“O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.” (Daniel 9:18 ESV)
Daniel chapter nine has held me captive now for some weeks. From this chapter a number of points came to me, as follows:
Point 1: Daniel understood something distinct from his reading of the Word;
Point 2: Daniel sought the LORD in prayer, sackcloth, and ashes (v2,3);
Point 3: Daniel put it this way, “speaking, praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people. . .” (v20);
Point 4: Daniel presented petitions to the LORD (v20);
Point 5: G-d answered Daniel.
We have covered the first three points, and now arrive at point four, in which Daniel prays. One might ask how it is that in speaking about intercession it has taken all this time to come to prayer. Let me illustrate.
Some years ago I hopped on my bicycle and rode five or so miles (8 kilometers) out through ranch land where I, at the time, lived. I rode fast. I completed my ride in less than an hour. I was amazed at how easy it was to ride that far, that fast. The last time I’d ridden my bike, several years before, had been such an effort for much less distance. But I was prepared. I’d worked out regularly for over six month, throughout a cold, snowy, northern California winter. Six months of preparation went into that ride.
The same can be said of the songs we hear on the radio. Most are less than four minutes of lyrics and music. But the preparation that goes into each song must be hours and hours.
So briefly, regarding prayer, let’s look together at some scriptural guidance. Y’shuaJesus said, “. . . when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 ESV) Most of the preparations themselves, for intercessory pray, have been in private. We have been warned not to practice our righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. (Matthew 6:1) We don’t want to bring attention to ourselves so that that attention becomes the reward for our work. I’m not saying that all preparations are in secret, without others’ knowledge. But if others are involved, it is to bring attention to our Lord, not to bring attention to ourselves. For our preparations for prayer, and our prayer itself, is for the glory of G-d.
There is an interesting guidance on prayer in First Samuel 12:23 that tells us that as priests of the Most High G-d, we have an obligation to pray. Samuel tells us that not praying is sin. Samuel feels an obligation to teach the people of G-d the good and right way. It is here, in this scripture, that I see the functions of intercessor, prophet, and teacher merging. The lines that separate them blur, and they become one holy priest and vessel of the Lord, for the Lord’s perfect purpose.
In many ways our prayer includes the preparations themselves, including (but certainly not limited to) scripture study, fasting, acknowledgement of sin in confession, repentance (turning away from sin). Intercessory prayer is a bit like a circular path having no beginning and no ending. We walk the path crossing the stones or steps again and again. We see in the scripture, seek G-d for understanding, identify with a people or person, confess our sins and the sins of the people, repent. We are informed by G-d, though His Spirit and with confidence present His words to Him.
Finally, one last thought on prayer from Paul’s letter to the Roman Church. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27 ESV)
And as we walk that circular path of intercessory prayer, we know that God hears and answers. Point Five in Daniel The Intercessor is simply: “G-d answers.” Period.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine upon you and through you all your days on Earth. And let us meet together in Heaven with our Lord, that we may raise our hands, cast our crowns at His feet together, you and I, as we worship our G-d, our King. AMEN.