Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Daniel Prayer - Session 7 - Pleading With Clarity

The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book The Daniel Prayer:  Prayer That Moves Heaven And Changes Nations By Anne Graham-Lotz.  

James 5:16 (NLT2) 16  Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 

The Daniel Prayer is born deep within your soul, erupts through your heart, and pours out on your lips, words created by and infused with the Spirit of God quivering with spiritual electricity. It’s really not an everyday type of prayer. It’s a prayer birthed under pressure. Heartache. Grief. Desperation. It can be triggered by a sudden revelation of hope. An answer to prayer, a promise freshly received, a miracle that lies just over the horizon.

Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book in the study notes. 

Romans 8:26-27 ERV Also, the Spirit helps us. We are very weak, but the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself speaks to God for us. He begs God for us, speaking to him with feelings too deep for words. God already knows our deepest thoughts. And he understands what the Spirit is saying, because the Spirit speaks for his people in the way that agrees with what God wants.

Romans 8:26-28 MSG Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

We don’t have to know specifically how or what to pray in order to submit to our Father’s guiding whisper. Sometimes I believe we’re intimidated to pray beyond the limits of what we can imagine or understand. But God knows what’s ahead and how He wants to answer and use us.

It’s encouraging to be reassured that I don’t have to know everything, understand everything, analyze everything before I pray for something. In our previous studies we’ve talked about prayer energizing us to act, but that doesn't mean we act in our own power. 

We don’t have to know everything, understand everything, analyze everything before I pray for something. We don’t have to have a clear comprehension of what the need is or what the solution should be. We don’t have to tell God how to “fix” things or even suggest what His course of action might be. We don’t have to solve the problem for Him. What a relief it is to know all we have to do is to get down on our knees and state the problem. The burden to resolve the situation is His, not yours and mine.


But before he gives his model for prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus provides important context:
 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matt. 6:5–8)
 Matthew 6:1 is the key to understanding this passage.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Matthew 6:1 NIV

Here Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” The first and most urgent warning Jesus gives is a warning against a quality of religion or reverence that is public and ostentatious that offers nothing that is stimulating or challenging and is false. This type of reverence  draws attention to the one praying, because it's designed to reveal them super religious.

The way we pray will reveal either the superficial, insincere nature of our faith or the glory of God.  Jesus is clear that those who wish to be seen as super spiritual have already received their reward.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
Matthew 6:5 NIV

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:12 NIV

We can pursue the glory of the Father by humbling ourselves in secret, or we can pursue our own glory by exalting ourselves before others. We can’t do both.
We want to make sure that we don't fall into the trap of thinking we have to impress others when we pray.

As David what the Lord really wants is a broken and contrite heart.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Psalm 51:16-17 NIV

In other words a prayer that is offered in humility.

Too often when we pray, we seem to forget God already knows the details of our requests and how to respond in His infinite wisdom.

God is God! He can do anything and He knows everything. All you and I need to do is lay our burdens at His feet. Place them in His capable hands.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV


Daniel's pleading seems to become more intense as he prays.

Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.  “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
Daniel 9:16-19 NIV

In his intensity of Daniel based his prayer on God’s promises throughout history.  Not just Jeremiah's prophecy.

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good 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 on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Jeremiah 29:10-14 NIV

Including the promises mentioned by Solomon when he dedicated the temple.

When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, the Lord appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.  “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
2 Chronicles 7:11-16 NIV
Here is Anne’s paraphrase of Daniel 9:16-19.

O God, in keeping with Your own righteous acts, hear my prayer when I cry to You. You said Your eyes would be open to prayers that are offered in the temple in Jerusalem. But, O God, there is no Jerusalem and there is no temple there. You have poured out Your wrath on Your city. On Your holy hill. “You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem” (9:12).
Look on the burned-out buildings, the piles of rubble, the broken-down walls, the place where You said You would place Your Name. How can I pray from there? I can only pray from here. But I hold You to Your Word, O Lord God. You said Your Name would be on Jerusalem forever. You have said Your eyes would be on her and Your heart would be there. So, O God, open Your eyes and look on Your city! Look on Jerusalem. O God, open Your ears and listen! Hear my cry. Be attentive to my prayer. Forgive us! Release us! Restoreus! Revive us!

The Daniel Prayer does not teach us to pray for what we want God to do for us or for our family or for our church or for our nation for our world. The Daniel Prayer teaches you and me to pray until we enter into the very heart of the Father and discover what it is He wants to do for us or what He wants to give us. We discover His “wants” through the promises in His Word which the Holy Spirit will impress on our hearts.

As the intensity of our prayer increases our perspective changes from the temporary to the eternal. From our perspective to God's perspective.

We need to pray until we can unload all we are thinking and all we want in order to get down to what God is thinking and what He wants. Then we ask Him for what we know He wants to give us.


In prayer which, as we know should be a conversation with God, we can. if we listen, can discover what it is that God really wants for us.   The example that Anne gives is that, although Abraham may have been concerned about others in Sodom his main concern was for his nephew Lot.  That may be why in his negotiation with God he kept reducing the number of righteous that God would accept and not destroy the city. 

 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.  For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”  Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”  The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord .  Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”  The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”  Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”  Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”  Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”  Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”  Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”  When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
Genesis 18:16-33 NIV

Well there weren't even 10 but God did answer Abraham's prayer and spare Lot. 

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”  When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord . He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.  So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
Genesis 19:15-16, 27-29 NIV

When we get to the place that we can begin to discover God’s perspective then we become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit's direction.  


Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth, bringing to their minds the things they needed to remember.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:26 NIV

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
John 16:12-13 NIV

One application of what Jesus promised was that as we pray, God the Holy Spirit would bring to our minds the Scripture on which we need to base our prayers.  The Holy Spirit can’t bring to our remembrance things we have never known. Which is one reason it’s so important to read and saturate ourselves in Scripture so that it's available for the Holy Spirit to pull up from the recesses of our memories as we pray.

Take your Bible into your place of prayer. As you read it, open your heart and mind to His still, small voice that will whisper in your “ear” and give direction to your thoughts and words. In prayer, be sensitive to Him.


So far we've talked about preparing for prayer where we commit ourselves to prayer; we become compelled to pray; we set our focus on God as we begin our plea; we plead with confidence, with confession last week and now with clarity this week, all leading up to the reason for a specific prayer in the case of Daniel for Judah to be returned from exile, and for us our nation or any pressing desire or need.  In other words the bottom line.  For Daniel it was;

Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
Daniel 9:19 NIV
Regardless of whether or not Daniel had humbled himself enough . . .
Regardless of whether or not Daniel had fasted long enough . . .
Regardless of whether or not Daniel’s confession had been thorough enough . .

Regardless of whether or not Daniel had claimed Scripture enough . . .
Bottom line, Daniel’s priority in prayer was that God’s Name be cleared. Exalted. Glorified.

Daniel longed for the nations of the world to recognize that Israel’s God is God. He longed for the world to acknowledge that his God is indeed faithful and gracious and good and great.

After we worship God, confess our sins, center our focus on God and His will we need to get to the point, which is that in the answer to our prayer God is glorified.

Even if our priorities are;

Relief from pain?

Reconciliation of a relationship?
 Restoration of health?
 Resolution of financial issues?
Recognition of your profile?
Reinstatement to your job?
Removal of an enemy?
Repression of gossip?
Rescue from trouble?
Reward for well-doing?

As we see all the injustice, hate, greed, and  unrighteousness going on in this country and world, until Jesus comes we can pray that as was Daniel's priority;
God’s Name be cleared. Exalted. Glorified, so that the world acknowledges that God is indeed faithful and gracious and good and great.

We can long for and pray:

for truth to triumph over lies, for love to triumph over hate,
for peace to triumph over war, for right to triumph over wrong,

for good to triumph over evil . . .
for the world, at long last, to be ruled rightly with justice and mercy and truth and love and peace.
for every eye to see, and for every knee to bow, and for every tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is . . .
The Prince of Peace,
the Son of God,
 the Son of Man,
the Messiah of Israel,
the Creator who became our Savior,
the Lord of lords and the King of kings . . .
to the glory of God the Father!

for the world to see Jesus as He truly is.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 NIV

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