Time is one of the most precious things we have and we most people guard it better than they guard money or even their health. We all want more time and there never seems to be enough of it so when anything takes time away from us we usually seem to get upset. If you ask people they will tell you how busy they are and how they do not have time to meet or to serve because they are afraid that there might be something better they can do with their time rather than giving to others. Time cannot be stored for another day so we all try to manage it so that we do not waste it. With that being said there is research that shows that the average worker will waste two hours a day while on the job. The average American will watch five hours of television each day not realizing they are wasting precious time on things that do not matter.
Daniel was a man who knew how to spend his time even though he was sought after by most of the kings he had to be under. He knew that if he was going to be the person God wanted him to be then he was going to have to prioritize his time correctly. Daniel knew where use his time that would gain the most reward.
Read Daniel 9:1-3
“I, Daniel understood from the scriptures”
1) Time in God’s Word
Daniel was reading Gods word when he discovered a prophecy about the children of God that caught his attention. Daniel knew that time in God’s Word was never a wasted time and by his careful observation Daniel discovered more of the plans of God.
God warned His children that if they did not repent and stop worshiping false idols that He was going to allow another country to come invade them and take them captive.
Jeremiah 25:11-12 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste.
Daniel was one of the ones who was taken captive so he knew the date of when that took place and how long he had been serving in Babylon and so he knew that the punishment that the children of God were under should be ending soon. Daniel believed the prophecy that Jeremiah proclaimed and so his actions were a reflection of what was about to happen. God’s Word has never been proven wrong and although people continually say that the Bible is a bunch of fairy tails and made up stories there is not one incident that would prove the Bible untrue.
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
God’s Word will last for all eternity but many times I focus my time and attention on things that are not good uses of my time.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Daniel was a ruling official who had to constantly look for direction and answers among pagan Kings in a pagan world and We need to be in God’s word every day for the same reason. So many people want their lives to count but they do not spend time in Gods word which will guide them to have their lives count.
Spending time in God’s Word is not a matter of time it is a matter of priority.We always find time to do the things we really want to do. We can be super busy but if we want to watch a sporting event or a television show we seem to always find time to do so. If you would spend more time in God’s word you would see that your life would change dramatically for the better. Not just being a better person but the fact that God Himself uses His word (The Bible) to speak to us directly.
Read Daniel 9:4
2) Time in Prayer
So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition in fasting and in sackcloth
Daniel went straight to God and he did it when it would have been the time that the sacrifices would have normally been taking place. Being captives in a foreign land they were no longer afforded the opportunity to make the sacrifices that they were commanded to make. Daniel used his prayer life as a sacrifice to the Lord something that we can do as well.
Psalm 141:1-2 O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! says that prayer is a spiritual sacrifice to God
In the Old Testament they made sacrifices to God as a symbol of the ultimate sacrifice that came through Jesus Christ. But the sacrifices we can make are taking time to do His will and even prayer which we do because of our gratefulness for all He has done for us.
Since Jesus Christ died on the cross we get to go straight into the presence of God because Jesus is the one who is going to God on our behalf. We were not worthy to appear before God but Jesus made us worthy so each person who has decided to follow Jesus has access directly to God.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, ( See Also Hebrews 9:11-28 and Acts 4:12 )
Daniel prayed because Daniel did not know all the answers to what he was reading. Daniel knew that God had made a prophecy through the prophet Jeremiah and he went to God to seek out what exactly it all meant. Many times we seek other peoples advice rather than going straight to God for answers.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Daniel was praying about things that were revealed to him in scripture and not just things that he thought he wanted or that he thought were good. We have to immerse ourselves in God’s word so that we know how to pray and so that we know we are praying God’s will.
A) Prayer focused on the greatness of God
We rush into God’s presence and ask for things without worshiping Him first. Not only do we waste time on many things we waste time thinking about a lot of things that do not compare to how great and awesome our God is. We worry about things and what the future holds and we get concerned because we do not spend time thinking about our God and how Great, powerful, loving and merciful He is.
When is the last time you took the time to focus on the attributes of God?
We also spend so much time asking God to take care of things while forgetting who we are talking with. The word Awesome comes from the Hebrew root word for fear. It means one who inspires fear, wonder, and admiration. There are 150 references to the fear of God in the Bible. When we pray we must remember who God is because some people talk to God as if He is their private genie and not the God of the universe. Yes we can approach the throne of God with confidence but we should not do it haphazardly. (Hebrews 4:16)
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Read Daniel 9:5-15
B) Prayer of Repentance for yourself and your nation
Sin is missing the mark. God is Holy and perfect and we are not and so no one, no good they are compared to others, can match up to the perfection of God.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Daniel knew that not only did the nation disobey God but that he also was not perfect and needed God’s forgiveness. In Daniels plea to God he makes sure he includes himself in the sins that the nation has committed. In Daniel chapter six we learned that Daniel’s co-workers could find no wrong in him. Daniel was an upstanding man with no faults that could be seen by people but Daniel knew God knows his heart and the sins he committed that no one else saw.
WE have turned away from your laws and commands (V5) WE have not listened to your servants the prophets (V6) WE are covered with Shame (V7) WE have sinned against you (V8) WE have rebelled (V9) WE have not obeyed the Lord our God (V10) WE have sinned against you (V11) WE have not turned from our sins (V13)
Until we get our perspective on God correct we will not get our view of sin correct. We take sin lightly because we take God lightly. Daniel did not take God lightly and he knew that the sins he committed were just as offensive to God as the idol worshipers and adulterers of his day.
Done wrong” in Hebrews means to bend or twist.
Daniel knew that many people were bending or twisting the word of God to make it fit their lifestyle instead of their lifestyle fitting the word of God. Daniels people compromised their beliefs before they were placed in a foreign land and they continued to bend their beliefs because they were in a foreign land. Daniel was begging God on behalf of his people for God to forgive their sins.
Repentance is not a feeling, it is not crying, it is not even saying you are sorry, although that can be part of it, repentance is a change in direction. Every sin, no matter how small you think it is, is rebellion toward God. Daniel did not excuse himself from being a wrong doer and throughout the plea for forgiveness included himself as if he was one of the worse perpetrators.
We tend to excuse our behavior based on the fact that others sin worse or at least differently than we do. We tend to distant ourselves from the worse sinners and blame them for the punishment that God pours out on our nation rather than seeing our own sin and asking God to forgive it. Matthew chapter seven is clear that we are to fix our own sin before we confront the sin in our brother. In America we have made Christianity individualistic instead of seeing our lives connected as children of God. The church is to be one body (1 Corinthians 12) and we are to take on the sins of our brothers as if they are our own. Daniel prayed to God as if every sin that was committed by God’s people was done by Daniel himself.
How would you life change if you saw yourself as the worse sinner there is? How would your view of your fellow man change if you saw your sin as being just as bad as theirs?
If Christians want to change our Nation we have to see ourselves as being a part of the idol worshipers, adulterers and the murderers and ask God to heal us and our land.
Daniel makes a plea to God who brought His children out of Egypt and the reason Daniel wanted God to restore His children was for the purpose of God’s name being made Great. When people call themselves Christians their lives will either hurt God’s reputation or it will cause it to be dishonored. Daniel knew that God’s name was being mocked because His children were in captivity and His city was in ruins. Daniel wanted God’s name to be great again so the world could see who was the true God.
Read Daniel 9:16-18
C) Prayer for Mercy
Mercy: kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly
Daniel knew that they deserved the punishment they received but asked that God’s anger and wrath would be turned away. Daniel was asking God to forgive those who had caused Daniel, as a young teenager, to be taken captive. Daniels life was turned upside down not because of his actions but the actions of others. Daniel did not deserve the punishment he received and now he is asking God to spare those who were part of the reason he was there in the first place. Daniel ask God to literally bend His ear to Daniels prayer for the sake of the people not because they were righteous but because God was merciful.
Many times when we are punished by God we do not look at our own sin but we blame the people God sent to wake us up to our own sin. In Psalm 137 it tells us that the people focused on praying for the Judgment of God on Babylon instead of repenting of their own sins and praying for Gods mercy for those who did not believe in Him.
Psalm 137:8-9 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us!9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!
Babylon was a tool God used to punish His people and Gods people were mad at Babylon rather than being upset about the sin that caused them to be there in the first place. Too many American Christians are praying for this for those in our government to be judged by God instead of praying for God to save them.Daniel prayed for His nation to be restored and we need to pray that God does the same for our nation through His mercy.
Have you prayed for God to have mercy on those who have caused your life to take a drastic turn?
Read Daniel 9:19
D) Prayer for God’s Glory
Do not delay for your own sake, because your people are called by your name
Listen, hear, forgive and act so your name, oh God will not be made fun of and mocked by those who worship other gods. Daniel knew that people thought God was weak and non-existent because of the captivity of His people and the destruction of the temple. Too many of our prayers are about ourselves and not what is happening to Gods reputation among the people who do not know Him. We are called Christians and our name goes with our Savior so when we act a certain way we are ruining God’s reputation more than our own. Jeremiah 29:10-14 gives us a clue as to what Daniel read and why he prayed so earnestly.
Jeremiah 29:10-14 For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Daniel saw in his study of God’s word that they were to seek and find God with all of their heart in order for God to change their circumstances. Daniel knew that God had plans but not until the punishment was over and His children learned their lesson. We like the part about God having plans for us but we do not like that He will discipline us to get us ready for those plans. God uses circumstances in our lives to change us into the people He desires us to be and so we need to be people of prayer who seek God with all of our hearts.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
God was not waiting for an entire nation to repent in order to act, He is listening for His children as they spend time in His Word and time focusing on Him in order to act on their behalf. We should always pray for God’s will to be done and for God’s name to be made great instead of our will and our names to be glorified.
“Prayer is not getting God to adjust His program to what we want, it is adjusting our lives to the revealed will of God. “ (The Handwriting on the Wall, Dr. David Jeremiah, Pg 157)
Daniel took time to read Gods word and be instructed by it so he knew how to pray. We need to take time to be in God’s word and spend time in prayer seeking Gods will on behalf of our nation, its people and ourselves. Daniel fasted which simply means he gave up something so that he could spend more time focusing on his time in prayer rather than busying himself with food. What are you willing to give up in order to have more time to read God’s Word and to pray?