Prayer and Daniel
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We have for our subject this afternoon the wonderful prayer of the prophet Daniel. There is an impression abroad now that it has always been women and a few weak men who have prayed; but you can scarcely find a bolder or a wiser man than Daniel. He was Prime Minister of that great nation for a long while. He was a wiser ruler and had more influence than any other man living on earth, and yet he was a man of prayer, and was not afraid to pray publicly.
We are told that when he was taken down to Babylon, the great king had a dream, and no man in his realm could interpret it. The king thought of his captive Daniel, and brought him and asked him what it meant. The young man, if he had not believed in God’s power, might have turned away. But he didn’t. He boldly told Nebuchadnezzar what God had written there.
But not only was Daniel a praying man, but he had faith that God would answer his prayers. Some people pray enough, but do not have faith that the Lord will hear them. They are lukewarm. There are a good many people of this sort here to-day. Daniel spoke to God with every confidence of being answered. Look at him when he went down into the den of lions, how he prayed. Prayer was with everything he did.
I think we would have a good deal better government in this country if our rulers prayed more. There would be a good many sneers at first, but the result would be a good government and a wise one.
This man believed in prophecies, too, and I can fancy how the old man’s eyes opened on turning away back to Jeremiah’s writing, seventy years before, and reading: “I will punish them; the young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine,” (Jer. 11:22) and then looking around him and seeing how all the words pronounced had been fulfilled. They disobeyed the Lord.
When they were in Palestine, He [the Lord] said to His people that they must rest on the Sabbath day, but for 490 years they disobeyed God’s command, and the Lord said, “If they won’t do what I want them, I will make them.” So he sent Nebuchadnezzar out after them, and, he captured them, and held them for 70 years. If they would not give the Lord this, he said He would take it, and so if we do not give up what God wants us to, He will not forgive us our sins, but keep us in bondage, and we will never hang our harps upon the willow, or sing the songs of Zion (Psa. 137).
I will just read (Dan. 9:5): “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments.
(Dan. 9:15) “And now, O Lord our God, Thou 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.
(Dan. 9:16) “O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness, I beseech Thee let Thy anger and Thy fury be turned away from the city of Jerusalem, thy holy mountain, because for our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
(Dan. 9:17) “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.”
He had not Christ to pray to like us. Daniel asks: “for the Lord’s sake.” He lived on the other side of Christ and could not, like us, say “for Christ’s sake’. Oh what a power we have in prayer in Jesus. And he goes on:
(Dan. 9:18) “Oh Lord incline Thine ear and hear; open Thine eyes and behold our desolation and the city which is called by Thy name, for we do not present our supplication before Thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies.
(Dan. 9:19) “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God; for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.
(Dan. 9:20) “And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin” –
Mark that – ” And confessing my sin ” –
– “And the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God.
(Dan. 9:21) “Yea, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
(Dan. 9:22) “And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.”
Before he got off his knees Daniel’s message was answered. I don’t know how far heaven is off, but the angel Gabriel, the messenger of God, came to him while he was praying. Think of that. Here was a man who could not look at God for the sins of his people, who only prayed earnestly, and before he was through his prayer was answered, and Gabriel appeared.
We know of only three visits that Gabriel ever made. This one, when he came to bring God’s people to the Promised Land. Daniel was told that God was able to do everything, and the messenger not only told him that the children of Israel were going to the Promised Land, but he let Daniel into the secret of the Messiah’s coming. The second time he came to Zacharias. At first Zacharias doubted him, but he said: “I am he who stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19). And then he came to the young maiden who bore the Christ, and that was the third visit.
There are a great many young Christians in Chicago who have got into the way of the world, who are falling into the way of thinking and believing that God has given over answering prayer. God answers prayers to-day, as readily as He did of old. Infidels and scoffers and scientists may tell us that the world must move along in a certain way, and a Divine answer to a prayer is absurd – the affairs of the world are and always have gone along in a regular way. There were infidels and scoffers, doubtless, in Babylon, who very likely laughed at this answer to the prayer of Daniel.
But we have in this Book a long list of promises to answer prayer, and let us unite in asking God’s blessing on our meetings in Farwell Hall [Chicago], and that the harvest of converts will be abundant. Ask it sincerely and earnestly, and you will see how quick the Lord will come and revive his work in this city.
[As I transcribe this, I am sitting in my office in Chicago – rejoicing that God is still blessing these words with fruit!]