How concerned are you for the physical building the people of God meet in? We know it is brick and mortar. We know that it is a building for the gathering of the people of God and it does not matter whether the building is hired or owned as it is a meeting place. We understand all this … but if the premises are owned by the Church and if it is dedicated for the Glory of God, how ought the building to be used and treated? Who paid for the building? Follow my logic here … if the Church was paid for by the tithes and offerings of the people of God so that they and those who would come into the Church might have a place to gather, where they may worship God, be taught the Scriptures and serve the body … and these premises are dedicated for the express purpose as mentioned and the Glory of God … then the premises are holy unto the Lord and needs to be used for godly activities. We know God is present everywhere and that means He dwells in all places of worship and especially in the hearts of His people … but ever since Israel’s temple was built, it was God’s dwelling place. There was one temple … one place of worship and one place to sacrifice. Within the structures of the temple the two main rooms were the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. God resided as it were in the Holy of Holies and was amongst His people. So the temple was sacred, set apart for the express purpose of God meeting with His people and a place where pardon was sought through sacrifice. Having said this you can imagine how important the temple was to the people who revered God, His name and His place. But right now as Daniel prayed, the temple was desolate! It had been destroyed, uninhabited by God, used for pagan rites … this was truly and abomination.
1) Having pleaded for pardon, Daniel asks God to return with favor to Jerusalem and to the temple.
Da 9:17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary.”
Amongst all the things he could ask God for on behalf of the nation he asks God to look with favor upon the sanctuary (temple) … for God’s sake! Why would he pray like this? The word “favor” is also translated as “shine”. Daniel wants the “shine” … the glory of God to return to the temple because once the glory was back, God was back and if God was there He would need His people back there to worship and sacrifice! Right here is one of the most important lessons in prayer. We tend to pray for specific things that will improve our lot in life, provide for our needs … too often it is give me, give me … where we ought to seek a return of the glory of God to our hearts and lives and families and Church! You see, once the glory of the Lord returns, everything else that is needed and necessary falls into place and those things that are on the fringe or self-centered fall away.
2) Now Daniel asks God to open His ears and eyes as if God was temporally deaf and blind
Da 9:18 “Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”
The tempo of his prayer picks up … Lord see and hear … see the state of the City of God (the city that bears your Name the city that bears your Name). “Lord, this is Your holy City. She is called Mount Zion. Your name is associated with this City Lord. Hear our pleas and open Your eyes to see Your city is uninhabited. Mercy. You set this city apart for your people, yet Your people are in exile. Lord they need to be in the City of God.” It’s a contradiction … this place is for Your people yet they are not here!
3) The last verse of the prayer is intense
Da 9:19 “O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
This verse summarizes the prayer.
(1) Notice the three fold “O Lord” followed by O my God. Daniel knows God personally and as he prays He knows the urgency of the hour and pleads accordingly. How intense are your prayers? Daniel knew his prayers hit the target … the heart of God. What he wanted and needed was a response! Some people feel their prayers hit the ceiling of their room. Such prayers go nowhere! Knowing God personally and speaking directly to God … not putting on a show but being serious and urgent is what God wants in our prayer life! Let us once again do a spiritual stock take on our prayer life. In business a stock take’s intention is to put a value on the worth of the company. What is the value of your prayers like? Do they have worth before the Throne of God?
(2) Look at the quadruplets …
His prayer is like … “Listen Lord to forgive us. Hear Lord and act.” Daniel is bold. He does not beat around the bush in his requests … but he remains reverend. Irrespective of how intense our prayers become. Irrespective of how urgent our needs are … we never lose respect, honor and reverence for God.
(3) See the zenith of his prayer …
(i) For Your sake. God is the central being in his prayer because prayer is not about man. It is all about God and His glory.
(ii) Do not delay. Again the urgency of the situation to Daniel is that time is running out! The seventy years are almost exhausted. Forgive me if I appear a little tongue in cheek here … God operates according to a time table. Daniel operates according to Israel’s need. God’s timing and ours differ but He will not allow His people to endure more than they can handle.
(iii) But overall, this prayer is all about God, God’s place and God’s people. The place (Jerusalem and the Temple) are in tatters and uninhabited by the people who are in exile. It’s like Daniel is saying … “Lord, how can this be? It’s just not right. Your people need to be in your place.” Let’s sum up the prayer in four ways.
(a) Focus. The focus of this prayer is God, His glory and honor.
(b) Attitude. Daniel’s attitude is extremely reverent and respectful knowing that he is dealing with the God of creation who brought Israel to life.
(c) Intensity. Daniel’s prayer was very deep. He dug deep into the heart of God as he prayed.
(d) Urgency. His prayer was urgent because the need was great. His first need was pardon for the nation. The second was the restoration of the temple and the city so that God’s glory would once again be visible. The third was that the people be returned to their rightful place. Their situation was their fault but it could be changed through confession, repentance and faithfulness. Will your prayer life change as Daniel’s did?
Lord thank You for this prayer. Teach me to pray. Amen.