A. When God first started speaking about the Daniel Training Network earlier this year, He highlighted four dimensions of Daniel’s life and ministry that He wanted us to incorporate into the focus of the Daniel Training Network.
B. Daniel prayed. Prayer and intercession were the foundation of Daniel’s life.
Daniel 6:10b (NIV)
Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed…
C. Daniel proclaimed. Daniel also had clear understanding of the biblical gospel. He proclaimed and clung tightly to his hope in the Messiah’s coming earthly kingdom, the vindication and inheritance of the saints following the Great Tribulation, and the bodily resurrection of the saints that will occur at the end of the age.
Daniel 2:44 (NIV)
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed…
Daniel 7:18 (NIV)
But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’
Daniel 12:2 (NIV)
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
D. Daniel prophesied. Daniel was also sensitive to the voice of the Lord. He had skill in hearing the Spirit clearly. Through prophetic means, the Holy Spirit gave him strategic insight into God’s purposes at the end of the age.
Daniel 1:17b (NIV)
And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
E. Daniel prepared. Despite great opposition, Daniel faithfully and righteously administered his God-given assignment with integrity. He administered his responsibilities in righteousness because He knew that one day he would inherit a kingdom of righteousness. Daniel also had practical skills in leadership and administration.
Daniel 6:3-5 (NIV)
3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators (practical skills) and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs (governing righteously in light of his future assignment as a ruler in Jesus’ kingdom, cf. Dan. 7:27), but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
F. In August, our Friday nights will be built around a rotation of these four “P’s.” On the first Friday night, we will have a solemn prayer assembly. On the second Friday night, we will have an Emmaus Road Gathering. These will set apart for growth in our understanding of the Scriptures. On the third Friday night, we will have a prophetic forum. On the fourth Friday night, we will have a preparation seminar.
G. Last week, we focused our attention on “Prophecy.” We first examined the nature of the prophetic in the Old Testament, and then we looked at the shift in the prophetic that occurred from Old to New Testament. It is clear from the New Testament that following the day of Pentecost, prophetic gifts are no longer confined strictly to a special class of prophets. While some in the Body of Christ are gifted in the prophetic more than others, all believers have the capacity to hear Jesus’ voice through the Spirit on some level. All of us are admonished to eagerly desire spiritual gifts of a prophetic nature for the purpose of encouraging and edifying other members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 14). Prophetic words are meant by God to help us “fight the good fight,” and cling more tightly to faith and a good conscience before God. They are signs of the Day of the Lord and the coming judgment, when God will judge the secrets and motives of our hearts.
1 Corinthians 14:24-25 (NIV)
24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand (NIV alternative “some inquirer”) comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
Romans 2:16 (NIV)
This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
H. Tonight we are going to look at the subject of prayer. What is prayer? Why is prayer important? Why must we be rooted and grounded in a lifestyle of prayer? What are some of the different ways God wants prayer to be expressed in His Body? What place does prayer have in the end-of-the-age drama described in the Bible?
A. In the Book of Isaiah, God calls the Jerusalem Temple a “house of prayer.”
Isaiah 56:4-7 (NIV)
4 For this is what the Lord says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant— 5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.6And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— 7these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer (temple and house of prayer the same thing). Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
B. In the New Testament, Paul says that in Christ the saints constitute God’s temple in which He lives by His Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV)
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
C. From Isaiah, we learn that the temple and the house of prayer are one reality. From the New Testament, we learn that the saints form the temple of God, a temple not built by human hands, but by God. If the temple is the house of prayer, and if the temple is the people of God, then the house of prayer is the people of God. The identity of the assembly or church of Jesus the Messiah is a house of prayer. Our corporate identity as the temple of God is inextricably tied to our corporate identity as priests set apart to minister before God in a world otherwise hostile to Him. When we accept the gospel, by default we become part of a house of prayer, a holy temple, made up of living, breathing stones whose lips continually offer sacrifices of praise that honor Jesus’ name.
1 Peter 2:4-5 (NIV)
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.
D. This truth about who we are as a house of prayer explains why we are called on a functional level as the Body of Christ to “pray without ceasing.” Who we are is intimately bound to what we do. We are a living temple of prayer that will never cease to exist because of our inclusion in the resurrection of the righteous. God’s will for us is a life of unceasing prayer. As the Body of Christ we are summoned by God to devote ourselves to prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Colossians 4:2 (NIV)
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
E. Though a devotion prayer requires effort, intentionality, and focus on our part, as well as growth in the knowledge of God and paradigm shifts (e.g. the uprooting of lies and deceptions that hinder fellowship with God), by the grace of God a life of prayer it is not a burden. As we regularly and wholeheartedly give ourselves to intimacy with him through prayer, he will meet us and fill our hearts with great joy and spiritual pleasures through the Holy Spirit. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a time set aside for prayer not wanting to pray, but then God shifted things when I just start opening my mouth and talking to Him even in my weakness.
F. In light of the above, we see that the “house of prayer” is first and foremost something we are, and only secondarily some place we go to. There is no hard distinction in God’s mind between “church” and “house of prayer” on an identity level. A group of saints that prays often is simply the temple functioning the way God designed it to function.
A. Why do you think God places so much emphasis on prayer in the Bible?
B. There are many reasons that prayer is important. We don’t have time to look at all of them, but here will focus on three: 1) prayer as the primary means of accessing grace for obedience to Christ; 2) prayer as the source of power for fruitfulness in our ministry assignments; 3) prayer as the context for fulfilling our call to fellowship with the Triune God of love in intimate friendship.
C. On a broad level grace is a shorthand phrase for God’s enabling power to do what we cannot do on our own. The concept applies to ministry (e.g. Ac. 4:33), finances (e.g. 2 Cor. 9:8), and personal transformation (e.g. Tit. 2:11-14). Whenever God enables us in some way beyond and above our normal range of power, capacity, and ability, we are experiencing His grace. The Spirit’s grace is what enables us to obey Jesus’ commands. We cannot obey God in the way He desires apart from the enablement or grace of the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Spirit instructs us in righteousness, sanctifies us as Jesus’ Bride, and transforms us over time into creatures worthy of inheriting the glories age to come.
Acts 20:32 (NIV)
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
D. Grace is available to us simply by virtue of the fact that we are covenant with God through Jesus’ blood. However, in a covenant, both parties to the covenant have a role to play. Our part is to access grace through constant prayer. Prayer is the primary means by which the saints access grace for righteousness, transformation, and obedience to the law of Christ (the Sermon on the Mount).
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Matthew 7:7-12 (NIV)
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him (cf. Luke 11:12 – talking about the Holy Spirit.)! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
E. “We can’t do God’s part, God won’t do our part.” The wise man builds His house on the rock of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. A life built on the Sermon on the Mount is what will withstand the coming storms. However, we cannot obey these commands of Christ apart from His grace. Jesus knew this, and so told us to ask for the Holy Spirit’s power.
F. Another reason prayer is important, is that God simply does more and moves in more power when we boldly seek Him in prayer.
2 Corinthians 1:10-11 (NIV)
10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
Acts 4:29-31 (NIV)
29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
James 5:15a (NIV)
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well…
G. For example, more and more ministries in the Muslim world are starting to put prayer as the center of what they are doing. They are seeing more fruit than ever before.
H. However, prayer is not simply a means to the end of a more fruitful ministry. More importantly, a life of prayer is the context in which we commune with our Maker and Redeemer in friendship, fellowship, and intimacy. As such, prayer is the end and not the means. In prayer we express the longing of our hope for the Bridegroom’s return to make the wrong things right. We are called to fellowship with the Holy Trinity. This will go on forever and ever.
1 Corinthians 1:9 (NIV)
God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
1 John 1:3 (NIV)
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 16:22b (NIV)
…Come, O Lord!
A. From the above we see that a deep commitment to prayer is part of New Testament Christianity. Every disciple Jesus is called to abide in Jesus through a lifestyle of constant prayer.
B. However, from the Scriptures we also learn that a commitment to prayer has manifold outward expressions in terms of prayer formats, group dynamics, and organization. Outward forms, formats, and expressions of prayer can vary according to calling (individual or corporate), divine mandates, circumstances, and culture.
C. King David, the Apostle Paul, and Anna were all deeply committed to prayer.
Psalms 17:6 (NIV)
I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.
Luke 2:36-37 (NIV)
36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.
2 Timothy 1:3 (NIV)
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
D. Question: Which of these three do you think was the most committed to prayer?
E. David, Paul, and Anna were and will always be part of the “house of prayer” in their identity. However, prayer found expression differently in their lives according to their different callings. From a foundation of prayer, David ruled a nation. From a foundation of prayer, Paul went to the nations. His prayer furnace was often a prison cell. Anna sat night and day at the Lord’s feet in the temple as her full-time calling. As part of their life of prayer David and Paul often visited and prayed in the temple, but then left and continued functioning as a house of prayer outside of the literal temple complex. But Anna was called in a full-time way to an actual place of prayer. Through her lifestyle of prayer and fasting, she built a sacred space where people could meet with God in fellowship and intimacy.
F. We should be careful not to judge others if their life of prayer finds expression through different means and venues than our own. Sometimes there can be unnecessary confusion, hurt, and misunderstanding caused when people confuse the value of and commitment to prayer (normal Christianity and applicable on a general basis) with a particular outward form of prayer (more diverse and calling-dependent). For example, I have observed a lot of hurt and misunderstanding between marketplace people, missions people, and house of prayer people (e.g. story of my friend – “Your purpose is to fund us.”) This often springs from a failure to trust the Spirit’s leadership in the lives of others as much as we trust His leadership in our own (loving our neighbors as ourselves). Sometimes it springs from pride, insecurities, defensiveness, and faulty paradigms. We need to trust Jesus’ leadership in the church.
Romans 14:4 (NIV)
4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
1 Corinthians 7:17-24 (ESV)
17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
G. Having said this, there are also times and circumstances in which God wants all of His people – irrespective of what He calls Paul, David, or Anna to put their hands to outside of the “temple”– to stop everything they are doing in order to gather for corporate prayer with a solemn and sober spirit.
Joel 2:1-17 (NIV)
1Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand— 2a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. 3Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste— nothing escapes them. 4 They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. 5With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle. 6At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. 7 They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. 8They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. 9They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows. 10Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. 11The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? 12 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. 15Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. 17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ”
H. On a group level, a commitment to prayer usually finds expression one of two ways: large group prayer meetings, or small group prayer meetings. Both are valuable and have their practical advantages and challenges. At the end of the age, persecution will increasingly drive us to small group prayer meetings. This is already true in many parts of the world. But the bigger prayer meetings are also valuable so long as we can conduct them.
I. One increasingly popular model and format of prayer is the “Harp and Bowl” model. This is what they use down at IHOP in Kansas City. This model mixes prayer, worship, and spontaneous with the intention of creating an atmosphere of enjoyable prayer. It is inspired by John’s description of worship and prayer as he saw it in his vision of the throne room in Revelation 5.
Revelation 5:8 (NIV)
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
A. At the end of the age, the Bride’s growth in both her identity and function as the house of prayer will be more vital than ever. We will be called to stand pure, holy, and radiant in the face of an anti-Messiah empire and a level of worldwide wickedness more vile than anything the world has ever seen.
Luke 17:22-18:7 (NIV)
22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” 37 “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
8:1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
A. Jesus is zealous for the purity of his house. He is coming back for a fiery, praying, pure, and passionate Bride, not a dull, sleeping, unresponsive, and indifferent people. As the Daniel Training Network, we want to put a stake in the ground in the area of prayer. God wants a fiery praying Bride, then let us become one by His grace! Our solemn assemblies on the first Friday of every month are a small start. But it is a start, and the Lord values it and takes it seriously.
B. I believe that in the coming days we will see God raise up a multi-colored tapestry of prayer for the Bride’s preparation and strengthening. We will see multiple and complimentary outward forms of prayer; undergirded by a common deep commitment and value of prayer; flowing from a unified biblical worldview that motivates prayer.
C. “Solemn assemblies” will become increasingly important for the people of God at the end of the age. When God tells His people to shut down business as usual in order to pray, we had better heed His call. This means everyone: bride, bridegroom, the young and the old, the babies, the priests, the plumbers, the businessmen, the waiters and waitresses, moms and dads.
D. The Day of the Lord is at hand. Matthew 24 is upon us. The Lord has spoken to many credible prophetic voices that the earth is getting ready to enter a time of unprecedented worldwide shaking. It is time for the church to pray.