Daniel 9:3; The Posture of Prayer~ 20220703 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

07/03_Daniel 09:3; Posture in Prayer; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220703_dan09_3.mp3

We are learning how to pray from a man who was devoted to prayer. We know from chapter 6 that Daniel:

Daniel 6:10 ...He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

But in chapter 9 we get to listen in on Daniel praying, his passion in prayer, hear what he prayed, watch how he prayed.

Last time we looked at the main pursuit of prayer; we do not pray primarily to get answers, we are after God himself. Our primary pursuit is not the gift but the Giver.

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. ...8 You have said, “Seek my face. ”My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

Our primary, our ultimate pursuit in prayer must simply be time spent with the Lord, in the presence of the Lord. We seek the face of the Lord in prayer. Daniel says:

Daniel 9:3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying…

It matters most what you are after in prayer. Daniel is turning his face to the Lord in prayer, seeking him.

Prayer and Pleas for Mercy

But look at how Daniel approaches God in prayer:

Daniel 9:3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying…

Daniel sought the Lord God by prayer and pleas for mercy. Prayer is a general term for approaching God, and ‘pleas for mercy’ describes the attitude of his prayer. He is seeking something he does not deserve. Daniel is not asking for justice. He does not want what he deserves. He seeks mercy; a release from what he deserves, a gracious gift of favor he does not deserve.

This word translated ‘pleas for mercy’ carries the implication of unequal parties; Daniel approaches God as his superior to whom he is subordinate. God is God. Daniel is at his mercy. You don’t plead for mercy from your peers, from your equals. Daniel humbly acknowledges his place as an inferior pleading for something he has no right to. Daniel shows a humble respect for God’s authority.

Prayer is by definition asking, and within asking is implicit submission to the greater wisdom and authority of the Lord God. Daniel is not demanding God do something for him because he has rights or because God owes him. He is seeking God by prayer and pleas for mercy. He makes this explicit toward the end of his prayer in verse 18

Daniel 9:18 ...For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.

Daniel is not approaching God on his own merits, but on the grounds that God is merciful.

Rightousness of Daniel and David

This is interesting, because there is not one sin, not one fault attributed to Daniel. If anyone could come on his own merits, it seems it should be Daniel. Even Ezekiel (14:14,20) affirms the righteousness of Daniel.

David, on the other hand, who we know was an adulterer, a liar, and a murderer, says things like...

Psalm 7:3 O LORD my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, … 8 The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. 9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! 10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.

Psalm 18:20 The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. 21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22 For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. 23 I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. 24 So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

We could argue that these Psalms were likely written before David’s great sin, but David understood that no one is without sin.

Psalm 130:3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.

Psalm 143:2 Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.

So when he speaks of his own righteousness, he cannot mean that he is sinless and not in need of forgiveness. We also know that David understood the great mercy and forgiveness of the Lord, that God justifies sinners by sheer grace.

Psalm 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Romans 4:6-8)

David argued from his own righteousness, but he also understood something of the ability of God to count sinners as righteous by grace.

Works Righteousness and the Justified Publican

In Daniel’s prayer, he does not approach God on his own merits, but on the grounds that God is merciful. He must have understood Isaiah’s teaching (64:6) that all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment, if we seek to establish our righteousness before God by our own performance.

Remember what Jesus taught in Luke 18?

Luke 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus drew a contrast between the one who was trusting in his own righteousness, and the one who acknowledges his sinfulness, and casts himself on the mercy of God. Pride and self-righteousness have no place in the presence of God. The only appropriate posture before God is humility. The one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

Heart Posture Affects Outward Posture

The appropriate posture for prayer is humility. We are talking about a posture of the heart, but let me ask you this. If your heart is overflowing with joy and you are having a really good day, can the people around you tell? Or if you are just down in the dumps, frustrated, irritable, nothing seems to be working out for you, does anyone notice? The posture of your heart inevitably affects the way you carry yourself. Some people are better at faking it than others, but your heart posture affects all of you.

Daniel’s outward actions corresponded to his humility of heart.

Daniel 9:3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.


His prayer and his pleas for mercy were accompanied by fasting and sackcloth and ashes. Fasting is going without something, usually food.

When it comest to things like fasting, we tend to ask ‘do I have to? Am I supposed to fast? When? How often? For how long? We are inclined to think ‘if I do this (or deny myself of this) then God will be obligated to respond to my request’. But that is wrong thinking. Nothing we could ever do would put God in our debt.

In Matthew 9,

Matthew 9:14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Fasting was an outward expression of grief or mourning. Jesus said that there is an appropriate time for fasting, and that it should correspond with the circumstances. A wedding is a time for celebration and joy, but if the groom is abducted, then it would be appropriate to grieve.

Have you ever felt such despair, been in such turmoil of soul that food lost its appeal? You couldn’t bring yourself to eat? You just had no appetite? That’s an outward expression of the posture of your heart.

But this can also work in reverse. Are there things that in your head you know you ought to feel sick about, that you ought to lose your appetite over, these things should affect you that way, but they just don’t? Maybe you’ve become callous or numb. Fasting can be a way to remind yourself that what is happening in the world or in your circumstances ought to make you sick to your stomach, make you lose your appetite. Choosing to go without food can be a way to remind your soul of how your heart ought to be responding.

By fasting, we are saying ‘Lord, you are more important to me than food. You are my daily sustenance. It’s you I really need. The rebellion of this world against you makes me lose my appetite. It is you that I humger and thirst after.’


Sackcloth was an itchy uncomfortable fabric, something like burlap, like the kind of sacks they sell potatoes or onions or rice or animal feed in. Only the poorest and most destitute would consider wearing sackcloth.

By wearing sackcloth, we are saying ‘I am destitute, poor, and needy. These circumstances are intolerable. I am helpless and need you to intervene.’

Dust and Ashes

God formed man from the dust of the ground. When the Lord cursed Adam because of his rebellion, he said

Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Ashes are all that is left after the destruction of fire. In 2 Peter it says God:

2 Peter 2:6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

Abraham, when he prays to the Lord on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18 refers to himself as dust and ashes, as nothing.

By putting ashes on our heads, we are saying ‘I deserve your wrath, I am as good as dead. I have been reduced to nothing in your presence.’

Repent, Return to Me, Rend Your Heart

When Jonah declared God’s judgment on Nineveh

Jonah 3: 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. 6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

The wicked city Nineveh determined to turn everyone from his evil way, to turn and seek mercy from God.

In Joel 2, the Lord warns of the coming great and terrible day of the Lord’s judgment. But he offers an invitation.

Joel 2:11 ...For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it? 12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. 14 ​Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, ...

The Lord is most interested in the attitude of our heart, that we genuinely turn to him in humility and seek his mercy. We are sinners daily in need of mercy, and God is gracious and merciful.

In what ways does what we say we believe misalign with our posture of heart? What practical tangible things can we do to reinforce appropriate heart humility in the presence of God?

Our heart posture of humility will find appropriate outward expression. ‘God I need you more than food. I am poor, helpless and destitute. I deserve you wrath; I am as good as dead, but you, you are merciful!’

Daniel 9:3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, …


2022.07.03 Sermon Notes

Daniel 9:3; The Posture of Prayer

The primary pursuit of prayer is seeking God’s face

Psalm 27:4, 8

By prayer and pleas for mercy

Daniel 9:3, 18

The righteousness of Daniel and David

Psalm 7:3, 8-10; 18:20-24; Psalm 130:3-4; 143:2

-God justifies sinners by grace

Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 4:6-8;

The only appropriate posture before God is humility

Isaiah 64:6; Luke 18:9-14

Outward actions must correspond to heart attitude


Matthew 9:14-15


Isaiah 3:24; Amos 8:10


Genesis 3:19; 2 Peter 2:6; Genesis 18:27

Repent; turn to me, rend your heart

Jonah 3:4-10; Joel 2:11-14


Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org