Home > Bible Study, Daniel, John MacArthur > Daniel 9: Elements of True Prayer

Daniel 9: Elements of True Prayer

Daniel chapter 9 consists of two major parts: Daniel’s prayer, and the answer. For study of this great chapter in Daniel, I’m looking at John MacArthur’s sermon series “Elements of True Prayer” for the first part of the chapter, Daniel’s prayer. Here are the links to the sermons: part1, part2, and part3.

First we consider the biblical context: the prayer is about 70 years, the answer is regarding 70 weeks of years. The prayer is for restoration, and the answer tells of the ultimate restoration in the coming of Messiah. When looking at Daniel 9, we need to look at both the prayer and the prophecy. As MacArthur says, “Prophecy is important, but it cannot substitute for prayer.”

The historical setting is the first year of King Darius, at the beginning of the Medo-Persian empire. Daniel is now over 80 years old, and along with his fellow Jews has lived most of his life in captivity. The Jews in exile had brought scrolls of the Old Testament writings with them and compiled them together. Daniel had a set of these books, including the books of Jeremiah (Jeremiah and Lamentations). Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 comes as a response to reading Jeremiah’s prophecy about the 70 years, since he knows the end of that period of time is fast approaching. Daniel didn’t know when the 70 years had begun, but he himself had been in captivity close to 70 years now. Actually, as history shows us, the 70 years really would not end for another 20 years, since it did not begin until the temple’s destruction in 586 B.C.; and though at this time Cyrus gave the decree to rebuild the temple, very few went back, and the work to rebuild was slow for many years.

The main point of the prayer passage, though, is a look at intercessory prayer, and here we note the spiritual context: Daniel shows humility (verse 3), confession and reverence (verse 4), a proper attitude of prayer.

Here, from Daniel’s prayer, are eight principles to remember, regarding the nature of true intercessory prayer.

1. Prayer is in response to the Word of God.

“unless we understand the word of God, we do not understand the purposes and the plans of God in order to govern and guide our prayers. ”

2. Prayer is grounded in God’s will

“If God has a purpose, His people identify with His will”

3. Prayer is characterized by fervency. Verse 3 tells us that Daniel “fixed his gaze on the Lord God.” He fasted, without food, in sackcloth an dashes, all cultural indicators of humility. Verse 20 indicates he’s been praying for a long time, so that Gabriel has to touch him to let him know he’s there.

4. Prayer is realized in self-denial. Verse 4: “I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession.” Understand that you don’t belong in the presence of God.

5. Prayer is identified with God’s people. Daniel says “we” throughout the prayer, identifying himself with others, with his fellow Israelites.

6. Prayer is strengthened in confession.

7. Prayer is dependent on God’s character. In verse 4 he prays “O Lord, the great and awesome God.”

8. Prayer consummates in God’s glory. Daniel says in verse 19, “Your people have become a reproach to You.” In other words, don’t do it for us, do it for You. Don’t do what you promised because of us, but do it for Your sake, for Your great name and Your reputation.

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