Daniel – His boldness in prayer

Today we will look at the boldness of Daniel in prayer. We again take our minds to the prayer of Daniel in the 9th chapter.

“O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
(Daniel 9:16-19)

He trusted in the mercy of God. Daniel knew that they could not make a plea to God based upon their own righteousness, but all Israel would have to fall upon the mercy of God. This is something Daniel was confident in, that God would be merciful.

Daniel stood on God’s promises. Because he knew the promises of God, and because he knew the God who keeps His promises, Daniel felt very confident to call upon God to act upon those promises.

He was very bold in asking God to:

  • Let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem.
  • Listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy.
  • For your own sake, make your face shine upon YOUR sanctuary, which is desolate.
  • Incline your ear and hear.
  • Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by YOUR name.
  • O Lord, hear!
  • O Lord, forgive!
  • O Lord, pay attention and act!
  • Delay not, for your own sake!

Men, that is the same boldness that God wants us to have when we come to His throne in prayer. Trust in God’s mercy. Stand on His promises. Call upon Him with boldness and confidence that grows out of an understanding of God’s unfailing mercy.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16)

…in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
(Ephesians 3:12)

Daniel – His humility in prayer

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God,
(Daniel 9:20)

I encourage you to read Daniel 9 this morning and meditate upon Daniel’s prayer. Daniel, at the end of the 70 year captivity, turned to God in prayer and fasting with pleas for God’s mercy. There is so much to be said here from Daniel 9, and more articles will follow, but today I want to focus on the humility of Daniel in prayer.

As you look over Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9, take notice of a few things:

Daniel confessed HIS sin, not just the sins of the nation of Israel. He took ownership of his own rebellion against God. Whatever Daniel was like before he went into captivity, we don’t know, but it sure seems like Daniel had his own part in the sins that caused Israel to go into captivity. Maybe being taken into captivity sobered him up and straightened him out.

In his prayer, Daniel said “we” and “us,” not “I” and “they.” If you listen to good leaders talk, they use we and us much more than “I, Me, Mine.” This was a collective problem and Daniel could not distance himself from it.

Look at the understanding Daniel had of the whole situation. He knew the Scriptures. Moses told them what to do, and said that if they didn’t do it the people would go into captivity (1400’s BC). Several hundred years afterward, Solomon prayed/prophesied that when Israel went into captivity and recognized their sins, that they will pray toward Jerusalem and God will hear, forgive and bring them home (1 Kings 8, 900’s BC). Centuries later, Jeremiah added that they would go into captivity for 70 years, and that they will not come home a day sooner (Jeremiah 29:10, 600’s BC). Daniel was very discerning and knew that these things were written in the Scriptures. He knew the commands that he and the others had broken. It is plain he was aware of the consequences of their unfaithfulness. He also had come to learn and understand of the unfailing love and mercy of God for His people. But he also knew that Israel would not be going home until those 70 years were completed (538-536 BC). Once that time had come, Daniel began praying with all his might for God to act upon His promise. That wisdom and discernment does not come without first having humility.

May we all have the humble heart of Daniel. A heart like Daniel is one that looks in the mirror first before pointing fingers of blame. We will look at God’s word for guidance and light, even when it sheds light and the truth gets ugly. Daniel’s humble heart allowed him to see the ugly in his own life, but he also could see the outreached arm of God ready to forgive and take him back.

Daniel – While I was speaking and praying

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, 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. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 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.
(Daniel 9:20-23)

This passage is so encouraging to me, and I hope it is to you. Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 is just simply incredible. It is full of humility, love for God and a clear understanding of both God’s word and the history of God’s people. He made all the connections between God’s unfailing love and Israel’s unfaithfulness, but Daniel did not leave himself out of the mix, either. We’ll look at another time at the prayer of Daniel in chapter 9. But what I want to focus on is God answering this prayer.

God did not waste a second in responding to Daniel’s prayer did he? Go back and look over the passage and take note of a few things:

  • While I was still speaking – Daniel was in the middle of the prayer when Gabriel appeared. God didn’t say, “Well, let’s see how he finishes this prayer and then we will decide.”
  • Came to me in swift flight – Awesome…just awesome. I wish I knew more about angels, but it would probably scare me to death. Gabriel flew…and it took time to get to Daniel. Can’t say I understand that, but regardless, God sent Gabriel and told him to hurry to get to Daniel. “Daniel needs you, Gabriel.” That is our God, and in Hebrews 1:14, we are told that angels are ministering to Christians today. They come in swift flight to take care of God’s people today.
  • At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out – Jesus tells us that God already knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). We still have to ask, though! But when we begin to reach out to God, that very instant God is running to us! It is like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. The son had a prepared speech and was on his way home to give it to his father. The father ran to him and didn’t let him finish his prepared speech. That is our God, that is our loving Father. The moment Daniel prayed for mercy from God, God sent the word out through heaven and Gabriel rushed to Daniel’s side.

Passages like this help me see God in such a tender and loving light. He greatly loved Daniel and he greatly loves us.

Daniel – As He Had Done Previously

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
(Daniel 6:10)

What would you do if a law was signed in the U.S. saying that you could not pray to any god except the king for 30 days? What if the consequences were being thrown into a den of lions? Would we do what Daniel did?

I can imagine what might go through the mind of a person in such a situation. Well, it’s only 30 days, God will understand. He wants us to live a quiet, peaceable life and mind our own business. Maybe I can pray in my head and no one will know. A den of lions…that’s scary, stuff. I’ll just take a low profile for 30 days and ride out the storm.

On the other hand, Daniel wasn’t in your face rebellious, either. What I mean by that is that some Christians seem to be looking for a political fight and are trying to take it to the opposition any chance they get. Daniel didn’t do that. What did the text say? Daniel just did what he always did! He prayed three times a day.

Daniel was Daniel, and his prayers to his God weren’t hindered by changes in the culture, by his geographical location, by laws, or by any demands or pressures of life. Like Timothy was encouraged to be, Daniel was the same “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).

“What he had done previously,” says quite a bit to us. If our manner of life is not one that can be characterized by consistent prayer and devotion, then let’s take a lesson from the life of Daniel. Because Daniel was consistent in his prayer and relationship with God, he could deal with any change, law, pressure, etc. in the turbulent world around him.

Are you praying with your wife?

Here are a few thoughts today about praying with your wife.

Praying with your sister in Christ.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).

Think of all the passages in Scripture that encourage and teach about God’s people coming together to pray. Don’t just apply that to what goes on at the church building! Those same passages can be applied to you and your wife. We get kind of compartmentalized in our application of Scripture sometimes and miss the obvious.

Laboring in prayers

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12).

A brother named Epaphras was mentioned in Colossians by Paul. What I find very interesting is that Paul wrote that Epaphras was laboring, struggling or wrestling in prayer (depending on which version you read). The early Christians had to “devote” themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42). This is a spiritual war in which we are facing the Devil (Ephesians 6:10-18). He does everything to oppose God and His people, including our efforts to pray together. You try to pray consistently with your wife and see what happens. There is amazing good that happens, because God is at work. But be on guard because the Devil will do everything in his power to keep you and your wife from praying together. It is war. You are wrestling with Satan and his forces of darkness. But with Jesus you will overcome (Revelation 12:11)! Don’t give up!

Arrow prayers. 

At a practical level, one thing that most likely will discourage you from having regular prayer time is the unrealistic expectation that you have to have a marathon prayer session every time you pray. This is a trap that I believe men fall into even at the church building. We feel like we have to cover every base every time we pray. Please don’t try to cover the whole “prayer list” every time you sit down to pray. Pick one or two specific things each day and pray about that. Rotate it around. Don’t make a rigid schedule. Be flexible and merciful to yourselves if you miss a day or two. Keep trying, don’t give up!

Hospitality

Hospitality is a word and concept we studied this morning in Bible class.  The Greek word for hospitality is “philoxenos” which means love (philos) strangers (xenos).  We considered many things during class in regards to what hospitality is, what our motivation should be towards hospitality, what prohibits us (or we allow to prohibit us) from being hospitable, who we mean when we say “strangers”, and several other shared thoughts and examples.  To cover all of it in this post would not be possible.  With that said, take time and read Romans 12 and Hebrews 13:2 and meditate on this idea of loving strangers.  Think about who a stranger is in your life…not just those in the world but who do you need to get to know better and show love towards within your church family?

For the remainder of this post, let’s look at 1 Peter 4:9 where we find the word philoxenos.  In chapter four of this book, Peter continues teaching Christians how to live in knowing that the end of all things is near and more specifically how to live “the rest of their time” …not in the flesh but in the will of God.  Peter first commands them to keep their minds clear and alert and be prayerful.  Next Peter tells them to have fervent love for each other noting that “love will cover a multitude of sins” (Proverb 10:12).

In verse nine, Peter directs Christians to demonstrate love by offering hospitality without grumbling, or begrudgingly or in a selfish manner.  In class, we discussed the different ways this might take place and even though we might think it is limited to what we might see as the standard today in terms of having people in our homes, visiting others, serving those in the community, etc.  But God is saying here through Peter is that we should be prepared to love and we should love with the gifts that God has given each individual.  That is the awesome part of the body…that its parts are different but put together are powerful.  Well, in this case, if the individual takes their gift and uses it in finding ways to and then loving a stranger…that is powerful too…and that is hospitality.

In Peter’s day, Christian hospitality in great need of and could be a great burden.  Many Christians were forced to flee in persecution which often meant traveling without much to take care of themselves.  These refugees relied on brothers/sisters in Christ to share their homes, goods, food, etc. while hosting them as they traveled through to their destination.  This kind of hospitality could be risky.  It could have been that those sharing didn’t have much to begin with putting the host’s family at risk of running out themselves.  Those hosting could be taken advantage of if the stranger(s) they were inviting in were not who they thought they were.

Still, Peter reminds his readers—and us—that is how family loves each other. It’s part of our purpose as God’s set-apart people. We should embrace the opportunity to give that kind of sacrificial love, instead of offering such hospitality reluctantly.

We could spend a week or two thinking about all the different ideas we covered today in class and maybe we will in the future.  But for today, take 1 Peter 4:9, Romans 12, and Hebrews 13:2 and read them, pray about them.  Take stock of what you are already doing and more, ask God to help move you out of your comfort zone, identify even more opportunity to love strangers, look within your brethren first, and love.  God loved us first when we were strangers to Him because of sin.  There is our example and motivation.  Loving like Him will encourage, reflect the gospel, and provide opportunity for growth in you and in others.

Safety and Encouragement in God’s Word and Blessings

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33; NKJV)

1God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.  2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the  sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah…7 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.  (Psalm 46: 1-3, 7; NKJV)

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  (Isaiah 41:10; NKJV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7; NKJV)

I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.  (Psalm 16: 8; NKJV)

Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22; NKJV)

He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. (Psalm 62:6; NKJV)

…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  (1 Peter 5:7; NKJV)

The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7; NKJV)

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3; NKJV)

I hope you find these verses encouraging today and invite you to work them into your prayers and for the prayers of your brethren.

There have been times when I have sent a text, an email or left a voicemail just trying to encourage a brother or sister and they have either texted me back or called me a few days later apologizing that they didn’t acknowledge it or thank me or some other closure to the gesture.   The last time this happened I told my brother that it was not necessary at all…that I look at encouragement as a “heat seeking missile”…something that you target on what you want to hit and then “fire and forget” knowing that it will hit its mark and have the effect you were hoping for.

That is how I see encouragement…as the encourager we can take heart our effort will have a positive effect and if we are the one being encouraged we might just let it…and leave it at that.  Either way, I am “firing” these verses your way and am confident they will bring you comfort and encouragement…that is God’s blessing and work in your life.

Live blessed today and be a blessing to others!

Safely Abide and Pray

In John 15, Jesus tells us to “Abide in Me.”  Like a branch connected to a vine…be connected and draw nourishment and bear fruit.  Our words will be His words and as we ask of Him it will be granted to us and in that God is glorified.  Love.  The love the Father has for the Son is the love the Son has for us and we love Him by abiding in Him and keeping His commandments.

All of this demonstrates a safe place with Jesus standing at the door calling us in to abide with Him.  When safely in, Jesus wants us to talk like Him and act like Him…obedient and to the glory of God.

So from our safety in Jesus, I invite you to take some time, turn in your bible and read Psalm 91.  Meditate on it and take God’s words given to us by inspiration and pray them on behalf of your home, your children, your grandchildren, and the children of our family in Jesus.

I offer you my version and leave you to yours.

“Dear Heavenly Father, me and my household have made You our dwelling place, the Most High, who is our refuge. I trust that because of this, no evil shall be allowed to befall me and my children, no plague can come near my home. For You will command angels concerning us to minister to my family.  On their hands they will bear me up lest I strike my foot against a stone. I will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent we will trample underfoot. As a father of the children You have blessed me with, I rest upon your promise: “I will rescue those who love Me. I will protect those who trust in My name. When they call on Me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them My salvation.  In name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Share

1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. (Galatians 6:1-5; NKJV)

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  (James 5:13-16; NKJV)

These two passages came to mind as I thought about fear and how it affects our ability to come to one another with our burdens and with our sins.  I was thinking about how hard Satan works to convince us we are supposed to be perfect and how often we fall into that snare.  Our Heavenly Father, however, through His inspired and eternally true word tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short.  He tells us that it is this very thing that He purposed to remedy through sending His Son so that He could offer Himself as payment for our sins.  God does not expect us to be perfect…so if we are feeling like that we are called to perfection then we need to turn to Satan and tell him to get lost.

Because if we think we have to be perfect, then we are going to be afraid to go to the very people who we need the most in this world with our imperfection…our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Have you been afraid to confess your sins to a brother because you were certain they couldn’t possibly forgive you or somehow your relationship with them would be forever changed?  I have.  And how unfair is that to my brother…because if I am afraid to be honest, open and vulnerable with him…how hard is going to be for him to do the same with me or am I causing him to question his worthiness as a brother.  There are a lot of scenarios that could play you but the bottom line is that the one scenario that should play out is very clearly described above.  God’s word says go to your brother.  God says bear another’s burden.  God says pray!  God assures us that we will be forgive, healed, and that the fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much.

We so very much need each other, and we cannot be afraid to share the hard stuff.  There are no secrets.  God sees it all.  He wants us to share it not so that we can be open with Him but with one another.  That we can be encouraged when we are down and when we are the encourager we can know there will be someone for us when we find ourselves in need of a brother to lean on.

I believe Satan works to confuse us with what is expected and drives a wedge between us.  A lot of time he uses fear as that tool.  Don’t be afraid.  Trust God…He will be with you when you trust a brother and share.

One Body

Today, I would like to give some ideas and verses about our place in the Body of Christ and invite you to pray and meditate on how your role as a leader and servant within the roles you are given.

A body is a living organism and is made up of many parts.  This is true of the Church.  We are the body of Christ on earth:

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  (Ephesians 1:22-23)

Christ is the head of the body.  “…He is the head of the body, the church…” (Colossians 1:18)

There is one body.  “…you were called in one body…” (Colossians 3:15)

This one body is composed of many members.  “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” (Ephesians 5:30)

The people of God are individually members of one another.  “…for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25)

As you consider this, I invite you to read John 15 and consider the imagery Jesus gives us of the Living Vine, the Good Gardner, and the branches.  The imagery is very similar and as where with the Vine the braches (that’s us) are to abide…what are we to do in the Body?

Hold fast to the Head!  “…holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments…” (Colossians 2:18).  Therefore, let our prayer be “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and build up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

Be Holy!  “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…For God did not call us to uncleanness but in holiness…”  (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).  Therefore let our prayer be that God would help us to “…cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”    (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Grow!  “…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”  (Ephesians 4:15-16).  Therefore, let our prayer be that God help us to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 3:18)

My hope is you will join me today in reading, thinking about, and praying about the Body of Christ, what it is, what our role is and how we might grow so that the whole Body benefits.