Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

4-4-05

Title: Daniel; A Man of Prayer

 

 

Text: "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."—Daniel 9:19.

 

Bible Reading: Daniel Chapter 9

 

 

DANIEL was a man who held a high government position in the kingdom of Babylon.

 

He was taken as a slave from Palestine, but, by the will of God, he had been raised to a high office in Babylon.

 

So, it shouldn’t be surprising if he had forgotten his less fortunate country men.

 

Unfortunately! Some of us might have known those that have even forgotten their poor fellow Christians, because they thought they were too good to worship with their former less fortunate friends and family when they themselves had become better off.

 

But it wasn’t that way with Daniel.

 

Even though he had been made a high official of the empire, he still thought of himself as a Jew.

 

When he saw the misery of his people he felt miserable, and he thought that it would be an honor for him to share in their suffering.

 

However, he couldn’t do that since God had made him important and had blessed him with wealth; therefore, he couldn’t make himself as poor and as hated as they were.

 

But he had to do something, so he prayed for them and pleaded with God to end their misery.

 

This is how Daniel describes what he did, “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”

 

However, Daniel was not only a man with a lot of authority; he was also a man with very high spiritual values.

 

He was thankful and happy because God had blessed him, but he was sorry for those of his people who suffered from the brutality of the Babylonians.

 

 

Folks, it’s discouraging to me that so many Christians believe they are blessed by God, and yet they look down on Christians who are less fortunate than they are.

 

People who think like this are mistaken in the opinion they have of themselves.

 

Daniel showed his sympathy for his poorer and less fortunate countrymen by praying for them.

 

And, he probably showed his sympathy in other ways, but this time he showed it by interceding for them with God.

 

I believe the 9th Chapter of Daniel gives us, first-of-all, a model for prayer; and then secondly, we are encouraged by what it says

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Let’s look first at Daniel’s--MODEL  PRAYER.

 

The first thing I want to say about this prayer of Daniel’s is that it was not made without giving it some thought.

 

He didn’t offer this prayer like some people do, as if it was something that didn’t require any prior thought.

 

We have been taught to prepare before we give a speech.

 

But, we have never been told to prepare before we speak to God.

 

Have you ever thought that it might be a good idea to prepare your heart, before you open your mouth to speak to God?

 

Don’t you think we often begin to pray without giving any kind of consideration to what we are going to say?

 

The result is our loss, since we fail to express ourselves about something—our gratitude, our love, concern for the needs of others, or our needs

 

But, Daniel's preparation started when he read God’s Word.

 

He had with him an old copy of the book of the prophet Jeremiah, and he read it through.

 

Folks, I wish I studied my Bible more than I do!

 

I wish we all did!

 

You may have told a man, when you ask him to do something for you, "You said you would do it."

 

You have him then.

 

And, God is also obligated to keep His word, that is, the promises He made in His Holy Book.

 

So, when we pray, we can mention His promises and that they give us something to look forward to, and then ask Him to fulfill them.

 

If you study God’s Word, your prayers may burst out of your knowledge of scripture, and then you will pray a Daniel like prayer.

 

But, will you notice next, Daniel's prayer was mingled with a great deal of humility.

 

It’s always good for us to express humility when we speak to God in prayer.

 

We always pray our best prayers when we pray out of the depths of our heart.

 

Sometimes, when we reach a low point in our lives, we can pray with more passion as we plead our case to God.

 

It’s sin that takes us down to the low level of sinner.

 

We need to see as much of our sinful condition as God will allow us to see of it.

 

You can’t see too much of Christ, but you just might see too much of your sin, but that’s rarely the case.

 

We need to see both our deep-down needs and our great sins, before we truly recognize what Jesus has done for us.

 

Only after that, can we pour out our self-righteousness; and only then are we able to say from our heart, "It’s not because we are righteous that we pray, but because we have sinned.”

 

But never have the idea that you deserve God’s forgiveness, or that you have earned it by some good deed you have done.

 

You can’t expect anything from God unless you put yourself in the right place, that is, as a beggar at His feet; then He will hear you, but not until then.

 

The next thing that Daniel’s prayer teaches is that “It was energized by enthusiasm for God's glory.”

 

We can sometimes pray with the wrong motives.

 

For instance, if I want to see people saved in my ministry, isn’t that a good motive?

Yes, it is; but suppose I want to see souls saved in order that people will say about me, "He is a great preacher."

 

That is a bad motive, which spoils all my work for Jesus.

 

And, if I am a member of a Bible believing Church, and I pray for its success, isn’t that right?

 

It certainly is; but if I want it to be successful just because I want others to be able to say, "Look at their dedication to the Lord!  See how God blesses them more than others!" that is a wrong motive.

 

The proper motive is this, "That God will be glorified, and that Jesus will see the result of his sufferings!  That sinners will be saved, so that God will have new voices to praise him, and new hearts to love him!  That there will be no more sin, and that the holiness, righteousness, mercy, and power of God will be preached everywhere!"

 

This is the way to pray; when you want to give glory to God.

 

If you are praying for those things that will glorify Him, you can rest assured that your prayers are heard in heaven.

 

Remember, "God's glory"—should be above everything else; first, last, and always it should be the object of our prayers.


Next, I want you to see how intense Daniel's prayer was.

 

He prayed, "O Lord, hear: O Lord, forgive: O Lord, hearken and do, defer not for thine own sake."

 

The repetitions he spoke express intensity.

 

However, when we pray in front of others, we shouldn’t repeat the name, "O Lord, O Lord, O Lord," so often, since God calls that vain repetition.

 

But, when the repetition of His holy name comes from the heart, then it is not vain repetition; then it cannot be repeated too often, and it shouldn’t be subject to criticism like I just did.

 

So, take note of how Daniel seems to pour out his soul with "O Lord, O Lord, O Lord," as if he will call upon God again, and again and a third time, until God hears his request.

 

The Lord may not answer cold prayers, but the persistent prayers of a righteous man will always get an answer back.

 

 

When the child of God cannot take "No" for an answer, he or she will not have "No" for an answer.

 

Friends, if there was only one person here that can pray as Daniel did, with intensity, the blessings will come.

 

That should encourage any sincere man or woman here that worries that others are not as excited about prayer as they should be.

 

Folks, God will send a blessing to many because of the prayer of one.

 

But how much better would it be if all of us here, and the entire Church of God, were stirred up to pray for God’s kingdom.


Another thing we could say about this prayer is, “This remarkable prayer was a prayer of understanding.”

 

Even when some people are sincere, they talk nonsense, and I think I have heard prayers which God might understand, but I am not sure if I did.

 

But here is a prayer we can understand as well as God.

 

It begins thus, "O Lord, hear."

 

He asks if God will hear him.

 

This is how a lawyer does when he presents his case to an earthly judge: he asks to be heard.

 

Daniel begins with that, "O Lord, hear. I am not worthy to be heard: if thou shut me and my case out of hearing, it will be just."

 

He asks an audience: he gets it, and now he goes immediately to his point, "O Lord, forgive."

 

He knows what he wants.

 

Sin was the cause of his trouble, and it’s the cause of all the suffering.

 

Folks, it is great when someone knows what he is praying for.

 

However, many prayers go off at a tangent—the praying person evidently thinks he is doing well by using certain phrases, but the prayer that hits the target in the center is the best prayer to pray.

 

God teach us to pray like Daniel, who prayed, "O Lord, forgive."

 


I want to point out something else; the prayer of Daniel was a prayer that expressed the nearness of God.

 

You catch that thought in the expression, "O my God."

 

Often we pray like God is a long way off: we pray like slaves and like we might be heard, but we’re not sure of it.

 

But when God helps us to pray like we should, we come right into His presence, and we say, "Hear me, O my God."

 

He is God; therefore, we must be respectful.

 

He is my God; therefore I can come close to him.

 

A child of God—when his heart is right—can get very close to God; he can pour out his childlike requests in childlike language before his Heavenly Father.


Now the last thing I will call your attention to in this model prayer is this, that the prophet uses a line of reasoning.

 

Praying should always to be made up of “strong reasoning.”

 

We should press matters with God, and give reasons for our requests—not because He wants reasons, but because He wants us to know why we want what we asked for.

 

In this passage, Daniel has given a reason. 

 

He said, "If thou suffer this people of thine to perish, all the world will revile thy name; thine honour will be stained. This is thine own people, and because they are thy property, suffer not thine own estate to be endamaged, but save Jerusalem for thine own sake."

 

Next, Daniel gives another reason for God to respond positively to his prayer. 

 

He said, "For thy city and thy people"; he says that the people of Israel are not like other people.

 

It is true that they had sinned, but still there was a relationship between them and God that didn’t exist between God and any other people.

 

He brings up the covenant, between Abraham and Abraham's seed and the God of the whole earth.

 

And next he says, "For they are called by thy name."

 

They were called Jehovah's people by the nations around them.

 

Then Daniel prayed, "O God! let not a thing that bears thy name be trundled about like a common thing. Suffer it not to be trailed in the dust; come to the rescue of it. Thy stamp, thy seal is upon Israel. Israel belongs to thee; therefore, come and interpose."

 

Now, from this I gather that if we want to succeed in having our prayers answered, we should provide the Lord with good reasons for it.

 

Often, Jesus gave His listeners reasons to obey Him. 

 

On one occasion He told a crowd, "If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him!"

 

Get a promise from God’s Word, and spread it before the Him, and say, "O Lord, thou hast said it; so please do it."

 

God loves to be believed in.

 

He loves you to think he means what he says.

 

God, Himself is practical.

 

His word has power in it, and he does not like us to treat his promises as some of us do, as if they were a waste of paper.

 

Pray to God, and when you do, use reasoning, and don’t leave a single argument unused that might help you to prevail with God to send what you want.

 

That is as much as I want to say about this model prayer.

 

Now I want to talk a little longer about:—


THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO PRAY THAT’S FOUND IN THIS PASSAGE.


Folks, it is always easier do a something when you see other people doing it.

 

Many people have taken medicine only because they know another man or woman has taken it.

 

I believe everyone here today makes it their practice to pray in times of suffering and grief.

 

But, it would be better if a person prayed about everything, and then trusted God for the blessings.

 

Allow me to tell you about a prayer meeting in the Bible.

 

Peter was in prison, and Herod was so afraid that he would get out again that he had sixteen policemen watch his every move, and the believers knew they could not get Peter out in any other way except one; so they said, "We will hold a prayer meeting."

 

That’s the way it was with the Church at that time, when anything was wrong; they would say, "Where should we hold the prayer meeting?"

 

So, one of the women said she had found a room that would be a good place for a prayer meeting.

 

It was on a back street, so nobody would know about it, but they would have to be quiet.

 

So they held the prayer meeting, and began to pray.

 

I don’t suppose they prayed for the Lord to knock the prison walls down, or to kill the policemen, or anything like that, but I do think they prayed that Peter would get out, and they left how he was to get out up to God.

 

While they were praying there was a knock at the door.

 

"Oh, no!" they said, "That is probably a policeman who has come to get another one of us.

 

But Rhoda went to the door to see who it was, and when she looked she was frightened and started back.

 

The disciples wondered, “What did she see?”

 

However, she returned to the door and looked again, and she became convinced that it was Peter, himself.

 

So, she went back to the others, and said, “Peter is at the gate."

 

They were the Lord’s men, and they had been praying that Peter would be set free, but they could not believe it, and they said, "Oh, it must be his spirit, or an angel."

 

"No," the girl said, "I know Peter very well; he has been here dozens of times, and I know it is Peter"; and then Peter came in, and they couldn’t believe what they saw.

 

They had asked God to set Peter free, and there he was.

 

It was the prayer meeting that did it.

 

And all of us should draw near to God in prayer when ever we have a need.

 

I want to read a poem about prayer that may say it better than I can.

 

Prayer makes the darkest cloud withdraw,
Prayer mounts the ladder Jacob saw,
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above.

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian armour bright;
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.


It is prayer that does it, and this fact should push us to pray more often.


The success of Daniel's prayer is the next encouragement for us pray.

 

He hadn’t even got to the end of his prayer when he felt a soft hand touch him, and he looked up, and there stood Gabriel in the form of a man.

 

That was certainly a quick response.

 

It came much quicker than Daniel expected; as soon as he began to pray, the word went out for the angel to descend from heaven.

 

The answer to prayer is the most rapid thing in the world.

 

God tells us in His Word, "Before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear."

 

I believe electricity travels at the rate of 186,000 miles in a second; but prayer travels even faster than that, since it is, "Before they call I will answer."

 

It takes no time at all.

 

When it’s God’s will to answer, the answer may come as soon as the desire is made known.

 

And if the answer is delayed, it is only because God has decided to wait until a better time.

 

Prayer cannot fail.

 

It’s as likely that heaven and earth will pass away, as it is that prayer will fail.

 

It’s more likely that God will stop the sun from rising, than for Him to cease to reply to the faithful, believing, spirit-lead prayers of His own people.

 

Therefore, we should pray, because God wants to give us what we ask Him for.


There’s another reason we should be encouraged; it’s that Daniel prayed for a very hard thing.

 

Jerusalem was in ruins; the Jews were scattered; they had done many sinful things; but, nevertheless, Daniel prayed, and God heard him.

 

We are not in as bad a shape as those people; we don’t have to feel sad because God has left us; a child of God doesn’t even have to worry about God withdrawing His hand.

 

Folks, there’s nothing about this life that’s worth a cent, if God’s Spirit is gone.

 

If I lost His Spirit, which He gave me, words could not express the sorrow I would feel.

 

Why is it that so many Christians are backsliding today?

 

It quenches the Spirit, and makes the heart grow cold, and then they even stop going to church for the silliest reasons: the building is too cold; the Pastor didn’t shake my hand; I don’t like the song books.

 

If you are a child of God, pray daily for God to keep His hand on us, and continue to show us loving kindness, and to help us be faithful until He takes us from here to our new home.

 

One thing I would like you to take note of is that Daniel was only one man, nevertheless he got what he asked God for; and that’s something that I find encouraging.

 

But, if two of you agree as touching any one thing, it shall be done.

 

But how about three people praying, or fifty, or every member of a church.

 

If every one prayed at once, for a blessing from God, oh! how wonderfully God might respond!

 

I pray that would be the case!


Friends, how about your private prayers: are they what they should be?

 

What about those morning prayers, and those evening prayers, and that midday prayer, are those prayers what they should be?

 

There must be a lot praying if there is going to be a lot rejoicing in the Lord.


And then, what about your family prayers: do you keep them up?

 

Sierra and I pray together often. 

 

We always pray before leaving the house, and before doing anything for God. 

 

Sometimes we pray together before bedtime, but we’re not as faithful in this respect. 

 

I believe that one of the best things a mother and father can do for their children is to have a family prayer time.

 

I am sure we cannot expect our children to grow up to be godly men and women, if there is no family prayer.

 

So, are your family prayers, what they ought to be?


Next, let me say to each one of you, how about your prayers as members of Christ’s Church?

 

It really is great to see you here this morning, but I must confess that I am a little sad, because there are some people that I used to see, that don't see now.

 

Please, do not get into the habit of neglecting to join with others for prayer.

 

"All our strength lies in prayer"!

 

If you have been a Christian for even a little while you know God answers prayer.

 

In times of need and trouble we have cried to God, and he has heard us.

 

So please, never stop praying.

 

The problem is, we only pray a little and we just ask for a little, and God gives it.

 

You are the salt of the earth; if you love Jesus don’t let your salt lose its savor.

 

We can expect great things if we pray with the right motives and attitude.

 

The blessings that come to you may be greater than you can imagine.

 

Pray for those right here that are without Jesus.

 

They will not pray for themselves, therefore let’s pray for them, until at last they do pray to God for themselves.

 

Prayer can unlock God’s mercy door, for others as well as for ourselves; therefore, let us, pray without ceasing, and may God send us blessings, for Jesus' sake.

 

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