How To Pray In A Depraved Nation And Declined Church (Daniel 9)

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Have you ever faced a life defining moment, that if you had confidence and took a risk you would likely move toward greater life success?

  • A job start/quit
  • A relationship
  • A purchase
  • A habit/discipline/commitment

 

The book of Daniel teaches us about defining life moments.

Ancient Israel & Modern Church in decline.

  • God’s people are enslaved. Assyria had conquered the North and Babylon invasions in Judah (Dan 9:1). The same can be said today spiritually. Many associated or attached to the church are not different from the behaviors of Babylon. Instead of living as exiles and sojourners, Christians have conformed to their captors of godless powers and priorities.
  • God’s people are spiritually stagnant. Daniel is the rarity as he reads Scripture and prays repentance for his people (Dan 9:2-5). Israel has shamed itself in its faith and fervor (Dan 9:7-8). Today, the church is not vigilant, drifting in spiritual devotion and duty. Personal and communal prayer is unsatisfying. Corporate worship is frequently unattended, and sharing the gospel is virtually unobserved.

Why We Pray - 2018

EXAMINE           4 ways to pray when God’s people are declining in Babylon

Book of Daniel was about how to survive and thrive in Babylon.[1]

First year of Darius (cf. Dan 5:30), opens Daniel 9, which takes place in 536BC, before Daniel 6 (lions den); Daniel’s about 70 years old whereas the opening of the book he starts as a young man – perhaps teen years. Daniel 6 shows his faithfulness to pray with Daniel 9 an example of what and how he prayed.

 

Pray with a correlation to God’s revelation.

Daniel 9:2 “I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.”

Daniel prayed while reading the Scriptures. Daniel was reading the prophet Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10 and realizes that the prophesied 70 years of exile is almost complete (605-535BC). So, Daniel prays and as he prays for God’s face to shine upon the sanctuary (9:17), one year later the Temple construction will begin in 535BC.

  • Daniel likely inspired to read scrolls bc of listening to Jeremiah preaching. Listening to sermons is not futile, but it’s faith building.
  • Daniel believed in the literal fulfillment of God’s prophecy.
  • Prophetic odds multiply as prophecies are added from the prophets, but that doesn’t deter God because He is faithful promise keeper. All God’s prophecies came true in Israel’s history, the gospel, and most certainly are pending pledges to occur in the return of Jesus. And if God can handle all the details of prophecies, then He can take care of the circumstances in your life.
    • History is His Story
    • Daniel Book – hundreds of prophecies in 12 chapters, most true yet pending 2nd Coming of Jesus.
    • OT Prophets inspire and motivate
  • When prayer life gets rote to repeat same prayers, then put the Word in your prayers.
    • Daniel didn’t have leather bound bible or digital download, but stretched out scrolls.
  • God is attentive to anything that aligns to His will and word (John 16:23; 1John 5:14-15).

Pray with a chase for God’s face.

Daniel 9:3 “I turned my face to the Lord God seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes”

Daniel turned his face toward God’s face, believing that intimacy with God is the key to revival. Seeking God’s face reflects spiritual hunger and humility. One cannot approach the face of God apart from the grace of God. God is unapproachable light (1Tim 6:16) and He hides His face from sin (cf. Deut 32:20; Job 34:29; Ps 13:1; 30:7; 143:7; Is 54:8; Jer 33:5; Ez 39:23-24; Micah 3:4; 1Pet 3:12). Yet, the grace of God invites us to face time with God (Num 6:24-26; Ps 27:8; 105:14).

2Chron 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

 

Illus1: FaceBook and FaceTime are technology seeking to connect faces but falls short of personal interaction. The original facebook is God’s Word, helping us to encounter the face of the living God.[2]

Illus2: Studies show infants need facial interaction with their mother or their growth is stunted. Likewise, we need the life-giving encounter with our Creator’s face.[3] We need God’s face to look upon us, declare us loved as His own, and surround us with His provision.

Illus3: As a parent teaches a child to make eye contact when talking, so are we to turn our face to God’s face in learning to pray.

 

  • When we chase the face of God we pray with focus and faith.
    • In OT ritual, focused prayer included fasting, sackcloth and ashes. Wearing sackcloth was uncomfortable and was a constant reminder to the person they were not to get comfortable and become distracted or even fall asleep. Ashes was a symbol of sorrow, perhaps even mourning death; these were outward symbols reflecting one’s inward condition of humility. And of course, fasting reflected serious devotion. Together, Daniel’s prayer is understood to have focused sincerity with God.
      • You may not wear sackcloth or ashes, but you can… kneel or bow / raise hands / altar prayer / pray in community. ,/
      • Fasting: abstaining from activity to replace attention to God.
        • Food / Entertainment / etc.
        • à SPBC fast together Oct 14-21: 1) Your greatest burden 2) Our greatest burden
          – fast for one meal a day (lunch) and/or fast all day Friday.

          • Joel 2:12 “Return to Me with all your heart, with fasting”
          • Jesus assumed disciples would fast (Matt 6:16)

 

  • Faith is believing God exists and rewards those who seek Him (Heb 11:6).

 

  • Why do we seem to pray with greater intensity in dark times? What if we prayed with greater intensity in times of blessing?

 

Pray with a confession before God’s magnificience.

Daniel 9:4 “I prayed and made confession”

Daniel 9:6-7, 10 “we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments… we have not listened… we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God”

Daniel 9:7-8 “To us belongs open shame [confusion of face]”

 

Daniel’s prayer has a clear view of God’s character.

  • 9:4 great and awesome God
  • 9:4 God who keeps covenant and steadfast love
  • 9:7 Lord who is righteous
  • 9:7 Lord who drives away rebellious (cf. 9:12-14)
  • 9:9 Lord who is mercy and forgiveness (9:19)
  • 9:15 Lord God who rescues with a mighty hand
  • 9:16 Lord of righteous acts
  • 9:17-18 Prayer hearing God

 

In light of knowing God’s character, Daniel prays with humble confession. His confession of sin is specific

  • 9:5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.
  • 9:6 we have not listened to your servants the prophets (cf. 9:10)
  • 9:7 we have open shame because of betrayal against God
  • 9:10 All Israel transgressed God’s law and turned aside, refusing to obey God
  • 9:13 we have not entreated the favor of the Lord or gained insight into God’s truth
  • 9:17-18 desolate sanctuary (worship God) and abandoned care for the city (lacking love for people)

 

  • Faith without continual confession of sin is like owning a car frame without ever having interior engine or aesthetic parts; our faith becomes a hollow shell when we are not doing the heart work of bringing our sin under the forgiving and empowering grace of Jesus Christ. We must never succumb to merely looking the part and not living all of life before the holy presence of God.
  • When we confess our sins we find a grace far deeper than our depravity, and wider than all the wounds caused by our sinful rebellion against God.

 

Pray collectively on behalf and with God’s people.

Daniel 9:19 “O Lord, hear; O Lord forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because of your city and your people are called by your name.”

Daniel’s prayer is a blend of personal and plural pronouns. His prayer of confession links the actions of others with his own – the nation’s with the church and the individual.

9:5 we have sinned

9:6 we have not listened to the prophets who spoke to our kinds… and all the people of the land.

9:7, 11 “to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to all Israel, those who are near & far… belongs shame… All Israel has transgressed…”

 

Israel kept forgetting its history and therefore foiled its future. Entire generations missed movements of God because a prior generation was selfish. Likewise, today we keep cutting down family trees leaving the next generation stumps and no shade. We neglect to learn faith and traditions from our history. Certainly, no generation is perfect and there are some sins that should never be repeated, but one of the main reasons we repeat sin is stubborn isolationism.

 

The Bible presents a pattern for collective confession

  • Leviticus 16 Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
  • Nehemiah 9:3 Return from exile the Israelites made confession and worshiped the Lord
  • Ezra 9-10 corporate reading of Scripture, worship, and confession brought renewal of God’s people.
  • Psalms are intended for communal worship – singing, prayer, and confession.
  • Lamentations 3:40 the entire book of national mourning over sin.
  • Daniel 9 confesses his own sin and on behalf of Israel
  • James 5:6 church is exhorted to confess sin to one another and before God.
  • Revelation 2:5 church of Ephesus is rebuked by Jesus and commanded to confess (remember) their first love.

 

To be clear, we may confess the sins of our nation, community, or others of whom we are apart. Each of us are linked to the community; no person is an island or isolated from the impact on/from others. We can even renounce the actions of our ancestors or others, but we cannot repent of the sins of others. Each person is responsible for their own sin and faith relationship before God.

 

APPLY/THINK

Daniel 9:13 “all this calamity has come upon us [70 years of God’s judgment/exile/missed opportunity]; YET we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth.” [MY EMPHASIS]

 

God allows trials to teach, and if we don’t learn then God will go around us to accomplish His purposes.

  • Let us pray compliantly to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Daniel’s prayer ended a 70 year pattern of being stuck… our prayers make a difference!
  • We can stay in denial or we can devote ourselves in prayer to Jesus, seeking the face of God.

 

Daniel 9:25-27 concerns prophecy of 70 weeks before Israel’s transgression is finished, iniquity atoned, everlasting righteousness is brought and to anoint the most holy place (cf. Hebrews 9:11-15). This is prophecy concerning Israel’s Messiah.

 

Literally it is “seventy sevens”, a literal 490 years. It starts with Artaxerxes decree 457BC for more Israelites to return with Ezra to Jerusalem and beautify the Temple. 490 years later is 33AD, the most likely date of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. After 70 weeks, the anointed one shall be cut off and have nothing [[4]literally “but not for himself”; it is a vicarious death – for us!]. This is further prophecy of the cross.

 

God’s prophecies are firm.

God’s plan is moving forward.

—> Will you be a part of few on the narrow path or the many on the broad path?

 

 

 

 

[1] See a previous sermon series in 2015 https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2015/07/04/surviving-and-thriving-in-babylon-daniel-1/

[2] Thought from Daniel Henderson, Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God’s Face, p.51.

[3] Ibid. 52.

[4] Peter Gentry, Daniel’s 70 Weeks and the New Exodus, Southern Seminary Theological Journal. Accessed: http://www.sbts.edu/resources/files/2010/05/sbjt_v14_n1_gentry.pdf

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