Father, Teach Us to Pray!

April 17, 2023
Bruce Hulshizer

Our Father, we recognize before You that we need You to teach us to pray. We would like to excel as people who pray. Thank You for Your Scriptures that give us such rich motivating truths about prayer. Please grant that these divine realities would reach our hearts by the power of your Spirit and have a transformative effect. Teach us just now from Daniel 9 and 10 that:

Praying is more powerful than military forces or political activities.

Empires conquered each other (Dan. 10:1) and kings would fight and conspire for years to come (Dan. 11), but Daniel’s praying touched the real battlefield in the heavenly places. So also, does ours as we pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:10-20). Daniel’s persisting in mournful prayer for 3 weeks (10:2) parallels 21 days of spiritual warfare touching the nations and their rulers (10:12-13). It is true that Persia had conquered Babylon, but what really mattered was how this would open the way for God’s “desolate sanctuary” (9:17) to be restored for His name’s sake (9:19). Daniel begged God to act as he perceived what really mattered in current events. Some exiles had returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 1), and Daniel, who was too old to return, was with them in spirit with his windows open toward Jerusalem (6:10). Surely, he longed that the temple would be rebuilt as he had prayed a couple years earlier (Dan. 9). The timing of his praying in the third year of Cyrus in the first month from the third to twenty-fourth days (10:1, 4) may mean he also was longing that the people would celebrate the Passover for God’s pleasure, for it was to occur in the first month on the fourteenth day (Lev. 23:5; Ezra 6:19). Strengthen us to grasp that praying is the most powerful thing we can do.

A person who pleads with God for God’s concerns is precious to God.

Three times Daniel is told that he is precious (greatly beloved; treasured), and all of these times are when he is fervently pleading with God about God’s concerns (9:21; 10:11, 10:19). As the Lord heard Daniel’s pleading, it moved His heart, and He rejoiced in having a companion who longed for what He longed for. How Daniel’s heart longed that the sweet aroma of the evening offering (9:21) would at last ascend again to the Lord’s nostrils. He passionately prayed for what would bring God pleasure. What a delight his words must have been to God. God may have heard Daniel like Joseph heard Judah when he at last fervently begged for his lord to act in grace for the well-being of his father and brother (Gen. 44:33-34), and Joseph couldn’t contain himself any longer (Gen. 45:1-2). How precious Judah must have been to Joseph in that moment. Strengthen us to be those whom our Father hears pleading, bringing tears of joy to His eyes as He sees that we deeply desire what He desires!
Father, strengthen us as we aim to imitate Daniel’s example, being devoted to Your interests such that praying becomes essential living to us. Help us to have praying that is:

A Persistent, Passionate Priority

Pray in response to crisis (Dan. 2) but also as a persistent priority in life. Daniel prayed 3 times a day (6:10) across 7 decades (Dan. 2 as a teen until Dan. 10 as an old man) including intense, focused times such as 3 full weeks of passionate mourning when the people were back in the land to rebuild the temple (Dan. 10). May our praying be fervent.

Perceptive of God’s Plans and Pleasure

With eyes of faith, he looked out the window towards Jerusalem and saw God’s name dishonored as people reproachfully looked at the Lord’s people (9:16). May we perceive what touches God’s reputation and pray earnestly about it. May we see what would bring God joy and then urge God to bring it about! Daniel’s praying in chapter 9 was spurred by his reading the Scriptures (in Jeremiah). His prayer overflowed from grasping God’s revealed will. He called on God to do what God said He wanted to do. What a great way to pray! How helpful it is when our praying is based on God’s Word (His revealed purposes), God’s Character (His person), and God’s Reputation (His name associated with His people and interests here). What confidence this gives us as we address our God! May our praying have the aroma of desiring and perceiving God’s will.

Personal and Precious

Daniel completely identified with the people, including confessing “we” have sinned (9:5), having a heart wrapped up with God’s people and interests. He reminds himself and God of who God is—“great and awesome” (9:4), capable of working and also of “keeping covenant and mercy.” He should be interested to work because He is personally connected with the people. As Daniel engages God’s heart by His words, no wonder God finds him precious and gives him further insight into His plans. This type of praying is contagious for two centuries later we hear Nehemiah praying like this (Neh. 1). No wonder that God chooses to use a man with such a heart for His interests to rebuild the city that had been revealed to Daniel (9:24-25). Does God hear me praying like this? May our praying show hearts personally engaged with God’s heart.

Profitable and Powerful

Though the “sound” of the words of the man clothed in linen left Daniel on his face with no strength (10:8), yet Daniel’s words were also powerful! “Your words were heard” (10:12). How marvelous that is! “I have come in response to your words” (10:12). How overwhelmingly wonderful! Prayer moves the hand that moves the world. May we by faith see our praying affecting heavenly activities.

Father, help us enjoy the privilege of a real, vital fellowship with You. May You hear our voices often! May our prayers be personal yet corporate, humble yet confident, passionate and specific. Keep encouraging us to pray “without ceasing,” persisting for weeks and even decades, day after day. May our continual, fervent praying be contagious even to saints in future generations. Give us eyes to see from Your perspective so that we have hearts concerned for what interests You. Give us nostrils to smell what pleases You.

Oh Father, make us a delight to You by developing us as ones who plead with You to do what Your heart longs to do. Grant each one of us grace to perceive what would further Your revealed desires in the situations You have allowed in our lives and service, and then to persistently pray for You to accomplish it.

A brief YouTube recording on Daniel’s praying is available on YouTube