Wednesday, July 10, 2013

As You Pray: A Biblical Attitude

By Jeff Kingswood
Chairman of the Board

As we ask you to pray for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, I would like to direct your attention to the conclusion of Daniel's prayer to God in Chapter 9 of the book that bears his name. There we find Daniel imploring God to redeem the remnant of Israel which are held in captivity in Babylon.
The attitude of Daniel’s prayer reveals to us three things necessary for our prayer life and our intercession for the Lord’s work, be that at GPTS or elsewhere.
A biblical attitude of prayer involves three things: 
  1. A heartfelt love for the one true God as He has revealed Himself to us.
  2. An attitude of humility that recognizes our need and dependence on God.
  3. A realization that though we deserve nothing, God will give us everything for the sake of the name of our Savior Jesus Christ.
The first attitude we see in Daniel's prayer is that of heartfelt love for the one true God as He has revealed Himself to us.  As you read this prayer of Daniel's, it is clear that Daniel is not just coldly going through a formula. This is a heartfelt pouring out of his soul and its desires before the God whom Daniel loves and trusts. It is full of passion. It comes from the heart.
Prayer flows out of a relationship. That is what makes prayer possible. Daniel is able to pray in this way because he knows the God with whom he is speaking.  Daniel knows God's character because he has studied scripture, and he knows how God has acted in the past in His dealings with Israel. 
Daniel has known God personally, and his thankful obedience to the law of God has brought Daniel great courage in times of trial.
As you read the introduction to this prayer in verse 2 of chapter 9 you see that Daniel is not basing his prayer for the release of the captive Israelites on some vague hope but rather on the prophecies given by God to the prophet Jeremiah.  Daniel's prayer is simply that God would fulfill what God has already promised His people. Daniel is praying God’s Word back to Him.
The second attitude of prayer is an attitude of humility that recognizes our need and dependence on God. That is the biblical attitude show by Daniel in verse 18.  Daniel dares to come before God not because of who he is but because of God's great mercy. We need always to keep that in mind. 
Look at the words of Daniel's prayer: O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 
We are chosen by God not because of anything good or worthy in and of ourselves. Out of sheer undeserved mercy God chose some to be His children in Jesus Christ. That knowledge brings about the humility that Daniel displays. We don't deserve a thing. Our attitude in prayer ought to be: “It is only because of your great mercy, Lord, that we dare to come before you at all. Please hear our prayers. We deserve nothing and all that we receive is mercy.”
That brings us to the third point which is that an attitude of Biblical prayer requires a realization that though we deserve nothing, God will give us everything for the sake of the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Daniel prays in verse 19:
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name."
Why does Daniel implore God to answer his prayer? For the sake of God's name! 
The pagan nations were laughing at the people of Israel. They were mocking them and saying, "O look at them now. Where is their God now? If their God were real wouldn't He save them?"
Daniel is jealous for the glory of God. I am sure that he wasn't thrilled about being in exile, and he would like to have been freed to return to Israel; but what drives him to prayer is the glory of God.
“Lord, restore your people and the city of Jerusalem so that people will see that you are faithful and they will be forced to praise your name. For your name. For your sake.” Daniel realizes that his pleasure, his pain, his suffering or his satisfaction mean very little in God's great scheme of things and that what really matters is the glory that is given to the name of God. Daniel is jealous for the glory of God!
Pray with us at GPTS that we will have a jealous concern for the name of Jesus. Pray that we will labor in prayer to see that His name is not stained with our sin and that our blessings will speak to others of His mercies to us. May that attitude of humble thanksgiving color our prayer life through and through.