Seeking the Lord by Prayer

We have a lesson in prayer here. Daniel models for us how to pray and what to pray.

Sermon Notes:

1.Daniel is reading from Jeremiah 29:10 what the Lord had promised, that He would judge the king of Babylon and would restore His people after 70 years.

2.Daniel is expectant as he sees things happening just as God has said, and recognizes the time of restoration is coming.

3.His response is to pray. He turns to the Lord and makes confession and a plea for mercy. The angel Gabriel was commissioned to come to Daniel and answer his prayer (v. 21).

4.Here, Daniel models how to pray and what to pray. First, he teaches us about the significance of God’s Word and prayer. Daniel prays with his Bible open in front of him. It guides and shapes his prayer.

  1. Then he shows us how we should confess sin and plead for God’s mercy (v. 16-19).

6.It’s easy to jump over verses 1-2, but pay attention to what we read about Daniel’s practice of prayer. Scripture prompts his prayer, and scripture sets the agenda and the content for his prayer.

7.We would expect that Daniel, reading about the judgment on the king of Babylon, would pray for deliverance and restoration, instead we get a prayer of confession (v. 4).

8.As a man daily studying God’s Word, he understands the reason for the exile (cf. Lev. 6, Deut. 4 and 28. In the law God warns His people that if they refuse to walk in his ways, He would scatter them among the nations.

9.God also says that in exile, His people will turn back in repentance, and He will have mercy on them and will deliver them. Daniel knows that God remembers His promises.

10.Daniel makes a prayer of repentance because he knows that God’s law requires repentance in this circumstance. He sent them to exile to bring them back to this place of repentance.

11.Let God in His Word tell you what to pray for, rather than letting the circumstances we find ourselves in and the needs of the day set the agenda for prayer.

12.In his confession Daniel doesn’t try to mitigate anything or offer excuses. It is a direct and candid confession of sin.

13.Sin is a refusal to listen to and obey the voice of God, which Daniel confesses.

  1. But he also confesses who God is. That he is great and steadfast, he is righteous, he has spoken, and has brought calamity for those who have refused to obey his laws. In confessing God he recognizes and accepts God’s judgment on sin.

15.Part of a true and right confession is an acceptance of sin’s consequences. Don’t try to get around God’s judgment on sin. Instead recognize the justice of God’s judgment. 

  1. God’s judgment was in fact an encouragement to Daniel, for God keeps His Word. He does what He says He is going to do. This is what gives Daniel the confidence to plead for mercy.

17.God promises judgment for disobedience, but also promises that His people would seek the Lord and find him (cf. Deut. 4:29-31).

18.When reading Scripture it is always good to look for possessive personal pronouns: The Lord ‘my’ God; ‘your’ city; ‘your holy hill’... This is the language of covenant, and Daniel uses it in his plea for mercy.

  1. The significance of the covenant is that God has bound Himself to His people and identifies Himself with them.
  2. When we come to the Lord’s Table we are reminded of His mercy and forgiveness offered to us each week. And it’s God’s Word that invites us to this meal.

Application Questions:

  1. How can we pray the promises of God’s Word into our prayers for the cares of life?
  2. There are many apostate churches who need our prayers. Pray the church would be revived and restored and brought to repentance and back to God.
  3. What does it mean to be bound to God in covenant fellowship?