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While we know we need to pray and we are assured that God’s blessing is conditioned on our prayers, how effective are our petitions? Do we really know how and what to pray?
When I lack words in prayer, or thoughts about how to pray, I often turn to Scripture and use the words or patterns found in the prayers of others. One prayer I have used in pleading for America is the prayer that the prophet Daniel prayed long ago for his nation. Daniel had been living as a slave in captivity for 67 years when he poured out his heart to God on behalf of his people after they had come under God’s judgment …
Read Daniel 9:1-23
I. COMPELLED TO PRAY
Compelled by problems in the world
- Based on the following verses, describe the Babylonians: Genesis 10:8-10; 11:1-9; 2 Kings 24:20-25:7; 25:8-10.
- Understanding that Daniel and his people were held in captivity in Babylon, describe some of the problems they faced.
- What are some of the problems that America is facing today?
- Why should problems compel us to pray? See Exodus 3:9-10 and 2 Chronicles 7:13-14.
Compelled by problems in the Word
- On what was Daniel’s prayer based? How does this apply to your own prayer life? Are your prayers based on your wants—or on God’s Word?
- List the promises Daniel claimed from Jeremiah 25:12 and 29:10-15.
- What are some of the promises that you and I could claim for America? Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 as well as others you can think of.
- See Deuteronomy 28. What are some of the promises, commands and warnings that could apply to America?
- What do you learn from Daniel’s example as an old man in Daniel 9:1-2?
- When do you pray for America?
II. CENTERED IN PRAYER
- Re-read Daniel 9:3. In order “to turn to the Lord,” what do you think Daniel had to turn from? Relate this to Matthew 6:6; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:18.
- From Matthew 6:16-18, what word did Jesus use that indicates fasting is not an option for you and me?
- What do you learn from Elijah’s example of fasting in 1 Kings 17:1, 18:42 and James 5:16-18?
- If fasting is going without anything and everything in order to make the time to get alone with God in prayer, how does this help your focus?
- When do you fast?
III. CONFIDENT IN PRAYER
- How does Hebrews 11:6 say we are to approach God?
- How does Daniel refer to God in 9:4? Can you refer to God in the same way?
- What phrases from the following verses reveal Daniel’s confidence in God’s character: Daniel 9:4, 7, 9, 15?
- When you pray, what is the basis for your expectancy that God will hear and answer?
- What other prerequisite for confidence in prayer is found in Hebrews 10:19-23?
- Explain how you know you meet the New Testament prerequisite.
IV. CONTRITE IN PRAYER
- What basic problem of his people did Daniel address in verses 5, 8-11? Give specific phrases.
- How did this problem affect their relationship with God? See verses 6-8.
- How did this affect their national security? Read verses 12-14.
- How did this affect their relationship with other nations of the world? Read verse 16.
- Apply each of the above four answers to America.
- Count the personal pronouns Daniel used in verses 4-16. Are they singular or plural?
- How is this similar to Ezra’s prayer for his people in Ezra 9:6-15?
- From Ezra 9:5, 10:1 and Daniel 9:3, give the phrases that reveal the attitude of the one praying.
- What does this teach you and me about how to pray for the people around us?
V. CLEAR IN PRAYER
- List the phrases that specify exactly what Daniel is asking God to do in 9:16-19.
- What fundamental reason does Daniel give God for answering his prayer in 9:19
- Write out your specific requests for America, based on Daniel’s prayer.
VI. CONFIRMED IN PRAYER
- How long did it take Daniel to confirm that his prayer had been heard? Read 9:20-21.
- Do you think Daniel would have received insight into his people’s national situation had he not prayed? Read 9:20-22.
- When was Daniel’s prayer answered? Read 9:23.
- When did Daniel actually receive the specific answer to his specific requests? See Ezra 1:1-5.
- Do you think Daniel’s people would have been restored to their foundation of faith and to God’s place of blessing if Daniel had not prayed for them? See James 4:2 and Jeremiah 10:21.
What conclusion can you draw from this Bible study about the importance of praying for America? Based on your prayers, how likely is it that God will bless America?
Father, while we have been pointing our fingers at the sins of others, we feel the intense, fiery gaze of Your holiness directed at us—Your people. We choose now to humbly bow at the foot of the cross, seek a fresh vision of who You are, and pray. Our hearts are broken and contrite for our own sin and that of our nation. As we specifically confess “our” sin, we ask that You would hear our prayer, forgive our sin, and please, dear God … bless America. For the glory of Your Name, Amen. ©2016 Anne Graham Lotz
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