Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How To Increase Intimacy, 2of2

~ The Answer Might Surprise You! ~

In part one we looked at what George Mueller—a man famous for living a life of faith. In this post we look at the life of Daniel—a man renowned for his prayer life. We could learn a lot from Daniel. “The prayer of the upright is God’s delight” (Proverbs 15:8b).

Pray the Word of God  ~  We should pray in light of the Word of God and about the Word of God as we read. “In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem”
(Daniel 9:2).

Pray in Humility and with Seriousness  ~  The Word of God causes an attitude of humility and seriousness in prayer. “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3, also see 2 Chronicles 7:14).

Pray with the Right Foundation  ~  The Word of God has provided a foundation to prepare us for supplication. This preparation occurs through confession. “And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day — to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You. O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You’” (Daniel 9:4-8). 

Pray with Compassion and Forgiveness  ~  The Word of God causes us to see God in His compassion and forgiveness. “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets” (Daniel 9:9-10, see also Lamentations 3:22-23).

See the Work of God the Father as You Pray  ~  The Word of God causes us to see the loving discipline of God as our Father. “Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him” (Daniel 9:11). 

Marvel at the Character of God as You Pray  ~  The Word of God causes us to marvel at the attributes of God (i.e., righteous and immutable). “And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day — we have sinned, we have done wickedly!” (Daniel 9:12-15). 

Prepare Yourself before Petitioning God in Prayer  ~  The Word of God prepares us to petition our God and Father (Daniel 9:16-19). Notice four things in this passage.

(1) Daniel calls upon God to remove His wrath from Jerusalem. “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us” (verse 16). Daniel does this on the basis of God's Righteousness.

(2) Daniel implores God to listen favorably to his request that the the Jerusalem temple no longer lie desolate. “Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate” (verse 17). Daniel does this on the basis of the Lord's sake! Daniel was more concerned about the Lord than about Israel or himself.

(3) Daniel commands God to hear and see how bad the destruction of Jerusalem was and the desolations of the Israelites. “O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies” (verse18). Daniel’s basis for this action is God's Compassion.

(4) Daniel calls upon God to hear, forgive, act, and not delay! “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name’ (verse19). This time the basis for Daniel’s action is based upon God's person (it is for His sake) and upon the fact that Israel and Jerusalem are called by His name. Today “Christians” are called by His name.

Summary  ~  The challenge from Daniel is seems clear. The Word of God is foundational for any prayer. God delights in those who pray according to His character and His revelation in the Word of God. The prayer of the upright is God's delight.

(The concepts above are largely taken from the book Celebrating The Word; Earl D. Radmacher and the staff at Western Seminary, Chapter 12 by Dr. Ralph H. Alexander)

The Overall Conclusions  ~  (1) The most foundational way to increase intimacy with God is to spend more time in the Word of God. (2) If we pray on the basis of God’s character and the Word of God He will answer. (3) The Living Word and the written Word of God go hand in hand. I like to say that while the Word of God is of equal importance with Prayer and Obedience the Word of God is the “first among equals” or if you prefer “more equal” when it comes to increasing intimacy with your heavenly Father. 

Interestingly we find that George Mueller—a man famous for living a life of faith and the Biblical character Daniel—a man renowned for his prayer life both found that their source of intimacy was time with God in the Word of God.   

~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW

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