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“Praying with


Daniel” By Emily Woodard, Women’s Ministries Spiritual Life Chair


same lesson: that the Most High rules the kingdom of men, and that God’s dominion is everlasting (4:17 and 7:14). Along with the ultimately comforting message of the sovereignty of God over all the affairs of mankind, the chapters also teach the blessings of knowing that sovereign God personally and savingly (Sinclair Ferguson, Daniel, 171). In the first half, we see that God gave Daniel favor in the eyes of the Babylo-


T


nians (1:1), he gave Daniel and his friends learning and skill (1:17), he revealed mysteries to Daniel (1:17; 2:19; 4:19-27; 5:17), he was with Daniel’s friends who were thrown into the fiery furnace (3:25), and he shut the mouths of the lions who threatened Daniel (6:22). In the second half, though Daniel is often alarmed and confused by his


dreams and visions (7:15, 19, 28; 8:15, 27), God helps him understand the mys- teries and, most importantly, confirms to him that his prayers are heard and that he is greatly loved (9:23; 10:12, 19). Chapters 1-6 show the blessing of God to his people displayed in vivid stories, but chapters 7-12 become more intimate as the blessing of God is revealed in Daniel’s own spiritual experiences. In chap- ter 9 especially, the reader meets Daniel on a very intimate and spiritual level, through his prayer. Daniel is the brave captive who refused food from the king’s table, the wiseman who interpreted dreams and handwriting, the one who had survived the den of lions, but in chapter 9, we meet Daniel as he turns his face to God and in so doing we “discover the secret of his usefulness in God’s king- dom: he was a man of prayer” (Ferguson, 172). The teaching on prayer that Scripture provides us is not just found in Jesus


instructing his disciples how to pray and in the book of Psalms, it is also found in the examples of the prayers of men like Daniel. Chapter 6 teaches us that Daniel made a habit of daily prayer and that he was committed to it despite threats of death (6:7-10), and in chapter 9 Daniel’s prayer is recorded for us that we might learn and benefit from it. Daniel not only had the help of the Holy Spirit as he prayed (as we do, Romans 8:26-27), he was carried along by the Holy Spirit as he recorded the inspired words of God (2 Peter 1:21). How does Daniel help us learn to pray?


Responding to the Knowledge of God


Prayer is sometimes defined as ‘talking to God,’ but a downside of that sim- plified definition is that we can get the idea that we are the ones who initiate


20


he book of Daniel contains a fascinating mix of historical narrative (chapters 1-6) and apocalyptic dreams and visions (chapters 7-12). The two halves of the book, even with their different genres, teach us the


the conversation. In actuality, when we talk to God in prayer, we are re- sponding to One who has spoken first to us. Our God is one who has revealed Himself to us, both gener- ally through creation (Ps. 19:1; Rom. 1:20), and specially through the Scrip- tures and ultimately through His Son (Heb. 1:1). Timothy Keller, in his book Prayer,


defines prayer as “a personal, com- municative response to the knowl- edge of God” (45). Daniel’s prayer models this responsive communica- tion in a number of ways. First of all, Daniel responds to God’s revelation by addressing him with his revealed covenant name Yahweh, or LORD, in our English translations (9:4, 10, 13). Daniel also refers to God with words that God used of himself—the God “who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Deuter- onomy 7:9 and Daniel 9:4). Through- out the prayer, Daniel indicates his familiarity with the revelation of God’s holy character and will as he references his “commandments and rules” (v.5), “laws” (v. 10), and the “Law of Moses” (vs. 11, 13). Verse 11 also mentions the “curse and oath,” referring to the covenant relationship between God and his people, anoth- er way that Daniel responds to the knowledge of God in his prayer (Dale Ralph Davis, The Message of Daniel, 117-118). Finally, Daniel refers to the acts of God in redemptive history. God is a God who reveals himself through his saving acts on behalf of his people (Exodus 6:6-8), and Daniel responds to this knowledge by refer- ring to God as the one who brought his people “out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand” (v. 15). So Daniel responds in prayer to the


revelation of who God is, what He is like, what He has done, and how He relates to His people. Notice also that he is moved to prayer specifically by what he reads in “the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet” (Dan. 9:2) (Iain Duguid, Daniel, 149). It ap- pears that Daniel has been reading Jeremiah 25:8-12 and 29:10-11 and has


The Associate Reformed Presbyterian


Women’s Ministries


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