What is the most important item involved in both prophecy and God’s plans? It is prayer, and there is a good example in Daniel 9:1-19. This passage took place on the Sabbath. Daniel read the scroll containing the prophecies of the prophet Jeremiah. As he read Jeremiah’s words, he wept as he was reminded how God’s people had ignored the prophet’s warnings that the Israelites would be captured because they did not follow God’s law.
When Daniel read the prophecy of Jeremiah 25:8-11, almost 70 years had passed since he and his fellow Israelites were carried away into captivity. Daniel was sensitive to what the prophet Jeremiah taught about divine sovereignty and human responsibility. He knew what God had said, because Jeremiah made it clear. Prophetic truth drove him to his knees. A deep understanding of the Word of God and the will of God motivated Daniel’s fervent prayer. The prayers of God’s people ought to be similarly motivated.
Daniel confessed the sins of the people as their representative. He recognized that in order to release his people from their captivity, there had to be a confession of sin on the part of the people. God had warned if the Israelites failed to keep His covenant and disobeyed the law, they would be taken into exile by a foreign nation and restored only because of His faithfulness and mercy. Rebellious Christians can never do enough to reconcile with God. Only because of God’s mercy and faithfulness are they forgiven and restored.
In response to Daniel’s prayer, God revealed His plan for the Jewish people. God was not finished with them, despite their unfaithfulness to Him. That plan involved:
- Bringing sin under control so it would not grow and flourish any more.
- Eliminating sin.
- Atoning for sins.
- Bringing in everlasting righteousness.
- Fulfilling all prophecies when Christ comes and establishes His kingdom.
- Establishing Christ’s Kingdom on earth
God’s plan doesn’t mean that we can sit back and relax. On the contrary, the plan requires us to act and get involved. Just like the disciples were told to go into the world and spread the Gospel, Daniel had a responsibility to ask God about His plans.
Similarly, we have a responsibility to ask God about His plans for our lives. This involves coming to God in prayer. God does hear, honour and answer prayer. God heard Daniel’s prayer to restore the people. This happened because one person devoted to the Lord became an example of prayerfulness and was used by God to stir up others to do the same thing.
True prayer is based on the fact that God is a God who looks for us and who wants us to look for Him. If we look for Him, He will tell us what He has promised to do and what His plan for our lives is. We have to ask in accordance with God’s will.
True prayer always seeks the glory of God. It should be our motive for living. It should be people-oriented and God-centered. Daniel shows us how to pray with both power and confidence. He went to his knees. His prayers were filled with passion and a strong sense of personal helplessness. He was righteous. Specifically, the key to powerful and effective prayer is to follow these steps:
- Start with praise. Praise God for His glory, power and love. Thank Him for providing for you.
- Confess your sins
- Appeal for mercy
- Ask God to act
- Pray the will of God. Study HIs Word. Understand His will for your life.
- Never give up.
What stirs our hearts to prayer? Is it a trial or tragedy, or is it based on a persistent pursuit of our personal relationship with God based on His Word? We should pray on a regular basis rather that speaking with God only in times of crisis. God wants us to intercede, to grow in love for Him, and love others.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, p. 1136-1137)
- Ferguson, S.B. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 21: Daniel (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1988, pp. 172-181)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010)
- Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “The Key to Power.” Retrieved from www.ltw.org
- Pastor David McGee, “Purposed Prayer Prescriptions.” Retrieved from www.crossthebridge.com
- Jeremiah, David: Agents of Babylon (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers; 2015; pp. 251-279)
- Os Hillman, “Spiritual Contacts.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org