Preaching a Prayer (part 12 of preaching through Daniel)

praying

Daniel 9:1-19 might be one of the easiest assignments if you’re planning to preach through Daniel. It records Daniel’s lengthy prayer.

All through this series of blog posts, I’ve been hoping that some of the strategies for preaching through Daniel will help you when you’re preaching through other books that contain similar genres. So, for instance, there are many other prayers recorded in the Old and New Testaments. Here are some things to think through when preaching a prayer.

  • What’s the situation that causes the person to pray? In Daniel 9 Daniel has learned “the number of years that…must pass before the end…namely seventy years” (v. 2). Things are going to remain messy or God’s people for quite a while.
  • What kind of God are we praying to? Cf. vv. 1-2, 4, 7a, 9a, 12, 14a, 15a for a description of our God. Daniel’s prayer is a great opportunity to teach our congregants a mini-course in Theology Proper.
  • What kind of people are we? Quite the opposite. Cf. 3, 5-6, 7b, 8, 9b-11, 13, 14b, 15b. Look closely at how I’ve listed the verse divisions and you’ll see that Daniel’s prayer contrasts God with God’s people. God’s character and our condition prepare us for our petition.
  • The only logical thing to ask: “O Lord, hear; O Lord forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake…” (v. 19).

You might ask your congregants how often they need to pray such a prayer. What do you think they’d say?

Another vital question when preaching on any prayer in the Bible is, “Did God answer that prayer?” or “How is it possible that God could answer that prayer?” This accomplishes two things. First, it forces us all to ask ourselves whether we will respond to the Word of God (think about Paul’s prayers and ask whether or not God answered them; it will depend on whether Paul’s readers responded favorably to his teaching). Second, that question inevitably teaches about Christ-crucified, God’s Gift that provides forgiveness. God’s people broke the covenant agreement, but Christ kept it for us as we are spirit-led (cf. Romans 8:1-4).

Anyway, enjoy preaching the easy part of Daniel 9. Next up, the infamous “seventy weeks.” Yikes! We don’t have a prayer!

Preach well for the sake of God’s glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

Two Angles in which to Explore Offensive Commandments

I just recently completed preaching through Isaiah. Before beginning another through-the-Book study, I am spending several weekends on God and the Life He Gives. The short series will highlight key characteristics of God and also key aspects of living the Christian life. A proper study of the Christian life involves studying the God who grants it. At times, we struggle with God’s kind of life because we do not understand Him and His character.

Take, for instance, God’s difficult instructions to Hagar in Genesis 16:9. Why would God tell Hagar to return and submit to a woman, Sarai, who was dealing harshly with her (cf. Genesis 16:6). What kind of God would instruct a female servant to return to an abusive mistress? The answer is a God who has determined to save the powerless and afflicted. This concept applies equally to instructions in 1 Peter 2:13-14. See also 1 Peter 2:18 and 1 Peter 3:1. God is a God who saves those who depend on Him or rely on Him alone.

Another angle on this is to ask what it is about the nature of our salvation that would warrant such an instruction. In this case of Hagar submitting to Sarai, salvation, by nature, involves being delivered in the midst of a terrible environment (as opposed to being delivered out of a terrible situation). Saving faith involves dependence upon God, the opposite of taking matters into one’s own hand (in this case, taking matters into her own hands would be Hagar not returning and submitting to Sarai).

You might find yourself in conversations where someone asks, “Should so-and-so submit to that?!?” In other words, the particular circumstance seemingly cancels out the biblical instruction. Before you attempt to answer that specific scenario, try taking the person through these two angles: (1)What is it about God that He would require such actions? (2) What is it about the nature of salvation that would require such actions?