Sermon: Praying as Exiles
Summary: We as God’s people, since we belong to the Kingdom of Heaven and are not of this world, pray as exiles in this world. This means we need to pray with humble awareness of God’s word so that we can understand who we are and our God given purpose in this world.
Text: Dan 9:1-19
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:15-19
1. First time I prayed, I remember using words I don’t use in normal conversation
a. I even used thee and thou. I don’t any more
b. That is how I heard other people praying
c. But… Not sure the big words are a bad thing
i. I think part of it was a sense of extreme respect and honor
ii. When talking to God, we call in prayer
iii. We don’t call talking to any one else “prayer”
2. Today’s lesson focuses on prayer
a. In the middle of all of these apocalyptic visions and prophesies is a prayer
b. It is included here for our instruction and encouragement
3. I asked – what does this teach us about praying in exile?
a. Reminded that we also our exiles and strangers
b. Lesson: We should pray with humble awareness.
c. Things to be aware of as we pray in exile….
I. Of the Scriptures (Dan 9:1-2)
A. What prompted Jeremiah to pray – scriptures, Jeremiah 29
1. Jer 29:11 – Many people put on graduation invitations “11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
2. Context: (Jer 29:4-11) 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,[a] 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord. 10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
a. Contrast to Hananiah, false prophet in chapter 28
1) Hananiah opposed Jeremiah’s message of impending exile
2) When exile happened, Hananiah prophesied that God had broken the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar and the exiles would return in TWO YEARS!
3) Hopeful message – don’t get comfortable, leaving soon
b. Jeremiah, God’s prophet, said the opposite
1) Get comfortable – live there, work there, raise families
2) Pray for welfare of the king (even though he is pagan)
3) But don’t get too comfortable – not permanent home
4) Seventy years, I will fulfill my word and bring you back
c. For I know the plans I have for you – God still has plan!
4. Scripture reminded Daniel that God has a plan
B. Scripture also needs to prompt us to pray as well
1. Like Daniel, we also are exiles on this earth – how to pray….
a. (1 Tim 2:1-6) 1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
b. Like God told Daniel, pray for those in authority
c. Purpose – So that we can lead peaceful, quiet, godly life and help people come to knowledge of the truth/Gospel & be save
2. Like Daniel, we need to focus on God’s will in our prayers
a. (1 Jn 5:14) 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
1) How to you know what God’s will is?
2) Only way is through scripture
3) What is his will?...
b. (1 Jn 3:21-23) 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
1) He hears because we keep his commandments & please him
2) Commandment includes – to believe/faith in his son Jesus
3) Commandment includes – love one another
a) If you do not love, you do not know God
b) This will hinder your prayers
c) (1 Pet 3:7) 7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
d) Struck me years ago – how I treat my wife can hinder my prayers and my relationship with God
4) If we do not do this, he will not hear our prayers!
3. 1 Peter 3:12 - 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
C. ILL: Many people have written books about this topic
1. Some of the titles: Praying through the scriptures, Praying the Scripture: An introduction to Lectio Divina, Praying the Scriptures for Your Life, Praying the Scriptures for your Teen, Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, Praying the Bible, Praying the Bible Into Your Life, Praying God’s Promises, Praying God’s Word, Praying the Psalms, Praying through the Names of God, Praying the Gospels, Praying with Jesus, etc. etc. etc.
2. All of these titles remind us of the nature of prayer
a. Prayer is not a one way street
b. God communicates to us through his word
c. We communicate with God through prayer
d. Need both
D. How do you do this? Not complicated – Read and pray
1. When you read, communicate with God as you read
2. After you are done, keep a posture of listening to God through the day
3. When your prayer is informed by awareness of scripture, can do the next two things….
II. Of our Character (Dan 9:3-11)
A. Daniel does not try to make excuses or explain it away
B. Daniel pled for mercy in sackcloth and ashes, and confessed
1. We have sinned, done wrong, rebelled, disobeyed your laws
a. Guilty of not letting indentured slaves go free at end of term
b. Guilty of charging interest when making loans to kinsmen
c. Guilty of bribery, exploiting the poor and helpless, price gouging the poor who couldn’t resist
d. Guilty of idolatry, sexual sin in name of religion, adultery, mistreating their wives, breaking up families
2. We have not listened to your servants, the prophets
a. God sent his servants, the faithful prophets to warn them
b. God warned them for generations through the prophets
c. People’s response – persecution, put in prison, killing
d. Instead, people accumulated false prophets who soothed and encouraged the people in their sin
3. To you Lord belongs righteousness, but to us belong open shame
a. Daniel did not try to diminish guilt and shame that came along with it
b. Daniel owned it, no question it was deserved
1) God gave ample warnings over a long period of time
2) People didn’t just ignore the message, but silenced it
4. This not unusual, says something about human nature:
a. (Rom 3:10-12) - 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
b. (Eph 2:3) were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b]
C. ILL: When we sin, it alters us to the core of our being
1. ILL: Reminds me of going to theater – put on “popcorn shirt”
a. Since we sit in recliners, popcorn falls on shirt
b. That oil does not come out, permanently stained
c. That is what sin does – permanent stain on your heart
2. Sin becomes part of our nature
a. We become, by nature – children of wrath
b. No matter how hard you wash, you cannot get it out
c. All you can do is try to cover it up
3. King David understood this after he sinned with Bathsheba
a. He thought he could cover it up, but he couldn’t
b. Notice Psalm 51 after confronted with his sins
1) 51 Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin! …
2) 3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
3) 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
c. David could no longer hide the depth of his depravity
4. Should be a reminder – If man like David capable, we ALL are
D. Daniel and David both understood the character of man
1. Did not try to make excuses
2. Cannot take care of it all by yourself
3. Only when you confess, take it to God, honest, can there be forgiveness and transformation. . .
III. Of God’s Character
A. Started off by acknowledging God as the
1. Great and awesome God
a. When God speaks, the earth thunders
b. God has more power than a thousand suns
2. Who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments
a. Even though they have been faithless, God kept his covenant
b. But God took away his blessing for a time due to sin
c. But God does not do so permanently
3. To you, Lord, belongs righteousness
a. God is righteous in all that he does
b. Even when God withdraws his blessing due to sin
B. Daniel goes on and acknowledges God’s righteousness (Dan 9:12-19)
1. God confirmed his word and brought great calamity
a. God’s word brought all creation into existence
b. When God says he will raise up a nation against his own people due to their sin, it will happen
c. People did not believe it at first - this does not change his word
1) God warned them, but nothing happened at first
2) Why did nothing happen? God giving time to repent
d. We need to understand it is still true today
1) Bible warns us Jesus will return and all will be destroyed
2) No more second chances after that
3) Hasn’t happened YET – God giving time for repentance
4) God says it is coming, and it WILL come
2. God has made a name for himself
a. God made a “name” for himself by his mighty acts against Pharaoh
b. God’s name is a strong tower, it is holy, true, just
c. But God’s people had profaned his name by their continued sin
3. God’s anger can turn away due to mercy and grace
a. According to all your righteous acts, let your anger and wrath turn away
b. Elsewhere in scripture – it is also according to his mercy, according to his steadfast/covenant love he turns away his wrath
c. It is NOT by our goodness, not even by being sorry, but his mercy
4. God acts for his own sake, which winds up for our good
a. More than once, Daniel pleads with God to act for God’s own sake and his own name
b. Wouldn’t you think Daniel would pray for himself????
c. Why pray like this?
1) Only makes sense if you know God
2) If God is good, then it is good when his name is magnified
3) When God puts everything into place for his good name, then all is well!
C. One way to sum it all up – God is Holy Holy Holy
1. See the holy ones in his throne room worshipping him, never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy” is the Lord of Hosts
2. Ever wondered what that sounded like to Isaiah, or to John?
a. Jimmy Allen read it loud
b. Songs like Agnus Dei put it to music and it repeats
c. Some of both? Beautiful and terrifying at the same time?
3. God different than us – higher, better, purer, stronger, than any
a. His wrath/anger is holy – Not from flesh, he is right to be angry
b. His word is holy – So we listen carefully, and obey
c. His love is holy – It is higher, deeper and wider than any other
D. How to remember all this in prayer?
1. Helps if spend enough time in scripture.
2. Prayers of the Bible also help to model this
3. Sometimes, when saying a prayer, good to declare these things
a. Address God as Our “Heavenly” Father (our Holy Father)
b. Great, wise, abundant in steadfast love, faithful, patient, etc.
c. Helps to put self in perspective
d. Helps to encourage gratefulness and thanksgiving
1. God is not far off, there is a connection to him in prayer (inv)
2. If you have obeyed, then remember to pray in the scriptures, to be aware of your own character and the character of God. Let his humble and encourage you.