1217 L08-A Prayer for an Obedient Faith

A Prayer for an Obedient Faith

January 21 • Bible Study Guide 8

Bible Background • DANIEL 9:1–19
Printed Text • DANIEL 9:4–8, 15–19 | Devotional Reading • PSALM 130

Aim for Change

By the end of this lesson we will: VALIDATE Daniel’s prayer of confession; RELATE to the need for Daniel’s type of prayer today; and PRAY as Daniel prayed.

In Focus

Tina was a young mother. She worked hard and was intentional about being the best mom possible for her children. Tina was committed to providing nutritious meals and limiting unhealthy snacks and excessive sugar. She read to her children frequently, tempered consistent discipline with overwhelming love, and sacrificed to send her toddlers to the best preschool she could afford.
One Thursday, Tina went to pick her children up from school and discovered her four-year-old was sitting in isolation. She was in disbelief when the teacher explained that her daughter got upset after losing a game and pushed another child out of his seat. As a result, the other child fell and hit his head. Tina was disappointed with her daughter’s behavior, but she also felt a personal sense of guilt and shame.
Tina understood that even well-behaved children acted out from time to time. She talked to her daughter about pushing and took away her favorite toy, but for some reason she just couldn’t sleep that night. She began to pray for her daughter and poured out her heart before the Lord. The next morning, Tina arrived at her daughter’s school early and waited for the other child’s parent to arrive. Tina apologized to the parent and the small child for her daughter’s behavior and instantly felt better.
In today’s lesson, we will examine the role of confession and intercessory prayer. When have you seen God move powerfully in answer to intercessory prayer?

Keep in Mind

“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name” (Daniel 9:19).

Words You Should Know

A. Righteousness (Daniel 9:7) tsedaqah (Heb.)—Acting according to God’s standard conviction.
B. Trespass (v. 7) ma‘al (Heb.)—Unfaithfulness, transgression.

Teacher Preparation
Unifying Principle—A Cry for Help.
People want release from feelings of shame that may result from past mistakes. Where can they go to find such relief? Daniel prayed to the Lord a prayer of confession, seeking forgiveness, mercy, and strength to obey.
A. Think about prayers you have prayed and how those prayers and the concept of prayer affect your life.
B. Pray for your preparation and individuals who will attend.
C. Complete the Precepts For Living® Study Guide to better understand Daniel’s prayer.

O—Open the Lesson
A. Introduce the lesson title.
B. Have students read the Aim for Change and Keep in Mind sections silently.
C. Ask for a volunteer to read In Focus and then discuss as a class.

P—Present the Scriptures
A. Ask participants to follow along as you read the Focal Verses aloud.
B. Utilize The People, Places, and Times; Background; Search the Scriptures; At-A-Glance; In Depth; and More Light on the Text as you see fit to provide clarity and possible talking points for discussions.

E—Explore the Meaning
A. Divide the class into groups to complete the Lesson in Our Society. Come back together and discuss as a class.
B. Have participants complete Discuss the Meaning individually. Ask for a few volunteers to share their responses.

N—Next Steps for Application
A. Instruct participants to complete Make It Happen as an individual. Do not ask them to share answers; the exercise is for personal reflection.
B. Ask each student to share one take-away idea they may have from the lesson.
C. Close in prayer.

Worship Guide

For the Superintendent or Teacher
Theme: A Prayer for an Obedient Faith
Song: “Sweet Hour of Prayer”
Devotional Reading: Psalm 130

Daily Bible Readings

MONDAY
Plea for God’s Forgiveness and Mercy
(Nehemiah 1:4–11)

TUESDAY
Disobedience Results in Israel’s Downfall
(Jeremiah 25:8–14)

WEDNESDAY
A Renewed Call to Repentance
(Joel 1:13–20)

THURSDAY
Seeking Answers Through Prayer 
and Supplication
(Daniel 9:1–3)

FRIDAY
Prayer of Confession for Israel’s Sins
(Daniel 9:9–14)

SATURDAY
Receiving Answers to Prayer and Confession
(Daniel 9:20–24)

SUNDAY
Daniel’s Prayer of Confession 
and Supplication
(Daniel 9:4–8, 15–19)

KJV

Daniel 9:4 And 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;
5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7 O LORD, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 O LORD, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

NLT

Daniel 9:4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.
5 But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations.
6 We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.
7 Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you.
8 O LORD, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.
15 O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by rescuing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. But we have sinned and are full of wickedness.
16 In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.
17 O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.
18 O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.
19 O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.”

The People, Places, and Times

Israel and Judah. Israel is a term that takes on different meanings progressively throughout the Bible. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with an angel all night. Israel means, “he strives with God” (Genesis 32:28, 35:10). The collective name of the twelve tribes that were his descendants was also called Israel. Depending on the period, the name “Israel” also refers to the entire nation (the entire twelve tribes), or solely to the Northern Kingdom.
The Southern Kingdom became known as Judah. The book of Joshua details how the land of Canaan was divided among the descendants of Jacob, also known as the twelve tribes, one of which was Judah. This tribe—along with the tribe of Benjamin—became the Kingdom of Judah centuries later when the Northern tribes rejected Solomon’s son as king. Judah was located in the southern part of the Israelites’ territory.
Babylonian Captivity. This is the period in biblical history when the people of Judah were defeated and taken away by the powerful nation of Babylonia. Following a yearlong siege, the capital city of Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 587 BC. The actual deportation of the people of Judah took place in three waves, with the last occurring in 582 BC. The Bible implies that the captives were resettled in a single area, which allowed them to continue to practice their religion and culture.
What significance does your place of birth have on your life and the image people create about you?

Background

Daniel means “God is my judge,” which is consistent with the actions and visions that unfold throughout the book. The book’s purpose is to strengthen and encourage the Jews who were under pressure to compromise or abandon their religion. The book includes Daniel’s account of his time in the king’s court and his visions. Chapters one through six present God’s interventions in a variety of circumstances—interpreting dreams, rescuing the Hebrew boys from the fiery furnace, writing on the banquet wall, and delivering Daniel in a den of lions.
Chapters seven through twelve are considered apocalyptic; they contain revelations about destruction or the end of time. Daniel is complicated because he presents faithfulness and allegiance even while in exile or living in luxury (depending on how you look at it). He foresees further doom for the Israelites, only to end with a message of hope and the Messianic promise. Daniel is an example that God’s people can live in a hostile environment and still remain faithful to God.
In what way might you be under pressure and need to be strengthened or encouraged?

At-A-Glance

1. A Word Went Out (Daniel 9:4)
2. Communal Confession (vv. 5–8)
3. Please, God (vv. 15–19)

In Depth

1. A Word Went Out (Daniel 9:4)
The entire book of Daniel is a testament to individual faith, and this prayer is a continuation of that faith. Daniel’s prayer is ultimately rooted in the belief that God will remain faithful to the Children of Israel because of the covenant. Daniel’s prayer was not a simple statement of, “Sorry, Lord. I did it.” Instead, Daniel poured out his heart before God. He first acknowledged God’s right to exact punishment for the sins committed against Him. Then he confessed for himself and his people. In addition, Daniel confessed to God, who was a covenant keeper and a giver of mercy. Through their entire period of sin and judgment, God had never failed His people. No matter how many times they forgot God, He had never forgotten them.
When you pray, do you believe by faith that God will answer?

2. Communal Confession (vv. 5–8)
Verses five and six are a confession of Israel’s misdeeds and sinful nature. Repentance requires acknowledgment and confession. Daniel presents the nation’s sins to God. The Hebrew people had openly rebelled against God and incurred His wrath. They disobeyed His Law and wandered from His precepts. They had willfully refused to yield to God’s servants, the prophets who had spoken on His behalf. He names them individually, but there is no indication that Daniel himself engaged in any of these sins. Although he resided in Jerusalem prior to exile, Daniel prayed for all of Israel, both the Northern and Southern kingdoms, who were divided during this time (v. 7). He recognizes that the entire nation is judged by God.
Why is it good to confess our sins and pray for our nation?

3. Please, God (vv. 15–19)
Daniel’s supplication is a true example of intercessory prayer. He pleaded with God to spare the nation. The foundation of his request was not rooted in what the people deserved, but in God’s forgiveness. It was in his service to God that Daniel appealed to God to hear his petition and supplications. He begged the Lord three times in three different ways to listen (vv. 17–19). Daniel asked the Lord not only to listen, but also to act. Immediately following the prayer, God responded. The vision Daniel received was not one of hope, but a sign that God was present, listening, and responding. Daniel’s prayers and supplications are marvelous examples of how we are to take our petitions to God. We must not blame Him or others. We must come before God acknowledging our own sins and plead for forgiveness, because the failure is not in Him, but in us.
When was the last time you dedicated quality time for praying to God?

Search the Scriptures

1. In addition to praying to God, what else did Daniel say he did (Daniel 9:4)?
2. Why were the Israelites far off in various countries (v. 7)?

Discuss the Meaning
The structure of Daniel’s prayer consisted of two parts: confession and supplication. Confession means admitting and agreeing with God that sin is sin. Supplication is making a request or appeal. How did Daniel utilize each of these elements in his communication with God? How do confession and supplication work together when we pray?

Lesson in Our Society
Modern culture has taught us to approach almost everything from an individual perspective, while the Bible overwhelmingly supports a communal outlook and interconnectedness. This is very similar to the African worldview of ubuntu. Instead of Decartes’ cogito ergo sum (“I think therefore I am”), ubuntu says, “I am what I am because of who we all are.” This kind of communal outlook was with our ancestors from the very beginning.
Consider the following questions in light of the biblical and African communal outlook. In multiple ways, do communities (whether ethnic, geographic, religious, countries, etc.) sin and suffer together? If so, is communal repentance needed today? Ultimately, we are responsible for the actions of the community.
If we view our world as God does, what would we conclude is needed for our nation?

Make It Happen
Crying out to God in intercessory prayer is one of the most effective ways to act in faith.
• Make a list of people/communities that need your intercession.
• Think about the last time you cried out to God.
• Write down how you felt afterward.

Follow the Spirit
What God wants me to do:
______________________________________
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Remember Your Thoughts
Special insights I have learned:
______________________________________
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More Light on the Text

Daniel 9:4–8, 15–19
4 And 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;
On the outside Daniel was covered in sackcloth and ashes—symbols of his sorrowful spirit. On the inside, he was truly repentant and sought God’s mercy as one of many who had transgressed God’s Law. Daniel called upon Jehovah Elohim. The word used for “Lord” in this case is the Hebrew word Yahweh, the national name for God which declares Jehovah to be the self-existent and eternal God. This word recognizes that God is the Creator of all things and that by Him all things exist. Jehovah is self-existent—He has always been and was not created—and all-powerful.
This righteous man acknowledged his own need for God’s forgiveness for his transgressions of God’s laws. The Hebrew term for “confession,” yadah (yah-DAH), means “to show oneself as guilty.”
Daniel acknowledged that the sin of his people was his sin. He did not attempt to say that the deeds prophesied by Jeremiah were committed by a previous generation. He did not put himself above other Hebrews by reminding God of how he personally had been faithful all the days of his captivity. He had refused the king’s food, denied the unjust laws forbidding prayer, and faced the lions’ den; however, Daniel knew that those showed God’s power, not his own righteousness. God had delivered, and Daniel was humbled by His mercy.
Again Daniel addressed God as “Lord, the great and dreadful.” In Hebrew, “great” is gadol (gah-DOLE), which means “large in magnitude and extent.” With this word, Daniel admitted that the God of Judah is larger than Judah itself. God’s power and majesty extend far beyond the boundaries of the holy city, Jerusalem. There in Persia, the capital city of a foreign land, God’s power was felt. Furthermore, Daniel called God “dreadful” (Heb. yare’, yah-RAY), which means to inspire or cause fear and awe. God is to be held in awe and revered by all people. His might is so great that He must be given the honor due His name. God had kept the covenant with Israel through their exile, His faithfulness endured even though Israel was unfaithful.
Daniel’s own life had shown that God was faithful. As Daniel tried to serve Him in a strange land, he found that God was present. Daniel was not alone in this. The Hebrew boys who had been thrown into the furnace were witnesses as well. But Daniel’s confession of God’s merciful grace goes beyond even those few. God’s faithfulness had been demonstrated to their fathers—from Adam to Noah, from Abraham to Jacob, through the judges and the prophets, God had been faithful.

5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: 6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
Daniel confessed that the Children of Israel were covenant breakers. Through their own fault, God had punished them by allowing them to go into bondage to the Babylonians. Because of their sin, the punishment had continued upon their children for multiple generations. In all of this, God was blameless. He had been merciful toward them. The Hebrew people could blame no one but themselves and could turn to no one but the Lord.
In addition, all the captive Israelites had committed “iniquity” (Heb. ‘avah, ah-VAH), which is closely related to words meaning twist, distort, and pervert. They had perverted God’s Law and had done wrong before Him. They had twisted His edicts and failed to follow His will in His way. To further show how they did not follow God’s directives, Daniel said that the people “have done wickedly.” This phrase in Hebrew is rasha‘ (rah-SHAH), and it means “to condemn as guilty” and “to act wickedly,” referring to their unethical and irreligious acts. Daniel has no doubt in his mind that God was just in condemning the idolatry and unfaithfulness of His people.
The Hebrew word shama‘ (shah-MAH), translated “hearkened,” means that the people had not heard or been obedient to God’s Word. To shama‘ means to listen with the intention of obeying, to pay strict attention to what is said, and then to yield to the will of the one who gives direction. Daniel knew that as the people and nation walked in sin, they broke their covenant relationship with a Holy God. They had refused to listen and obey God or hear God’s prophets. These spokesmen had warned them again and again that departing from His precepts and judgments would kindle the hot anger of Almighty God and He would punish them. They had no excuse for their disobedience because the prophets spoke to their kings, princes, forefathers, and all the people of the land.
But the people and their leaders failed to listen; they would not hear nor heed. Consequently, they had to suffer the consequences of their disobedience—captivity again! Their history had revealed God’s deliverance from Egypt, but their actions had caused them to be placed under the thumb of oppressors while their places of worship and their homes were destroyed and their children were led away to other lands.

7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. 8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
Daniel again acknowledged God as his Lord. He recognized the righteous attributes of the God he served. Daniel admitted to God that He was right in His punishment of Israel. He had dealt righteously with His people. They, on the other hand, were the possessors of “confusion” (Heb. boshet, BO-shet), or in modern wording “shame.” Because of Israel’s disobedience, their faces were covered with shame, while God’s glory is righteous.
Daniel also confessed that the people of Judah, Jerusalem, and all Israel, scattered far and near, were to bear the shame of being in captivity. Daniel knew they were scattered because of their own disobedience in breaking of God’s covenant. God would not tolerate their disloyalty. Neither did God merit their unfaithfulness to Him; He had been too good to the Israelites.
15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 O LORD, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
Daniel continues to pray and mentions the act of God bringing Israel from Egyptian bondage. He also speaks of God’s renown (Heb. shem, SHAYM), which means “name” but in this context refers to His name and the fame that accompanies it. In contrast to God’s deliverance and renown among the nations, Daniel speaks of the people’s sinfulness. Because of the people’s sins, Jerusalem and the people of Israel have become a reproach (Heb. cherpah, KER-pa), which means a taunt or scorn of an enemy. In this sense, the stigma and shame of such taunts rest on Israel.

17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
Here Daniel pleads with God as he cries out to the Lord because of his deep concern for the nation and the city of Jerusalem. Here is where God had placed His sanctuary! Daniel reminded Elohim that Israel was His special possession. The nation was God’s chosen people, elected by Him to be representatives of His power and glory to the rest of the world. God had ordained them to be an example of His power to other nations.
Daniel also pleaded with God to hear his prayer, the prayer of His servant. The phrase “of thy servant” means bondsman or slave in Hebrew. Daniel again acknowledged that he was a servant who served as a prophet or spokesman of the Most High God. Daniel was interceding from the position of a servant of God.
Daniel asked the Lord, for His own sake, to smile again on His Temple. The Temple at Jerusalem had been foreshadowed by the tabernacle in the wilderness; it had been promised to David, then built by Solomon. The Temple was destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem and then sat desolate, a mockery to the power of God. The word used for “sanctuary” is the Hebrew word miqdash (meek-DOSH), which refers to the sacred or holy place of worship. In essence, Daniel asked God to restore His holy Temple in Jerusalem, His “sacred place,” so that all people would know His name and His power.

18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
Daniel asked God to do three things: to “incline” (Heb. natah, nah-TAH) His ear, to “open” (Heb. paqakh, pah-KAKH) His eyes, and to “behold” (Heb. ra’ah, rah-AH) the desolation. Daniel asked Almighty God to extend or stretch His ear to hear his petitions for the people and the nation. He begged God to open His eyes so He could be vigilant. He wanted God to fully observe and care for the pressing situation of His chosen people, to see their wretchedness, and to see Jerusalem in ruin.
Since Daniel was the intercessor for the Israelites, he told God that he and the people were not asking because they deserved His help. In fact, Daniel and the nation knew they deserved God’s wrath and punishment. But Daniel asked God for help because He is merciful. Daniel acknowledged that God is a God of great compassion. Even though God judges sin, He still shows mercy to those who love Him and are faithful to Him.

19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
Finally Daniel, in making intercession for the Israelites and the nation, begged God to forgive the people and the nation. The Hebrew word for “forgive” is salakh (saw-LAKH), which comes from a root word meaning of lightness or lifting up. Daniel asked God to pardon the people individually and the nation collectively for their sin. Daniel came in prayer to his God with a broken and contrite heart and a repentant spirit. He did not come before God trying to make excuses or to place blame. Daniel knew that the omniscient and omnipresent God knew the full extent of their transgressions and disobedience; therefore, Daniel wanted God to hear his pleas and act on their behalf.
Daniel wanted God to make things right, to put things back together again. He wanted God to put Jerusalem and the Temple back in order. The urgency of Daniel’s prayer is that he asked God not to defer (Heb. ’achar, ah-KHAR) or delay this work. Daniel wanted God to answer his prayer quickly. He realized that the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah were almost up, and he knew that the sins of the people were still counted against them.
It was not, however, for selfish reasons that Daniel wanted God’s swift reconciliation. He wanted God to set things right “for thine own sake, O my God.” In other words, since the Children of Israel were God’s own special possessions, Daniel reminded God that His mercy was needed for His own glory, for the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple, for the return of the city and the people called by God’s name. Once more Daniel reminded God that the Israelites were elected by Him; they were His chosen people. Daniel presents a wonderful example of intercession. He recognized God’s response was rooted in God’s mercy because Israel had sinned against God while God always remains faithful.

Say It Correctly

Hearkened. HAR-kend.
Desolate. DEH-so-let.

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