Often relational breakdown may be attributed to the lack of conversation … the inability to communicate with one another, be it as spouses, friends, family or in the workplace. Once this occurs, relationships sour and individuals start distancing themselves from each other. Interaction or conversation only happens on a need to know basis. Because of this, friendliness, intimacy, happiness, respect and love start disappearing to the point where the “other person” does not really matter. We all know how this works. It starts with one person, but always ends up with two or more people being involved in a non-active relationship. Using this illustration, we all know how this very experience works its way into one’s relationship with God. You know what it’s like between a Church member and the Church … first the member stops tithing, then there is less involvement (ministry) to the point where the person just stops attending Church. Adding this illustration it’s easy to see the breakdown in a relationship between you and God. Like with a Church, where the first thing to go is the tithe … with you the first thing to go is prayer! You might still read the Bible and fulfil other spiritual disciplines, but prayer is gone and when prayer is God there is a relational breakdown. The first unwritten spiritual law associated with prayer is that prayer is hard! I don’t refer here to that occasional prayer missile or a two minute shot before you sleep at night. True, intentional, relational and intimate prayer is hard because it requires a real relationship. Daniel’s prayer relates to the wickedness of Israel that led to their exile, with Jerusalem falling and the temple being destroyed. The principles that unfold in this prayer are extremely important for us as believers if we intend keeping a healthy relationship with God to ensure that He hears, understands and accepts our repentance and provides for our future. As we consider Daniel’s prayer I thought of breaking it up into themes, but then I realized he prays the prayer from verse 4 to 19 … so we will deal with his prayer verses by verse and see what we are able to learn about prayer to improve our own prayer life. As we approach the prayer (and I hope you have read it all), we observe two parts to the prayer.
(1) There is the acknowledgement of sin and guilt … and
(2) There is a pleading for mercy. The first part of the prayer is also divided into two parts …
(i) A statement of sin and guilt (verses 4-10) …
(ii) God’s punishment for sin and guilt (verses 11-14). 1) A personal relationship with the True God.
Da 9:4 O Lord, the great and awesome God.
God’s name being LORD and used by Daniel in this way shows he enjoys a personal relationship with God. God does not respond to prayers of people who do not know Him personally. I am aware of how many people throughout the planet, associated with many religions, engage in prayers … but if they do not know the True God of Creation, Scriptures and Salvation … they pray in vain. So it is wise to do a reality check by asking … “Do I have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, having been born again and living a life of repentance, proving it through the fruits of the Holy Spirit?”
2) A personal understand of the attributes of God.
Da 9:4 the great and awesome God.
(1) The word “great” reminds us of the omnipotence or the almightiness of God as the only God that exists. He is huge, powerful, preeminent and sovereign.
(2) The word “awesome” was translated as “dreadful” in older versions. Looking at the context I would prefer the word “dreadful”.
Putting these two words together, “great and dreadful”, we realize that God is mighty and able to bring about what He did in Israel’s case because of her wicked, sinful rebellion that led to her exile and life of almost 70 years under pagan rule. O my beloved, as you study the great divines of the Puritan era you will see their constant reference to personal sin and especially their own personal sin. I have said this many times … we live at a time where Christianity has polluted herself with materialism and secularism. There is little fear of God in Church communities, be it from the pastors, elders or Christian workers to the membership. I am ashamed but I must include myself here … we just don’t see sin as bad as what it really is. Why would this be? May I suggest that we want the world (materialism and secularism) more than we want Jesus! Because of this we don’t see the Cross of Calvary in its proper context. The context is God’s angry wrath against sin! Maybe we ought to do another reality check and ask … “Do I truly understand the magnitude of Calvary and do I truly understand the gravity of my personal sin?” My friends, these two questions might be provocative and challenging … and perhaps even confrontational, but knowing God personally and knowing how much sin offends Him, when properly understood, results in willingly producing the behavior that God requires.
3) A personal understanding of God’s covenant love.
Da 9:4 who keeps his covenant of love.
One of the greatest attributes that relates to us Christians in a measurable manner is God’s faithfulness. What He says He does! Maybe the best text to lean upon here is …
Ex 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
This is one of the Ten Commandments. Daniel would have known this very well. Verses 4-5 are the reason they are in exile yet verse 6 was experienced personally by all those, who like Daniel enjoyed a personal union with God. God’s covenant love was expressed throughout the Old Testament to the families of Israel … and it was carried into the Christian Church. Peter explained this in:
Ac 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
If you are a parent or an older person in the Church, do you include children in the Church’s activities and ministries? Where children need to believe and repent to be saved, they fall under God’s covenant of love in your home and Church.
Lord, help us to be serious about being in union with You. Amen.