Why do you think, from a spiritual level, prayer is so controversial? My guess is because Satan knows it's so powerful.
He knows that prayer, if you are engaged in it regularly, spells his demise, his defeat, his power, his strength in your life, so he'll do anything he can to keep you from it. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip examines why prayer is so controversial and what it signals about Satan's understanding of its power. But first, if you want to stay up to date on the latest from this ministry and from Skip, we invite you to follow Skip on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You'll find important announcements and great encouragement from Skip.
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Okay, we're turning to Daniel Nye for today's study with Skip. You're aware that prayer is a very controversial thing to get involved in. Whether it's prayer in schools or prayer in public assemblies, it has become so controversial. In fact, I would add and say that prayer has been controversial in our country ever since the Revolutionary War. One of the reasons we are a nation is that we rebelled against the tyranny of a government in Great Britain that wanted to curtail our freedom to worship and to pray according to the dictates of our own heart, and so we left that.
We rebelled against that, and we formed one nation under God. But prayer is still very controversial, and the controversy lies specifically in the use of a certain name in prayer, and that would be the name of Jesus Christ. When our friend Franklin Graham prayed at a presidential inauguration, and he closed the prayer predictably in the strong name of Jesus Christ, people were upset. How dare he pray in the name of Jesus? Well, if you want the prayer to actually work, that's what you do. But one leader went so far as to say, praying in the name of Jesus is like pouring gasoline on a fire.
That's the kind of public furor that it will create. So it's interesting that according to U.S. News and World Report, Dan Gilgoff wrote an article saying that the White House wants to remedy that, and they are insisting now that all public rallies that include prayer that are on a national level must first be approved, commissioned by the White House, and vetted by the White House. That is, all of the prayers have to be seen in advance and edited according to policy. So now the government wants to tell us how to pray and how not to pray.
Sounds an awful lot like Great Britain, what we rebelled against to begin with. A few days ago, the Washington Post carried an article about a high school graduation and one student who offered a public prayer in that place. It was controversial, as expected. An atheist student who incidentally did not even attend the prayer, he walked out for the prayer, was all upset. The prayer was only a minute and a half, it was not really controversial, it was very benign, did not include the name of Jesus, but the student who is an atheist regarded that as religious bullying. Okay, I understand that not everybody agrees on this topic, but I simply say all that to introduce the topic and the text today because we're dealing with a prophet, Daniel, who is also facing similar controversial circumstances. In fact, the whole reason he got put in the lion's den was because of his prayer. A law was passed, it was a politically correct environment in Daniel's time, where you couldn't pray to any god except the king. He violated that on purpose, opened his windows toward Jerusalem, and he prayed, and he got put in jail for it.
Now I have a question for you. Why do you think, from a spiritual level, prayer is so controversial? My guess is because Satan knows it's so powerful. He knows that prayer, if you are engaged in prayer, if you are engaged in it regularly, spells his demise, his defeat, his power, his strength in your life, so he'll do anything he can to keep you from it. Our problem is, we typically engage in prayer only when the bombs are falling and the crisis is happening. We're sort of like the Costa Rican tomato frog.
There's a frog in the jungles of Costa Rica that is bright red like a tomato, and when it's attacked by a predator, it exudes this milky white poison all over its skin, so that when the animal that is attacking gets the frog in its mouth and tastes the poison, he'll spit it out, but the damage has already been done to the frog, and typically that amphibian will just die. Too little, too late. We often pray like that after Satan has attacked and the damage is done. So we're going to look at Daniel chapter 9. We're going to begin in verse 3 and take it down to verse about verse 19, which comprises the prayer of Daniel, and it happens to be for us one of the greatest models in the Old Testament of what true effective communication with God is all about. Of course, the greatest model prayer in all of the Bible is what Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I'm saying it in the Old King James because that's how I was taught it. That's the model prayer. But what's interesting about the prayer you and I are about to look at a little more carefully this week is that some of those same elements, in fact, most of those elements that Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord's Prayer are present in Daniel's Prayer. You see, this is a prayer with balance. It's not all petition, I need, I want, give me, help me.
It's not all praise. It's a balance of several things, and I'm going to give you four things, four things. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said that prayer is the rope that you pull down below so that the great bell rings up above in the ears of God.
Keep that in mind. It's a rope, and I want to give you four strands that should be a part of the rope that you pull when you are ringing that bell in the ears of God. I want to give you four strands that should be a part of the rope that you pull when you are ringing that bell in the ears of God.
But let's read through the text, and then we'll go through it. Daniel chapter 9 verse 3. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make requests by prayer and supplications with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and I made confession, and I said, God, who keeps his covenant and mercy with those who love him and with those who keep his commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity. We have done wickedly and rebelled even by departing from your precepts and your judgments.
Neither have we heeded your servants, the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers, and all the people of the land. Oh Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but to us, shame a face as it is this day. To the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those near and those far off, in all the countries to which you have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against you. Oh Lord, to us belong shame a face to our kings, princes, fathers, because we've sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants, the prophets.
Yes, all Israel has transgressed your law, has departed so as not to obey your voice. Therefore, the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we've sinned against him. And he has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our judges, who judged us by bringing upon us great disaster, for under the whole heaven, such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, and we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand your truth. Therefore, the Lord has kept the disaster in mind and brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which he does, though we have not obeyed his voice. And now, oh Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with the mighty hand and made yourself a name, as it is this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. Oh Lord, according to all your righteousness, I pray, let your anger, your fury, be turned away from your holy city, your holy mountain, because for our sins and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now, therefore, our God, hear the prayer of your servant and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause your face to shine on your sanctuary which is desolate. Oh my God, incline your ear and hear, open your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by your name, for we do not present our supplications before you because of our righteous deeds, but because of your great mercies. Oh Lord, hear. Oh Lord, forgive. Oh Lord, listen and act.
Do not delay for your own sake, my God, for your city and your people are called by your name. There's four strands to this rope that we pull on to ring that bell. And the first strand, it's in your worship folder, is humble adoration, humble adoration. Notice in verse four, Daniel says, I pray to the Lord my God. Daniel begins by recognizing to whom he is talking.
He's not talking to a friend, he's not talking to King Darius, he's talking to the king of kings. And it's important that when you're praying you recognize, I'm saying this to God because I actually believe it's possible to pray to yourself. You're not really talking to God. You're praying and you're saying, well how does that sound?
That sounds pretty good. Well I hope they like what I just said and agree with it. You remember in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus gave a parable about prayer and he said, two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. And the Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, Lord I thank you that I'm not like other men, especially like this tax collector. He prayed that out loud, but he was really praying to himself. So R.A. Torrey writes, we should never utter one syllable in prayer in public or private until we're definitely conscious that we are coming into the presence of God and actually praying to him. And here's why it's important that you recognize to whom you're talking. It gives you the needed perspective.
See we come to God so overwhelmed sometimes with our problems and the issues and it's reflected, Lord this is really hard. I know this sounds impossible. What? You're talking to somebody who doesn't have the word in his vocabulary. Example that has always been helpful to me is, I'm looking at you right now. I'm looking at a large group of people, a large crowd, and I mean that not individually, but corporately. It's a big mass I'm looking at. But I have a little object in my hand, a Bible, which is capable of by perspective pushing you away and you're out of my sight. If I do this, I cannot see you. Now if I were to push this Bible back into the crowd and I would see its size in comparison to you, it wouldn't look that big.
But when I push it really close to my eyes, it blocks everything else out. We often come with our problems to God right here. That's where they are.
They're right here. I can't see anything but my issue, my little horizon, my problems. But then when I say, Oh Lord, you are God. I'm talking to the Lord God.
It pushes my problems out into the right perspective. And I see them in the light of who He is. In scripture, there's an example of that. Acts chapter 4, a law goes out.
The early church cannot speak the name of Jesus publicly. And so the persecution hits. It looks like the program of Jesus is going to shut down until they pray.
And this is what they say. Lord, you are God. You made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that's in it. Why did they bother with all of that in their prayer?
Because they wanted to get this whole thing in the right perspective. We are talking to the Creator, the all powerful One. Oh, and by the way, we have this little issue we want you to attend to. It's pushing us out into the light of God. It's pushing us out into the light of God.
Oh, and by the way, we have this little issue we want you to attend to. It's pushing the problem back out into the perspective of the majesty of God. That's why the Jews, when they pray, they begin their prayers typically like this, Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam. Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the universe. That's who we're talking to, King of the universe.
So Daniel begins that way. I prayed to the Lord, my God. Look what he says in verse 4. Look what he calls him. Oh, Lord, great and awesome God. That's humble adoration.
It means great in magnitude, great in importance. As he continues in his prayer in verse 7, he says the Lord is righteous. That is, God always does what is right, never makes a mistake.
You never if he's blown it or done something wrong, he's always right. In verse 9, he calls him merciful and forgiving. In verse 14, he acknowledges his power, his might.
In verse 15, he says he's made a name for himself. So when he prays, he uses adoring terms, honoring God's character and praising God's name. That's how Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord's Prayer, right? And when you pray, say, our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
And that's how Daniel does it. He prays. Frankly, I think too little time is spent in our prayers with adoration. So much of our prayer is self-focused. Adoration forces your eyes above the horizon of human difficulties and your own issues and lets you get that right perspective and see things clearly. For so many people, prayer is like an aspirin.
Well, take two of these every four hours for three days. Pray twice a day for three days. Or God is something like an emergency room. You know he's out there and you know the prayer is kind of good to do and it's probably good to talk to him every now and then, but you don't until a huge issue comes your way and sort of like you're driven to the emergency room, then suddenly it's like, oh God. For others, prayer is sort of like a first-class hotel. They believe in a theology that says I can name it and I can claim it and I can tell God to do this and I can command God's power by my words and so they sort of see God as the bellhop in a nice hotel.
They just call room service or like dial toll-free, claim it, and get your blessing today. But prayer begins with humble adoration. Look at it like this. When we communicate with God, there's a progress that we ought to be making the longer we know him. A mature progress in communication. When you were a baby, you know what your first word was?
I do. What was it? Can you say it? What? Wah. Somebody just said wah. I think it was more like wah. I don't think you did wah.
If you did, you were like the coolest baby ever. But that was your first word. It was a cry.
That's all you knew when you wanted your bottle. It was not wah but wah. You got your mom's attention. She fed you. You needed your diaper changed.
It was wah. Okay, not really great communication skills yet. But then your parents said use your words, right? And so you use your words and your words were I want that. I need that.
A little bit of an improvement from the wah but not really much. But as you grew older, you learned to communicate differently so that when you became an adult, your communication with your parents was far different. In the latter years when my parents were alive, when I called them on the phone, I never once said I need, I want, give me this, give me that.
It was always how are you doing? How can I help you? How can I be a blessing to you? That's mature communication. So it is with prayer.
As you become mature, you get more concerned with this. I'm just in God's presence. It's a humble adoration. Dwight L. Moody, the great evangelist, had a little child. He was busy preparing for a speaking tour and he was in his study preoccupied with his books and his messages and his little eight-year-old son came in and sat there and Moody said what do you want?
He said I don't want anything, Daddy. I just want to be where you are. And I think there's something to that in prayer. Lord, I just want to be where you are. You are great. You are awesome. I'm talking to you.
I'm hanging with you. So humble adoration is the first strand. Here's the second one. Honest confession. That needs to be a strand of the rope that you pull when you talk to God.
Honest confession. Beginning in verse 5 all the way down to verse 15. It's the longest section of this prayer which we've already read. It's a confession. It's Daniel saying we've blown it. I'm sorry. We've done this.
We've acted wickedly over and over again. He goes through the history of the nation of Israel from the times of the kings and the prophets and shows how they have repeatedly disobeyed God's voice. It's been said that the six most important words in human relations are I admit that I was wrong. They're the most important words.
They're also the hardest to say. But here is Daniel saying them to God. And when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, did he not tell them that confession was a necessary part of that? Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Incidentally, have you ever noticed that when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he taught them to use the plural, not the singular?
He never said. Now when you pray, say, my Father in heaven, forgive me, give me this day my daily bread. It was always us, we, our, the plural. He wants you to realize that you're a part of something bigger than just you.
You're part of we. And what's fascinating is that's how Daniel prays here. In this prayer, 16 times he uses the word we, 17 times the word our, 9 times the word us.
In total, 42 personal words. In other words, Daniel isn't like aloof from his people, like I am the prophet and they have really sinned and I'm praying for them because they're bad and they're wicked. He said, I'm a part of the problem. Forgive us. He included himself in it.
Sometimes we like to point our fingers at sinners. Daniel locked arms with them, held hands with them, said, I am in this with you guys. I'm a part of this. That concludes Skip Heitzig's message from the series I Dare You. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Right now, we want to share about a special resource that will help you make your marriage stronger and more fun. Great marriages are made, not born. God wants you to have a strong, thriving, and fun marriage. The Marriage Devotional, 52 Days to Strengthen the Soul of Your Marriage by Levi and Jenny Lesko is designed to help your marriage not just survive, but thrive. You want to understand God's secret, the secret for fruit in your marriage, in your family, in your parenting. If you feel overwhelmed because your marriage is a long way from where you feel like it should be, or if you feel discouraged and excluded today because divorce is in your story, and here you see God's plan for flourishing, and you've disqualified yourself because of what's in your past, let me tell you something.
God never shames you for your past. He always fights for your future, and flourishing and fruitfulness can be your reality. We want to send you a copy of this encouraging resource as thanks for your gift today to support Connect with Skip Heitzig and help expand this teaching ministry to more major cities in the US in 2023. So request your copy when you give today and get the encouragement you need for your marriage to flourish. The vine has been given the tools to continue to grow, and I love this, and I want this vision in your mind. I want this vision in your heart. If you're empty nesters, if you've been married for four years, I want you to have this vision, young people, that you don't have to fear a marriage getting stale. You don't have to fear getting trapped into something.
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That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Tomorrow, Skip wraps up his message on prayer with a challenge for you to pray often with all the elements of effective prayer. So you see, effective prayer has God's interests in mind, the glory of God.
So get it. Daniel looks upward, adoration, inward, confession, outward, petition, and then he closes his prayer upward again. It's full circle. He ends where he begins. He began with God and adoration. He ends with God in giving him glory. And again, is that not how Jesus taught us to pray? Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-20 15:47:36 / 2023-02-20 15:57:26 / 10