation (Daniel 2:17-18); of his prayer in defiance of the king’s decree (6:10-15); of his prayer of confession and humiliation (chapter 9); of the spiritual results of his praying (chapter 10); and in 12:8-13 we find the last of his recorded prayers. Let us study chapters 9:1-19; 10:1-21.
1. DANIEL’S PRAYER FOUND ITS INSPIRATION IN HIS STUDY OF THE PROPHETIC WORD
True prayer always begins with the operation of the Holy Spirit in the heart (Romans 8:26; James 5:16). But on the human level, the inspiration of prayer may come through the recognition of some urgent need, or through the request of someone who says, “Please pray…” What started Daniel praying? Verses 1 and 2 tell us that he was poring over Jeremiah’s prophecy when he came to Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10; he discovered that Israel’s captivity in Babylon would last 70 years, after which the Jews would be free to return to their homeland, and as 68 years had now passed, only two years remained. When he discovered this he put on sackcloth and gave himself to prayer. Prayer is co-operating with God for the fulfilment of His will. When we pray we do not alter God’s mind; we discover what His purpose is and we enter into it by prayer, and that prayer becomes the channel through which the Lord fulfils His purpose.
2. DANIEL’S PRAYER REVEALS A TRUE BIBLICAL CONCEPTION OF GOD
In this prayer we have a revelation of what God is like. We discover that He is:
- A great and awesome God – verse 4, and compare 1 Chronicles 29:11-13.
- A faithful God – verse 4, and compare Deuteronomy 7:9.
- A righteous and just God – verse 7, and compare Genesis 18:25.
- A merciful and forgiving God – verse 9, and compare Psalm 130:4.
- A God of judgment – verses 11 and 14, and compare Hebrews 10:31.
- A mighty God – verse 15, and compare Jeremiah 32:21.
- A God who hears and answers prayer – verses 6-19, and compare Luke 11:9-13.
This revelation God gave to Daniel is the biblical conception; it is not simply Daniel’s idea – it is Daniel’s, Jeremiah’s, Paul’s and that revealed by Jesus Himself, who said – John 14:9.
3. DANIEL’S PRAYER BETRAYS AN OVERWHELMING BURDEN OF DESIRE
Verse 3 indicates this, and it challenges us when some of our prayers are so cold and half-hearted. Notice the determination, the preparation and the resolution included in his praying; read verses 4,7,8,15-19, and notice that he moves from the petition, O Lord to the petition, “O Lord…our God…”, and finally to, “O…my God…” We are often so casual in our praying, and our prayers lack any sense of burden.
4. DANIEL’S PRAYER CONTAINS A DEEP AWARENESS OF SHAME AND A CONFESSION OF SIN
See how completely he identified himself with his brethren (verses 4-6,8,10,11,14); he did not cry, “They…have sinned…”; he said, “We…have sinned…” Arthur Wallis says, “An important feature in the work of intercession is that of identifying oneself not only with the need but also with the sin of those for whom intercession is made”. Moses did this (Exodus 32:31-32); and so did Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:6-7). In his penitential prayer Daniel described the sins of God’s people (verses 5,6,13). We need to be sensitive to the sins that abound in the church and in the world, and in humiliation we should confess these before our God.
5. DANIEL’S PRAYER IS CHARACTERISED BY DEFINITE URGENT PETITIONS
There was nothing vague about his praying (verses 16-19); he prayed for the Lord’s blessing to rest upon the Holy City and upon His people. How should we pray for the church and for the world? Here are some suggestions:
Prayer for the church:
- for a deep cleansing work of the Holy Spirit.
- for a return to faith in the authority and inspiration of the Bible.
- for direct, clear gospel preaching, resulting in repentance and renewal.
- for holiness of life in the members.
Prayer for the world:
- for men to be raised up to call the nation back to God.
- for those in high places to be converted.
- for the rising tide of iniquity to be stemmed.
- For repentance and faith to be given to many.
6. DANIEL’S PRAYER INDICATES THE TRUE MOTIVE OF PRAYER
He asked that the Lord would bless His people and bless His Holy City “for your sake” (verses 17,19). His motive was the glory of God – look up James 4:3.
7. DANIEL’S PRAYER ILLUSTRATES THE RESULT OF TRUE PRAYER
Turn to chapter 10:1-21. What happens when we pray?
- Immediately we pray our prayer is heard (verse 12). When we come before God in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, at once we have an audience in heaven. Although three weeks had passed since Daniel had made his request, this was actually heard the moment he made it. Immediately we ask, God hears – look up Jeremiah 33:3.
- Immediately we pray we set in motion a spiritual conflict. The Devil does not want our prayers to be answered, and this is the meaning of verse 13. Daniel’s prayer was answered three weeks earlier, but spiritual agencies in heaven prevented the answer from getting through – see Ephesians 6:12. When we pray, the forces of evil are aroused. This explains why the answers to some prayers are delayed.
- Immediately we pray, fear is banished and strength is imparted. Look at verses 12,18,19, and compare Isaiah 40:31.
Surely this is a chapter to send us to our knees!