Tuesday, March 22, 2022

2022.03.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Daniel 9:4–9

Read Daniel 9:4–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What is Daniel doing unto Whom (Daniel 9:4)? What does he “make”? What does he call Yahweh in the prayer? What does he acknowledge that the Lord has done? With whom has He kept this covenant and mercy? But what four things does Daniel immediately confess (Daniel 9:5)? By departing from what two things? And failing to heed whom (Daniel 9:6)? What had the prophets done in what Name? To which four groups in particular? What belongs to the Lord in Daniel 9:7? But what belonged to those four groups? At what time? Divided into what three groups during Daniel’s day? In what places are they? How did they get there? Why did He drive them there? Against Whom was their unfaithfulness committed? What does he now acknowledge belongs to his people (Daniel 9:8)? And especially to whom? But to Whom belongs what in Daniel 9:9? Even despite what?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and first song all come from Daniel 9:4–9 so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Great King of Nations, Hear Our Prayer

These six verses are part of a longer passage in which Daniel realizes that God is about to end the desolations of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:2), prepares himself to pray intensely (Daniel 9:3), and then prays (Daniel 9:4-19). The passage as a whole is a marvelous example of believing God’s Word and laying hold of God’s character.

That’s the nature of prayer—laying hold of God as we know Him to be for things for which He has taught us to ask. Those who cling to false religions treat faith as looking into themselves for how intensely they can hope for what they want. Sadly, many who call themselves Christians also think of prayer in this way.

But true Christian prayer first of all lays hold of God’s character. God is indeed “great and awesome” and “keeps covenant and covenant-love” (Daniel 9:4). But He is also just and holy, which means that He does this “with those who love Him and with those who keep His commandments.” 

Marvelously, Daniel is able to note that at the end of verse 4, immediately before saying, “we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled” (Daniel 9:5). Daniel knows that God’s righteousness is not just a righteousness from which He punishes the wicked, but also a righteousness in which God makes the wicked righteous (“O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away,” Daniel 9:16). This is that righteousness of God which is from faith to faith in Romans 1:17.

With God’s own righteousness accounted for us in Christ, we can draw joy and confidence from every aspect of His character—even despite our sin!

And it is necessary that we own this sin. For, not only is our sin against God’s character, which we must lay hold of; but, our sin is also against God’s Word, which guides us in what to pray. And Daniel makes this point when he says that they have sinned by “departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your Name” (Daniel 9:5-6).

Therefore, since prayer must lay hold of Who God is and ask for what God has promised, confession of sin must be a significant part of all true praying. When we come before Him and His Word, we must admit that to us belongs “shame of face” (Daniel 9:7Daniel 9:8) “because we have sinned against You” (verse 8). Thankfully, one thoroughly biblical way of identifying God is as the One to Whom belongs “mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him” (Daniel 9:9). 

Whether Daniel or you, whether Jerusalem or Nineveh or Nashville, praying brings us face to face with the One Who forgives sin in Jesus Christ. And so our praying must do those two things: come through Christ alone and ask for forgiveness of sin. And it is then that we may freely and joyously lay hold of all that He is and all that He says.

What part do the attributes of God have in your own praying? What might you have to learn in order to improve this? How might you pray more according to God’s words as they shape right desires?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are the great and awesome and loving and righteous and forgiving God. Forgive us our sins, and make us always to acknowledge them before You. Shape our thoughts and desires by Your Word, and give us good recall of Your Word, so that our praying may be by faith in what You say, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH557 “Great King of Nations, Hear Our Prayer”

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