Once you have observed a health problem and taken it to the doctor and he makes a diagnosis, the action that normally follows if he can treat it is medication. Diagnosis must lead to action. Once you have studied the Word and God speaks clearly to your through His Word (The Bible), the first action that needs to follow is prayer. Before any other spiritual medication is required, prayer must be administered. The Word of God must drive you to prayer. In Daniels case it was so. Once he found important information in the Word of God that the exile (desecration of God’s people) was nearing its end (70 literal years), he resorted to prayer. What is interesting is, like the medical doctor prescribing two or three medicines to take … maybe a cough mixture, an antibiotic and an injection …
1) Daniel employs various spiritual graces.
Da 9:3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
The backdrop is sin … the nation’s sin that led to the devastation and desecration of Jerusalem and more importantly, the Temple, which was God’s presence amongst the people. (The temple did not just represent the presence of God. God was present in the Holy of Holies!) This amplifies our understanding of … (v2) … the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.Israel’s repetitive sin caused this abomination with the result being her exile. Into this context we are able to better understand verse 3. The verse reminds one of
1Ti 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.
John Calvin said something like … “in this verse the Holy Spirit gives a variety of ways to pray because He knew man would get bored praying”. Bored in the sense of being distracted, losing focus and having a wandering mind. Into the context of praying for “everyone”, he says
(a) Requests are asking for something definite. It’s like a personal pleas (moan), normally for oneself.
(b) Prayers are all kinds of prayers.
(c) Intercession are prayers for other people.
(d) Thanksgiving would be for the way God blesses all people, the saved and the unsaved with prosperity and success … and in the context it would include the state. Daniel’s prayer shows that at the time of his prayer there was no immediate sign of Israel’s freedom and their return to Jerusalem and Judah. He saw what the Scriptures said but there was no sign of their release happening. It’s very much like us knowing Jesus is coming again … that is the promise of God, yet there are no signs it will be soon … even though by implication it is imminent.
(1) Daniel turns to God. Note he turns to the Lord God. He wants us to know that the God of Creation and Scripture is the God he turns to. Also note he does not turn and face Jerusalem … He turns to God. We don’t face Jerusalem or any other place when we pray. We close our eyes and settle down, seated, on the knees, standing, etc. with our focus on God!
(2) Daniel pleads with God. The word “pleaded” shows urgency of the most serious nature. Just because we are so far removed from Daniel, the exile and the rule of Darius the Mede does not mean we cannot put ourselves in his place. Let’s create the picture … Israel, although delinquent in the worst sense of rebellion because of extreme wickedness as a nation over a protracted period of time, refusing the warnings of God through the prophets, were still the people of God and there were faithful believers amongst them. The temple and the Levitical Priesthood with its sacrificial system were the center of worship, housed in the City of David (Jerusalem). The temple had a few components such as the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. Between these two “rooms” hung a thick curtain separating the two. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies once a year with a container of blood to sprinkle on the mercy seat to make atonement for himself and the people. Within this chamber was the mercy seat. God was present in the Holy Place. The sprinkled blood over the mercy seat appeased an angry God because of their sin. Forgiveness was granted. Restitution was made. Relationship was restored. Naturally all of this was a picture pointing to the Cross of the Lord Jesus … but it was destroyed! For the duration of this exile there was no sacrifice which meant no pardon, no reconciliation and no relationship. This was the … the desolation of Jerusalem … that … would last seventy years. This was punishment … we may even call this wrath because the exile was wrath poured out … and never forget, this was wrath poured out upon the people of God! No wonder Daniel pleaded with God. He knew the 70 years had almost expired. He wanted change for himself and his people. He understood Jeremiah’s teaching (Scripture). He understood the reason for their dilemma. He knew why God was distant. He grasped why they were captives to a pagan king and a pagan nation. He more than any saw the daily pagan religious rites performed and was utterly disgusted. More than anything he knew he and his people needed God and needed to return to God and to the homeland they were given by God. He knew the temple needed to be erected again and the sacrificial system restored. He knew they needed God … desperately! Before we engage the variety of prayers as Calvin says, may I ask we become very provocative? True Holy Spirit, spiritual revivals are seldom if ever heard in our day. Why? It might be the Church and it might be the leaders of the Church … but let’s look at ourselves.
(i) Is God anger with you? Only you will know the answer by looking at
(a) How often you sin and
(b) Which types of sin you engage in. Are they repetitive?
Do you realize how disappointed God is with you and your sin?
(ii) Has God got you under discipline? Are things collapsing in your life, home, relationships, employment, finances and health? Is God using practical ways to discipline you into realizing He is serious about holiness?
(iii) Do you need to return to God? Has your Christianity become a form or ritual? Through repentance and honesty do you need to return to God who waits like the father of the prodigal son?
Father lead each straying soul back to the comfort of Your loving care and protection in Jesus Christ. Amen.