Praying Through the Bible #93
TEXT: Daniel 9:1-8
Early last month, I had the privilege of driving with my family from Texas to Virginia for the graduation of my oldest daughter at Liberty University. As we traveled there, we had to drive across numerous bridges over bodies of water — some big bridges, some small bridges — but we had to cross the bridges in order to get to our destination. The purpose of a bridge is to close a gap between one point and another. If you have ever crossed a bridge before, then you already know what it means to “stand in the gap,” you already know what it means to be an intercessor.
You see, a bridge is used to get people from where they are to where they want to be or ought to be. The bridge closes the gap between where you are now and where you need to be. In a spiritual sense, that is the job of an intercessor. An intercessor stands in the gap for those who are separated from God either because of their sins or because of the fact that they do not know God. Through prayer, an intercessor brings the lives, the needs, and the desires of people to God. An intercessor provide a direct link to God for those who are unable or unwilling to stand on their own.
In our passage today, we see Daniel as an intercessor for his people, Israel. Daniel, along with his people, is in exile in Babylon. It has been almost 70 years since the exile begun and Daniel is moved to prayer after he reads Jeremiah’s prophecies which indicate that the exile is nearing its end. Even though Daniel was a righteous man himself and had a good relationship with God, he takes it upon himself to stand in the gap and to bridge the space between God and his people as he lifts up his nation in prayer.
I want us to notice three things tonight about Daniel’s prayer because now, more than ever, our nation is in need of intercessors — people of God — who will stand in the gap like Daniel did and lift up our people in prayer.
1. Daniel took time to prepare to pray. Verse 3 reads, “I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” Before he interceded for his people, Daniel went through a process of spiritual preparation. He fasted, mourned, put on sackcloth (a sign of mourning), and read and studied God’s Word.
2. Daniel kept in mind God’s awesomeness and faithfulness. Verse 4 shows us that Daniel begins his prayer by focusing on the majesty and sovereignty of God. He says, “I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments.” Daniel draws near to God but is mindful of whose presence he is entering. He calls God, “the great and dreadful God.” Daniel shows respect, reverence, and fear.
3. Daniel openly confessed that his people had sinned. Verse 5 reads, “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments…” We live in a society where shifting the blame has become the norm. People do not want to take responsibility for their own actions. We like to place the blame on parents, teachers, spouses, the government, the church, or other people. No one wants to stand up and say, ‘I have sinned’, not even to God.
As we pray for our churches, our communities, our families, and our nation, we would be wise to take the same approach as Daniel did. We must first prepare our hearts by fasting, studying God’s Word, and observing the condition of those for whom we pray. Then, we should keep in mind that God is awesome, faithful, and righteous and we should approach Him as such. Then we can move into a period of open, honest confession, identifying ourselves with the people, and admitting our sinfulness before God.
Today, our society which has turned far away from God needs people who will stand in the gap. The question is, are you willing to do what it takes to stand in the gap?