Introduction: This week we turn our attention to a prayer of Daniel –
a hero of the Old Testament. If your life was severely disrupted
when you were a child, you can sympathize with Daniel. His young
life turned lousy when he was taken into captivity by the Babylonians
and dragged away from his homeland. Although he was a captive,
through his faithfulness to God, he rose to become the highest-level
government official. Daniel had such a great reputation that he
remained in power even when his captors were defeated and the
Like the little movie character E.T., Daniel never forgot about
wanting to go home. This week we turn our attention to Daniel’s
prayer to God about going home.
- The Prophecy
- Read Daniel 9:1-2. Let’s figure a minute here. If Daniel
was taken captive by the Babylonians and he is looking at
a 70 year prophecy, about how old is he? (Our lesson says
Daniel is in his eighties.)
- How young was he when he was taken captive?
- How would you like to be a captive all your adult
life? What if you became a captive because of the
sins of someone else – how would you feel?
- Let’s turn to Jeremiah and read part of the prophecy.
Read Jeremiah 29:10-14. What does the prophecy say about
the time of the return to Jerusalem? Do you agree with
Daniel’s understanding about the 70 years?
- Put yourself in Daniel’s place. What do you think went
through his head about returning to Jerusalem when the
Medes defeated the Babylonians – the people who had taken
him into captivity 70 years before? (Note that the
prophecy ( Jeremiah 29:10) keys the captivity to Babylon
(70 years “are completed for Babylon”). Daniel no doubt
thought that the change in power might give his people the
opportunity to be free and return home in accord with the
- Now, a year after the Medes have taken power, you are
still in captivity. What is going through your mind
if you are Daniel? (You are wondering why you are not
- Would you doubt God’s word?
- Look again at Jeremiah 29:12-13. Is this just a time
prophecy? (No! God says that when 70 years are up the
people will seek Him with all their heart. When they
find Him, He will take them home.)
- Is the prophecy conditional upon seeking God?
- How about God’s promises to you? Are they
conditional upon seeking Him?
- The Prayer
- Let’s turn to Daniel’s prayer. Read Daniel 9:3. What do
you think about the way in which Daniel came to God?
- Some people think the way you eat is not important to
faith because Jesus said ( Matthew 15:11) what comes
out of your mouth — and not what goes in – makes you
unclean. Is your diet (or lack of it) important to
- Have you ever fasted in connection with your
- A lot of people think that the way you dress is not
important for church. Is it important for prayer?
- Have you ever prayed in sackcloth and ashes?
(You say you don’t know where they even sell
sackcloth these days!)
- What is the point of fasting, sackcloth and
ashes? What would be the modern equivalent? (I
looked at a lot of texts on fasting and
sackcloth. Fasting and sackcloth seem to
represent the intersection of humility and
mourning. For example, Psalms 35:13-14 plainly
says you humble yourself with fasting. Sackcloth
is unrefined fabric. The other ingredient in
Daniel 9:3 is ashes (dust on the head – Nehemiah
9:1). This combination not only represents
humble dress and appearance, they are
indications of mourning. Matthew 9:14-15.
Fasting, sackcloth and ashes show an extreme
attitude of “smallness” when you come to God.)
- How important to you think fasting and the signs of
distress are to approaching God in prayer?
- Read Daniel 9:4. What do you think about the way Daniel
started out his prayer? (Do I ask this every week or
what?!! Every week we see that this is the way these
great prayers start: praise to God for who He is and not
because of what He has done to answer our prayers.)
- Let’s re-read the second half of verse 4 and read Daniel
9:5-6. As you consider the second half of verse 4, do you
think God’s love is conditional upon your obedience to
Him? If not, how do you explain this language?
- Is there a distinction between His “covenant of love”
and His love? (Yes. Deuteronomy 28-30 sets out the
covenant that God had with His people. Essentially
the covenant is obey and be blessed, disobey and be
harmed. God loves each and every one of us with an
unfailing love. However, sin and disobedience have
consequences. See John 14:21-23 and John 3:16.)
- Notice the confession of sins in these verses in
Daniel. What role does repentance play in our
prayers? (In Matthew 4:17 we see Jesus preaching that
the people should repent because of the kingdom of
heaven was near. Repentance is important to
approaching God. See Luke 13:1-5 for an interesting
discussion about disaster, sin and repentance. Jesus
says the degree of sin does not govern the degree of
suffering. But unrepented sin will kill you.)
- Let’s skip ahead a moment and read Daniel 9:11
because it fits in this discussion. Is this cause and
effect still in place – or under the new covenant are
we free from obedience? (Paul, the great advocate of
the new covenant, was very clear on the importance of
obedience. Read Romans 2:13. You cannot love God and
ignore Him. John 14:15)
- One of the problems with the people ( Daniel 9:6) was
that they did not “listen to the prophets.” What is
today’s equivalent of that sin?
- Read Daniel 9:8-10. Contrast Judah’s attitude toward God
compared with God’s attitude towards Judah. Is it the same
today with us?
- Read Daniel 9:12. What does Daniel mean when he says
nothing was ever done like was done to Jerusalem? (He was
talking about the destruction of God’s temple. The
destruction of the primary visible link between God and
- We recently studied the prayer of Solomon when he
dedicated the temple. How do you explain that God let
the Babylonians destroy His temple — the temple that
King David planned and King Solomon built? Does this
make any sense to you?
- Is there a lesson in this for us?
- Read Daniel 9:17-18. What did we learn two weeks ago with
Elijah – is our God sometimes preoccupied so that He does
not hear us? (No!)
- If God always hears, what is Daniel talking about in
- We spoke earlier about the importance of repentance
and obedience. What does verse 18 tell us about how
our righteous acts get us saved? (Daniel clearly
understood righteousness by faith. We are not saved
because of anything we do. We are saved only because
of God’s great mercy towards us.)
- The Answer
- Read Daniel 9:20-21. It would be easy for Daniel to feel
that God did not care, that He was not paying attention to
His promise to His people. What does this verse show about
God’s care when we turn to Him? (God sends Gabriel to give
Daniel a personal answer!)
- Read Daniel 9:22-23. How quickly does God hear the kind of
prayer that Daniel made?
- Does God want us to understand our difficulties? Does
He want our problems to “make sense?” (He wants us to
trust Him (remember our study of the prayers of Job),
but He also wants us to understand.)
- Read Daniel 9:24-25. Speaking of understanding, we are not
going to try to completely unravel this vision. (Remember,
we are studying prayer and not prophecy here.) What good
things can you understand from this message? (They are
going to have a holy city again! It looks like they will
have their holy city for a whopping 490 years (70×7)!
- Who is the “Anointed One?” (I promised I would not
get into prophecy, but this is important. Gabriel
told Daniel about when Jesus the Messiah would come!)
- What will the Anointed One bring for us? (Verse
24, “everlasting righteousness.”)
- Will God trust us with His important insights
when we turn to Him? (Oh, yes! This text shows
us that God wants to encourage us.)
- Friend, perhaps you are discouraged. Your life has not
been going well. Daniel’s prayer shows us the importance
of repenting and turning to God with our problems. He is
anxious to help and assure us. Will you turn to Him?
- Next Week: Prayer: Listening to Jesus