Sunday School 07/29: James Says Listen and Daniel’s Prayer

Hey there. I guess this will be Monday morning school again. I have an excuse, I bought a new smart phone and was setting it up. $45 a month flat as in I buy a $45 card for $45 and there it is, no contracts, unlimited text, data, talk. Probably not super fast but it should work for me. I need GPS and occasional web access to manage my fantasy team, get scores, check email and FB.

Pastor Mark had another good message about Paul offending a group of Greeks in Acts 14 and brought up James 1:19-20

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

So let’s review. We slow our roll on speaking and becoming angry and we focus on listening. I’ve had to work on that common tendency to think about what I’m going to say next instead of listening to what is being said. We are selfish, prideful beings aren’t we? Not only do we not listen we are quick to take offense. Our anger isn’t going to make things better. It just causes more chaos.

Lets be clear, this doesn’t mean we don’t say anything that might cause offense. I can’t think of one example where a prophet or preacher holds back because they might cause offense. But they know how to speak the “truth in love”. You have to have both, say it like it is but do so not to condemn but to edify. And if we listen we just might know how to help that other person as they (hopefully) grow closer to Christ.

It’s not just a coincidence that James discusses Christian fellowship in chapter 5. The focus of the letter is holy living and living together as a body of believers, at least in large part. (see 2:1-4; 3:9,14; 4:1-6 and 11-12; 5:8 and 13-20 and that’s just the direct references). He starts with the basic principles of communication. Without that fellowship isn’t going to happen.

Second part: still reading Daniel. I discussed his great faith last week. This week we’ll discuss briefly his wonderful prayer that is chronicled in chapter 9. Daniel was praying on the behalf of his people who were in exile. First the text.

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.

“O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.

13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before theLord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!

16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your peopleare a reproach to all those around us. 17 Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

OK, lets look at what Daniel did:

1) Studies the Word so He can understand His will. (2-3)

2) Focuses fully on prayer, including denial of self (3)

3) He confesses his sin and the sin of those he is praying about (4-11)

4) He acknowledges that Israel deserves its fate (12-15)

5) He appeals to God’s mercy, promise and best interests. He does try to claim they deserve God’s mercy or help (16-18)

6) He boldly asks God to do as God said He would.

Actually 5 and 6 are kind of intertwined.

So what can we take from this example.

1) We don’t deserve God’s help. We’re all sinners. Acknowledge it boldly.

2) Come to God with the proper reverence. Its not always necessary to fast and deny yourself but if the prayer is very important then we should.

3) Pray big, bold prayers (as New Walk always says). Is there any namby pamby prayers in the Bible? We pray in confidence by knowing what God’s will is, knowing that God’s will is paramount and praying according to it.

4) God will answer, believe. If we are following His will. Daniel knew it, so should we.

If you read ahead God answered Daniel’s prayer by sending Gabriel to explain the vision and confirm to Daniel that deliverance from captivity was forthcoming.

Careful now … God isn’t always going to do something we consider great and glorious (and indeed, Daniel was troubled by these visions and angelic visitations). Sometimes its because we aren’t reading God, we are reading our own desires. Other times we just don’t know why God does as He does. If we could explain God fully we’d be God. We can’t begin to comprehend the mind of God. But praise God! He gave us many examples of how to pray and how to live. We would do well to follow.

Hope you enjoyed reading, next Sunday School should be better. I’m studying, learning an growing but nothing really stood out this week. Nothing I could really write in a blog format. This should be OK. Comments, corrections, disagreements, other input welcomed. Happy Monday!

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