It must have seemed as if his life was over.
At the age of fifteen, swept up in the aftermath of his country’s demise, in a series of cruel blows, he was enslaved, deported eight hundred miles — never to see his homeland again, stripped of his identity, and given a strange and foreign name. Severed from his past and with every reason to dwell in bitterness against God and man, the Old Testament prophet Daniel became a pillar of faithfulness, a man of great influence in his land of captivity, and an instrument of God in the restoration of Israel.
In The Daniel Prayer, Anne Graham Lotz examines the prayer life of the prophet who came to God desperate and saw heaven moved and nations changed. His model prayer, found in Daniel 9:1-23 was far removed from the “socially conditioned small-talk” that often passes for prayer, penetrating heaven with what Eugene Peterson would call “reversed thunder,” by praying God’s own promises back to Him.
Based on her own life-long commitment to fervent prayer, Anne reassures her readers that our own personal Daniel prayers do not have to be twenty-three verses long; they don’t have to be eloquent, or even memorable. She stresses the importance of privacy in our prayer life, yielding the freedom to pray fervently, with sincerity, and in complete humility. Her mother, Ruth Bell Graham, emphasized the importance of praying “on the hoof,” which is reassuring for me in these mini-van years.
I especially appreciated Anne’s unique way of expressing herself as she emphasized the importance of worship in all of our prayers. “Make the time to center down on who God is,” she exhorts. “Centering down” on God’s faithfulness, His righteousness, His goodness, and His power will put to rest any slight suspicion that God may be holding out us — or that He might want anything other than what’s best for His children.
The essence of Daniel’s prayer was a plea for God to be glorified once again through His own people. Daniel was praying from a promise that he had read in the Scriptures that in seventy years God would make good on His promises to restore His people — both spiritually and geographically.
Picture Daniel reading the promise, and then re-reading it.
Picture the firmness of resolve as it flooded his face and his heart that no matter whether anyone else in the world was praying for this deliverance that God had promised — HE WOULD!
On his face before God, confessing his own sin and the sin of the nation, Daniel pleaded with God for restoration and renewed favor. In Anne’s words, Daniel prayed “with wet eyes, bent knees, and a broken heart.” The outcome was not a legalistic exercise in which Daniel worked to impress God and others with his pious behavior, but it was a prayer totally, exclusively centered on God. It was specific, and it was centered on a promise that God had already made. Daniel didn’t try to tell God how to fulfill the promise or demand to see the fruit of it, but, in his pleading, he put himself at God’s disposal to make the will of God become a reality.
The Daniel Prayer is a tutorial, based on the biblical example of Daniel’s faithful life. It is also a book-mentoring experience based on Anne Graham Lotz’s journey of prioritizing prayer in her own personal life and ministry. With this double sowing of good seed, I have harvested a crop of wisdom that I hope to preserve and be nourished by:
- Daniel’s faith was centered on the living God. When Anne prays, she tries to think of specific attributes of God’s character that bear on her requests. For instance, if she is praying for her children, she remembers that He”understands parental agony and heartbreak.” When feeling hurt, she remembers that He was “wounded for her” and promises to “bind up the brokenhearted.” Before even confessing her sins, she reminds herself that God is merciful and loves sinners.
- Faced with the tyranny of the urgent and a never-ending do-list, it is easy to put prayer on the back burner. Anne admits: “If I waited until I had the time to draw aside and pray, I doubt I would ever pray. So I have to make the time for private prayer. To be honest, I’m afraid not to make the time. I don’t want to miss out on the power that’s necessary to really help others.” I’m just going to leave that quote right there and let it sink in . . .
- There is a humility that comes to God empty, knowing that He owes us nothing. If you ever have the idea that God owes you a yes, “maybe it’s time you smeared yourself with ashes.”
- Confession of sin will change your heart. Anne compares it to a “spiritual angiogram” and has provided a list of some of the more subtle sins to initiate a season of conviction, confession, and cleansing in the lives of her readers.
- The use of my time demonstrates my priorities in large letters. What is the reward for prayer? Certainly it adds nothing to my bank account, to my blog, or to the beauty or cleanliness of my home. What if the only reward for prayer is the high regard of Heaven? Is this enough?
The Daniel Prayer is a call to prayer — specific prayer, prayer that perseveres, and prayer that is based in the faithful promises of God.
This book was provided by Zondervan through the BookLookBloggers program in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.
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