Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 26 November 20:
Today’s reading from Daniel have much to say about the importance of prayer, the heart of prayer, and the power of prayer:
Daniel 9:1-3 – “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.”
Prayer is guided by God’s word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Just as children learn to talk by listening to their parents and repeating what they hear, we learn to pray by praying through God’s word. Daniel went to God’s word to understand history, the current situation, and what would happen in the future. Do you?
Daniel 9:3 – “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” Reading God’s word drove Daniel to impassioned prayer.
Daniel’s response to the truth of God’s word was mourning, confession, and repentance. The more you appreciate the Holiness of God, the more you understand and appreciate your need for His mercy and grace and the more you earnestly desire to live in obedience to Him. (Daniel 9:3-19)
Daniel 9:5-11 – “We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame…. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you…. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice.”
Daniel didn’t simply lament the condition of his people or blame others, nor did he assume the current situation was hopeless; he took personal responsibility and went to the Lord in prayer. Daniel interceded for his people who had suffered great calamity because they refused to listen to God’s word, obey God’s commands, and walk in the ways of God. God’s word revealed God’s holiness, God’s commands, the guiltiness of the people and nation, God’s righteous condemnation of sinners, and the people’s utter dependence on God’s mercy and grace. Daniel exemplifies the proper response of a faithful servant of God who is also a member of a sinful nation – repentance, deep intercessory prayer, personal counter-culture faithfulness, and a willingness to proclaim God’s truth to everyone, even to kings, even at the risk of his life, whether anyone would listen or not.
Daniel 9:18 – “For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.”
Everything we do rests on God’s continual mercy and grace, and we can humbly yet confidently present our requests to God because of His love, mercy and grace. Prayer is grounded on humility, wholly dependent on God’s providence and focused on bringing glory to God. Prayer rests on the truth of the Gospel and glorifies God alone. Prayer rejects self-righteousness or self-sufficiency and acknowledges out utter dependency on God with the confidence of knowing that He is Almighty, Sovereign, Holy, Righteous, and loves us perfectly as His precious children through Christ.
- Psalm 20:7 — Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Daniel 9:21 – “…while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.” Vision came to Daniel during his time of worship and prayer. If you want to hear from God, you must communicate, primarily listening. Prayer is not a monologue; it is a dialogue. Prayer is focused on God’s will, not ours.
Daniel 9:23 – “At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision.”
In this case, Daniel’s prayer was answered immediately. Daniel’s prayers were answered because he was greatly loved – so are you. Daniel’s genuine love relationship with God was initiated and enabled by God as is yours — “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) God’s love inspired Daniel to worship Him, pray earnestly, and live a holy, powerful life for God’s glory. Daniel was truly wholehearted, and his deeds were the fruit of love, not acts of self-righteousness or even duty. How has God inspired you to live?
Daniel 10:1 – “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.”
Daniel’s next recorded vision is two years later. How long will you prayerfully wait and remain obedient before you hear a clear word from God? Many Christians, in their impatience, try to invent words from God in order answer their doubts and make decisions led by presumption and emotion rather than God’s direction. Be still and know that God is God. Wait upon Him.
Daniel 10:3 – “I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.”
How serious are you about following Jesus? How desperately do you want to know His word? Daniel had been in mournful prayer and fasting for twenty-four days (presumably a regular practice for him) before God gave him a vision. Doubtful he would have done this if he were clamoring for political position in the king’s palace, something he had the opportunity to do, or relying on his own strength to solve the problems of his people. Do you believe prayer is more powerful than politics, positions, or protests?
Though he was surrounded by people, Daniel was alone in his vision, and his personal strengths and abilities were meaningless. Nothing that was about to happen was contrived by him or his intellect. The servant of God will likely stand alone and can only transmit (not craft) God’s word.
Daniel 10:12 — “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.” Daniel’s prayer was heard by God immediately, though Daniel didn’t know it. Daniel was heard because he “set [his] heart to understand and humbled [himself].”
Daniel 10:15 – “When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute.” God’s word will leave you speechless, and when God speaks, you will have no doubt it was Him who spoke.
- John 10:27 -- My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Daniel 10:20 – “But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia.” There is a real spiritual battle occurring which we cannot perceive unless it is revealed to us by the Spirit and which can only be fought through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit working through us. Through prayer, the supernatural guiding of the Holy Spirit, and our wholehearted obedience to God’s word, God will do what we can’t do so we can clearly see that the victory is His and not ours and so He gets all the glory. God does not need us to win the fight for Him, but He allows us to participate so we can know Him and be one with Him. (John 17:3)
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 -- For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…. - Colossians 4:2 - Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 26 November 20: Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)