Prayer that Matters
TEXT: Daniel 9:1-23
TOPIC: Prayer That Matters
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
January 18, 2009
Thus far over the first Sundays of January 2009 we have been looking at the subject of prayer. Our church ministry budget calls us to make the request of the early disciples who asked the Lord Jesus to “teach us to pray.” Last Sunday we looked at six keys to effective prayer. This morning I am preaching on the subject “Prayer That Matters.” So if you have your bible turn to Daniel 9. (Read Daniel 9:1-23)
Most of us remember the prophecies of Daniel for his intriguing dreams and visions, or his amazing prophesies many of which are yet to be fulfilled. But it is the astounding prayer life of this man called Daniel that arrests my attention. This prayer offered in the 9th chapter of Daniel is actually a culmination of a life of prayer. Daniel asked for a prayer meeting to learn the dream of Nebuchadnezzar at the beginning of the book, and he is a man of prayer throughout the book.
The prayer in this chapter actually provides us the pattern of Daniel’s prayer life and acquaints us with the conditions of prayer. What I want us to discover this morning is the basic elements of Prayer that Matters.
1. PRAYER THAT MATTERS INVOLVES PURPOSEFUL PLANNING. Daniel 9:3
Prayer was no haphazard matter with Daniel. He wrote, “Then I set my face upon the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes” (v. 3). Prayer was not just a repetition of idle words or the putting together of pretty phrases with flowery grammar. The Lord Jesus said, “But when we pray, we are not to use vain or meaningless repetitions. He went on to say that is the way people who do not know God pray. “For they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). Such is not real prayer.
God is listening for praying that impacts, prayer that matters. Sincere, heartfelt, urgent, and real prayer involves purposeful planning. Daniel didn’t just wake up one morning and say “I think I’ll fast and pray today in sackcloth and ashes.” He planned his prayer time. It involved “setting his face toward God, seeking God by prayer, supplication, fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”
2. PRAYER THAT MATTERS INCLUDES PAINFUL PERFORMANCE. Daniel 9:3
Daniel prayed with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. This was not done for outward show but to reveal the sincerity of his heart. One doesn’t see many prayer meetings like that today.
May I ask you a spiritual question? When was the last time you fasted? I admit to you that it has been too long for me.
When was the last time you humbled yourself (sackcloth and ashes), in abject brokenness, humility, nothingness and poured out your soul to God about anything?
The Prophet Joel called for praying that matters including painful performance. He called for a solemn assembly to fast and pray. Listen to Joel 1:12, “14Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,”
In Joel 2, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?”
3. PRAYER THAT MATTERS ALSO INCLUDES PERFECT PLAINNESS. Daniel 9:4ff.
Daniel was candid and straightforward in his confession. He got right down to business with God.
Begin reading at Daniel 9:4 – 20.
4. PRAYER THAT MATTERS INSINUATES POWERFUL PETITION. Daniel 9:20-23
“At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved;” v. 23
Daniel received an answer while he was speaking and praying. The angel Gabriel appeared to him to give him some explanation. This man got answers to his prayers. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14).
5. PRAYER THAT MATTERS INITIALLY IS PERSONAL AND PRIVATE. Daniel 9:20
“Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God,
Daniel did not call a public prayer meeting; he prayed privately. This prayer Daniel prayed is only three minutes’ duration. Our Lord often prayed privately. His prayer which is recorded in John 17 is also three minutes long. There are many of us who want to call a public prayer meeting when we ought to spend more time in private prayer.
6. PRAYER THAT MATTERS PENETRATES, Daniel 9:21
“Yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.”
Prayer is the only force that has penetrated outer space to the throne of God. Sir Isaac Newton said that he could take up a telescope and look at the nearest star, but he could put down the telescope, get down on his knees and penetrate the outer heavens to the very throne of God.
Prayer for Daniel was a real exercise of soul in spiritual travail. Such prayer is arduous work. It requires effort and endurance and suffering.
Do you have such a prayer life? Do your prayers matter? Would you be willing to commit today to developing the kind of prayer life that matters?