Daniel 9:20-23; Prayer Interrupted ~ 20220821 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

08/21_Daniel 09:20-23; Prayer Interrupted; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220821_dan09_20-23.mp3

A Pattern of Prayer

We’ve been listening in to Daniel’s prayer in Daniel chapter 9, learning how he prays.

Daniel 9 is a Jewish prayer from an exile in Babylon asking for the restoration of Jerusalem and God’s holy temple. We are not under the same circumstances, so we can’t pray this prayer directly, but there is much we can pattern our prayers after. Prayer ought to be born out of meditation on God’s word. Our prayers ought to be pursuing God himself, intimacy with him, not just gifts from him. Prayer ought to be directed toward the God who is, as he has revealed himself to be, not God as we imagine him to be. Our posture in prayer ought to be one of humility, acknowledging that we don’t deserve anything from God, but that he is a gracious God and delights to give good gifts to those who don’t deserve it. Daniel spends the bulk of his time confessing his sins and the sins of his nation, and affirming the righteous character of God. Yet he comes boldly, imploring God to act. We can learn to enlarge our prayers by rooting them in a pursuit of the fame of God’s name throughout the nations. When we ask that God do something for the sake of his own name, his reputation, his glory, we can be confident that we are praying according to the will of God.

Prayer Interrupted

In verses 1-3, Daniel gives the background setting of his prayer, and he starts praying in the middle of verse 4 through the end of verse 19. In verses 20-23, his prayer gets interrupted by an angelic messenger sent to give him insight and understanding.

Daniel 9:20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.

Speaking in Prayer

Daniel says that it was while he was speaking and praying, while he was speaking in prayer. Do you ever struggle with losing your train of thought in prayer? Your mind wanders, you even forget altogether that you had set out to pray, and you find yourself thinking about something completely different? A simple tool that will help to maintain focus is simply to pray out loud. Or even silently mouth the words if the situation is not one where you can pray out loud. It seems that Daniel prayed aloud. How else could his adversaries prove he was praying, and to whom he was praying, if he was silently praying in his heart to the Lord? Of course the Lord knows our thoughts and can hear the cry of our hearts, but it can be helpful to us to actually verbalize our prayers. It can help immensely to keep our minds from wandering.

We also learn that Daniel wrote out his prayers. At least someone recorded this prayer because we now have it written down in our Bibles. Writing out your prayers can be another way to keep your focus and sort out your thoughts. It can also be a check on what you are asking for in prayer. Some things that I might think in my head I would think twice about if I said them out loud or wrote them down on paper.

The Angelic Interruption:

20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.

He Answers Before We Ask

Daniel’s prayer gets interrupted. It was while Daniel was speaking in prayer that Gabriel, the angel from the vision in chapter 8 came and interrupted his prayer. The word translated ‘came to me’ in verse 21 could also be translated ‘touched me’ as it is in similar contexts in 8:18 and in chapter 10:10 and 18. Gabriel may have actually had to touch Daniel to get his attention, like the angel struck Peter in the prison cell in Acts 12.

We saw in our study of Daniel 6 that at least two of Daniel’s praying three times a day with his windows open toward Jerusalem probably corresponded with the times of the morning and evening sacrifices that would have been offered to God if the temple would have been functioning. Here we are told that Gabriel came in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.

Daniel’s request was that God would turn away his wrath and anger from his city Jerusalem, and that God would make his face shine on his sanctuary. Gabriel was sent to give Daniel insight and understanding, and he was sent out ‘at the beginning of your pleas for mercy’.

We normally think of God responding to our prayers as in ordinary communication, where we ask something of someone, and we give them time to hear the request, think it through, and then respond. But here we see God responding to the request at the beginning of the prayer. Daniel doesn’t even get to his request until verse 16.

Daniel prepared himself for this prayer with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. This could mean that at the beginning of the day or whenever it was that Daniel began his preparation to pray, the angelic messenger was sent. Daniel doesn’t even get to finish his prayer before he gets interrupted.

This should be a great encouragement to us to pray. God’s answer was not contingent on the length or eloquence or passion or power of his prayer. The outcome was not affected by his following through with his intention to fast and pray. God sovereignly answered at the beginning of his prayer, not at the end of it. Isaiah 65:24 says:

Isaiah 65:24 ​Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.

God is sovereign. He does not need us to pray. He isn’t waiting, wondering what we are thinking, waiting for us to communicate what we need. Psalm 139 says:

Psalm 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

The Lord knows what we are going to say even before we do! He is not waiting in ignorance, wondering what we need. He is expectantly waiting, having everything we need ready to bless us even better than we know how to ask, just waiting for us to come to him to receive. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Invited to Ask

God already knows what we need before we ask, but he invites us to ask. He delights to answer when we seek him, when we ask him.

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Jesus said in John 16

John 16:23 ...Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

God often works in response to our prayers. James says ‘you do not have because you do not ask’ (4:2). But God is not dependent on our prayers, as if his hands were tied until we pray. God is entirely free to do what he wants when he wants. It is for our benefit that he waits to do some things until we ask. We need to know our dependence on him, we need to see his working in answer to our prayers. We need to know that it is him and not just chance or coincidence.

Greatly Loved

Gabriel addresses Daniel as one who is greatly loved. In the whole Bible, only Daniel is called this, and he is addressed this way three times (9:23; 10:11, 19). We might think ‘well, of course; he refused to defile himself with the king’s food, no fault could be found in him even by his enemies, he would rather end up fed to the lions than to give up his time in prayer. Of course he was greatly loved; he was worthy.’ But that is not how love works. Real love is not a response to performance; the one who loves takes the initiative. The one who loves chooses an object of his affection to set his love upon. To be beloved is not a title earned, but a foundational identity. Jesus was the beloved Son of the Father. That was his intrinsic identity, not a title he earned by performance. In his parable in Luke 20, the Son is beloved before he is sent. In John 17 Jesus affirms that the Father loved him before the foundation of the world. Jesus’ obedience was rooted in his being beloved by the Father and in his love for the Father; his obedience was not the reason the Father loved him. Jesus was not loved because he obeyed; he obeyed because he was already loved.

Here’s the amazing thing; Jesus is the beloved Son. But he includes us in that love. It says in John 13:

John 13:1 ...when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Jesus had set his face to Jerusalem, where he would lay down his life for his sheep. He is resolutely marching toward the cross, where he will give his life to rescue hiss own.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

He doesn’t say ‘here is how to earn my love; if you love one another, then I will love you’. No, he says ‘I have loved you. Therefore, love one another.’ Your love for others flows out of my love for you. Love for others flows out of yor identity as beloved.

First John says this:

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins....19 We love because he first loved us.

How much? Daniel was told he was greatly loved. Just how much are we loved? Jesus said:

John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

I don’t think it’s even possible to imagine a greater love than the love the Father has for his only Son. Just soak that in for a moment. You are loved as much as the Father loves Jesus.

In Romans we are addressed as those who are ‘loved by God and called to be saints’ (1:7). In Romans 5:

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

And in Romans 8, speaking of the unquenchable love of God toward us:

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

You are loved that much. You are greatly loved by God.


2022.08.21 Sermon Notes - Daniel 9:20-23; Prayer Interrupted

Daniel was speaking in prayer

Daniel 9:20-21

God answers before we ask

Isaiah 65:24; Psalm 139:1-4; Matthew 6:7-8

God invites us to ask

Matthew 7:7-11; John 16:23-24; James 4:2

You are greatly loved

Daniel 9:23; 10:11, 19

-we are not loved because we obey;

we obey because we are loved

Luke 3:22; 20:13; John 17:24

-’beloved’ is our identity

John 13:1, 34; 1 John 4:10, 19

-how much?

John 15:9; Romans 1:7; 5:8; 8:31-32


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