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
government changed.

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.

  1. The Prophecy

    1. 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.)

      1. How young was he when he was taken captive?

      2. 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?

    2. 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?

    3. 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

      1. 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

        1. Would you doubt God’s word?

      2. 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.)

        1. Is the prophecy conditional upon seeking God?

          1. How about God’s promises to you? Are they
            conditional upon seeking Him?

  2. The Prayer

    1. Let’s turn to Daniel’s prayer. Read Daniel 9:3. What do
      you think about the way in which Daniel came to God?

      1. 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

        1. Have you ever fasted in connection with your

      2. A lot of people think that the way you dress is not
        important for church. Is it important for prayer?

        1. Have you ever prayed in sackcloth and ashes?
          (You say you don’t know where they even sell
          sackcloth these days!)

        2. 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.)

      3. How important to you think fasting and the signs of
        distress are to approaching God in prayer?

    2. 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.)

    3. 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?

      1. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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)

      3. 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?

    1. 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?

    2. 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

      1. 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?

        1. Is there a lesson in this for us?

    3. 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!)

      1. If God always hears, what is Daniel talking about in
        verse 17?

      2. 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.)

  1. The Answer

    1. 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!)

    2. Read Daniel 9:22-23. How quickly does God hear the kind of
      prayer that Daniel made?

      1. 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.)

    3. 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)!

      1. 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!)

        1. What will the Anointed One bring for us? (Verse
          24, “everlasting righteousness.”)

        2. 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.)

    4. 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?

  2. Next Week: Prayer: Listening to Jesus