Daniel 9:17-19, An Intercessor’s Cry

As you may know I’m currently going through the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to look up verses, read passages and then compile lists based on types of prayer such as private vs public, intercessory, supplication etc. I’m doing this as part of the Tim Tebow and Praying in Public study. A few days ago while working on looking up verses that had to do with fasting I came across Daniel chapter 9. Here the prophet Daniel is pleading with God in prayer, petition and fasting. Have you ever read a chapter or verse of the Bible where it felt like the words were beaming up off the pages straight into your face with mega emphasis added in every way possible? That is the Holy Spirit stirring your heart through God’s word! Well that happened to me especially with the following sentence:

We do not make requests of you because we are righteous
but because of your great mercy.

Let the implication of those words sink in. God has been speaking to me with these simple yet profound words. As I’ve pondered verses 17-19 through meditation and prayer God has really been hitting home to me a sensitivity towards His great mercy….the only reason we can make any sort of prayer or petition to Him is because of His great mercy. In fact the only reason I can type this blog post or for that matter live another day is because of His great mercy! The only reason the nations on earth have not ceased to exist, the only reason we are playing in the snow, making friends or worrying about the next presidential election is because of God’s great, magnificent, incomprehensible…..mercy. Like Jesus tells us in His sermon on the mount:

He [God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous

And so I pray,

Lord, it is not because of my righteousness that I can cry “Abba Father” but because of your great mercy that you have adopted me as your daughter.

Lord, it is because of your great mercy, that you shed your blood on Calvary. Because of the mercy you chose to have on us, your enemy.

Meditating further on verses 17-19 as a whole:

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant.
For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary.
18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name.
We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act!
For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

A desolate sanctuary. Under the new covenant we know that the sanctuary of God’s spirit is now within each believer. Crying out to God we can pray:

Lord, not because of our righteusness but because of your great mercy, not for our sake but for your glory I pray for the idols that threaten desolation within our temples (our lives) to fall down and break like the idol dagon broke before the ark of the covenant. Lord open our eyes to see, sift our hearts and show us any sin or false god within our hearts or lives. Heavenly Father we pray for all idols to fall down and break before the covenant we have with You as your people. For you alone are God and there is none other. You alone are Savior as you proclaim in Isaiah 45:22

22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.

We can also pray and petition on behalf of the spiritually desolate cities within the United States, pray for your city, pray for our nation, which bears the name of the Lord. Having lived in Japan for four years I came to realize that when the majority of foreigners think of the United States they think of Christians. In fact when I made Japanese friends they often found it to be no surprise that I was Christian since I was an American. They simply figured that the reason I was a Christian was because of my nationality. They were surprised to find out that no, it was because Christ first loved me and of what he’d done in my life. Their perception is also in part because, at least in Japan, the majority of citizens worship Buddha and/or their ancestors because of their culture so they figure the same applies to Americans. As Americans we may not think of our nation bearing God’s name, especially as it stands today. But to much of the world the God of Christianity is the God of the United States.

As we pray and cry out to the Lord we remember that we cry out not because of any righteousness of our own or of our church or of our nation but because of God’s great mercy, and not for our sake but for God’s glory. We come before him recognizing His authority and dominion, we are his servants, it is all about Him. Join in the prayer Daniel brought before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords during his fast:

19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act!

or with emphasis added:

Lord, listen…because of your great mercy!

Lord forgive…because of your great mercy!

Lord hear and act…because of your great mercy!

All for the glory of God the Father, so that the nations may turn and behold You in great awe and wonder, our beautiful Savior. Praise the Lord!

Unequally Yoked

I read a really good blog post today, written by a sister in Christ by the name of Kathy Keller entitled “Dont Take It from Me: Reasons You Should Not Marry an Unbeliever“. I think the advice she provides is very important for Christian singles!!! I’d be the first one in line to earnestly beseech my fellow Christians to obey God in who they date and marry! Many times however married people who are in an unequally yoked situation may feel like there is plenty of messages telling them the situation they are in is wrong but not enough Biblically based encouragement as to what to do if you are married to an unbeliever or in an unequally yoked Christian relationship (such as one person struggling in their faith while the other is strong or a protestant and a catholic). I would like to point out the following which God has been teaching me as a spouse in an unequally yoked situation. In spite of the stress and pain that can rear its head in the relationship due to being unequally yoked:

1. Being unequally married gives the believer or stronger Christian no license to treat the other without respect/love – Ephesians 5:33 is an act of obedience towards God and not contingent on the other spouse. Respect/love them with your heart, voice, face and actions whether it be in the home environment or publicly to others in church or elsewhere.

2. Just because the stress and pain of not being able to pray, read the Bible or fellowship in Christ together may be present, doesn’t mean that there isn’t any friendship or fun going on in the relationship. My spouse is still the same person I fell in love with, that will never change and the reasons I fell in love with them are still there. As with any marriage, love is a decision and a commitment.

3. Being unequally married does not give the believer or stronger Christian the license to “give up” on a) the marriage and/or b) their pursuit of God.

4. I think the article when directed towards single Christians is good advice, however I feel like there shouldn’t be an “all hope is lost” portrait painted of couples in an unequally yoked situation. Some people end up in an unequally yoked situation because one of the spouses came to Christ later in life or sometimes because one of the spouses backslid in their walk Christ. Even if they fell into an emotional battle and sinned as a Christian by marrying an unbeliever God’s grace is sufficient. Although sinning is never worth it, with repentance and faith in God all things are possible! Even pursuing God and being transformed into a godly spouse in spite of the situation. Our hope and joy in Christ is not dependent on our situation – give thanks in all circumstances and offer up your prayers unceasingly to God our Father.

5. God gives hope to the believing spouse in 1 Peter 3:1 saying that their spouse may be won over not by discussion but by the godly life of the believer or stronger Christian. An important thing to notice here is that this verse turns your eyes off your spouse and makes your life not about nagging or dragging them into church but about pursuing God because when it comes to being godly well there is always room for great surrender to and transformation by the Holy Spirit. Again, loving and respecting your spouse should not be contingent on whether or not they believe or obey God but is an act of obedience toward God.

6. There are the downsides/consequences-not being able to pray or read the Bible together or perhaps them not wanting to get involved with church etc. which can cause pain and strife. However God commands the believer or stronger Christian not to take part in arguments because they lead to quarrelling and to answer their opponents with gentleness and courtesy in the hope that the unbeliever will be saved, 2 Timothy 2:23-25. See how God again makes it about you and becoming more like Jesus instead of being about how to change the other person?

7. Just because someone is married to an unbeliever or to someone who is struggling with the faith gives the church or other Christians no right to pass judgment because the only one out there with the right to judge is Christ since he lived a sinless life and He chooses to give grace. In fact the only response the church/Christians should have towards people already in an unequally yoked marriage should be love, acceptance, compassion and support for BOTH spouses (believer and unbeliever) as Christ would. How else will the unbelieving or struggling spouse see Christ? If the husband hears from his wife how awesome God is but then is made out to be the villain, judged, criticized and/or snubbed by God’s people, then what?

8. Sometimes the lack of mercy and compassion my spouse has received from other Christians made me upset. It hurt because in spite of the pain that I do feel in my marriage due to being unequally yoked, I still love my spouse! However God calls me to forgive my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ who do pass judgment or who are unmerciful because Christ forgives me for my shortcomings and I should pray for them and be unhindered in my pursuit of being a godly wife.

9. Lastly, like Stormie Omartian says in her best-selling book, The Power of a Praying Wife, “Shut up and pray!”. God loves both spouses so much, no matter where each spouse is or “is not” in their walk with God. Surrendering a spouse to God to let Him pursue them can be hard sometimes cause it feels like you are giving up hope. However the less they hear from you the more the “air is cleared” for them to hear from God and the more you pray the less your eyes will be fixed on your spouse and more on God which leads to being transformed more into His likeness.

Scripture Meditation: Psalm 147:15-17

I heard a verse at church on Sunday that has been on my heart all week. It has been in the negatives (F) since this past weekend, even during the day! -15 out tonight! I know there are a lot colder places in the world, for example I checked the weather for Fairbanks, Alaska and it is currently -34 degrees Fahrenheit there – no joke!! The residents up there could appreciate the implication of these verses much better…When it is this cold out your body – well mine at least – begins to shiver uncontrollably even after standing still outside just briefly, nose hairs freeze almost instantly (such a weird feeling) and your face hurts when you finally get indoors where it is warm. The frost covers everything, the trees look so beautiful with their icy white branches and the thick layer of snow has transformed the landscape. Even in the frigid cold God is glorified. If you stop and think about the extreme cold weather conditions you can’t help but be awe-struck and humbled before Him. The psalmist captured this in Psalm 147:15-17:

“He sends forth His command to the earth;
His word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.
He casts forth His ice as fragments;
Who can stand before His cold?”

Tim Tebow and Praying in Public

The Debate
I don’t watch sports, nothing against them I’m just not really into watching, although on a rare occasion you will find me going to a hockey game cheering for whoever the home team is cause hockey games are so much fun to watch live! In spite of my lack of attention to sports, the Tebow sensation has reached my eyes and ears through the news and through Facebook friends’ posts. Most recently I saw a heated discussion between a Facebook friend and one of their friends who I don’t know. They were debating whether or not it was OK for Tebow to be praying in public. What really bothered me about it was that one of them was basing their whole argument off of a scripture reference they were taking out of context. This really made me uncomfortable/raised my heart rate a little bit and made me get that nervous feeling in my stomach that maybe I should point that “out of context” issue to them. Since I love, love – LOVE God’s most holy infallible word, I wanted to say something so bad! I didn’t though – I had a feeling that wouldn’t be the wise thing to do.

Anyway, as I contemplated their debate it didn’t take long to recognize that if one person is asking this question then there are more. It is good to ask questions about the Bible – God wants us to ask questions and to study His word. The latter is the part that gets left out most of the time which unfortunately leads to heated arguments based on human worldviews as opposed to God’s perfect truth. To find out what God says about public prayer let’s dive into His Word.

The Method of Study
Well first, set your own initial opinion/gut feeling to the side (sure I have on too!) and open the Bible along with a concordance, I use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. It is available in book form or online. Then start looking up the word “pray”, “prayer”, “prayed” etc. As you look the verses up make sure to read the context by reading the paragraphs before and after or even the whole chapter. That really helps a lot. As you read each passage start categorizing them by types of prayer such as public prayer, corporate prayer, private prayer etc.

After compiling lists we will then look at what God says about public prayer by reading the verses and studying them in context by:

  1. Studying the text before and after.
  2. Comparing the scripture with the other scriptures we find about prayer.

God’s word, although consisting of 66 books written over thousands of years does not contradict itself so it is important to shine the light of meaning on scripture by using other scriptures referred to as “cross references”.

As you compile your own list you will realize that it takes some time. I’m going to look up a section of verses/passages each day and will keep my lists here:  Verses on Prayer. I’m sure this will come in handy later on for other studies too!

After studying the scriptures we’ll be able to draw a conclusion to the question based on what God has to say about prayer in public throughout His word. Remember to check back for progress on the study and the results!

View the observations of public prayers recorded in scripture

View the conclusion!