As national elections loom … as we feel threatened by COVID-19 … as we struggle with our health, businesses, schools and each other … we are in crisis. While we are challenged to pray, and we know we need to pray, and we are assured that God’s blessing is conditioned on our prayers, how effective are our petitions? Do we really know how and what to pray?
When I lack words in prayer, or thoughts about how to pray, I often turn to Scripture and use the words or patterns found there in the prayers of others. One prayer I have used in praying for America is the prayer that the Prophet Daniel prayed long ago for his nation. Daniel had been living as a slave in captivity for 67 years when he poured out his heart to God on behalf of his people, who had come under God’s judgment …
Read Daniel 9:1-23
I. Effective Prayer Is Compelled (Daniel 9:1-2)
A. Compelled by Problems in the World
- Based on the following verses, describe the Babylonians: Genesis 10:8-10; 11:1-9; 2 Kings 24:20; 25:1-7.
- Understanding that Daniel and his people were held in captivity in Babylon, describe some of the problems they faced.
- What are some of the problems America is facing today?
- Why should problems compel us to pray? See Exodus 3:9-10 and 2 Chronicles 7:13-14.
B. Compelled by Promises in the Word
- On what was Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 based? How does this apply to your own prayer life? Are your prayers based on your wants—or on God’s Word?
- List the promises Daniel claimed from Jeremiah 29:10-15.
- What are some of the promises that you and I could appeal to on behalf of our nation? Include 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 as well as others you can think of.
- Read Deuteronomy 28. What are some of the promises, commands and warnings that could apply to America?
II. Effective Prayer Is Centered (Daniel 9:3-19)
- Re-read Daniel 9:3. In order “to turn to the Lord,” what do you think Daniel had to turn from? Relate this to Matthew 6:6; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:18.
- In Matthew 6:16-18, what word did Jesus use that indicates fasting is not optional for you and me?
- What do you learn from Elijah’s example of fasting in 1 Kings 17:1; 18:42; and James 5:16-18?
- What do you need to turn from in order to center down in prayer?
III. Effective Prayer Is Confident
- How does Hebrews 11:6 say we are to approach God?
- How does Daniel refer to God in 9:4? Can you refer to God in the same way?
- What phrases from the following verses reveal Daniel’s confidence in God’s character: Daniel 9:4, 7, 9, 15?
- When you pray, what is the basis for your expectancy that God will hear and answer?
- What other prerequisite for confidence in prayer is found in Hebrews 10:19-23? Do you meet this prerequisite?
IV. Effective Prayer Is Contrite
- Give specific phrases that reveal the basic problem Daniel addressed in 9:5, 8-11.
- How did this problem affect his people’s relationship with God? Read Daniel 9:6-8.
- How did this affect their national security? Read Daniel 9:12-14.
- How did this affect their relationship with other nations? Read Daniel 9:16.
- Apply each of the answers above to America.
- Count the personal pronouns Daniel used in 9:4-16. Are they singular or plural? What do you learn from this?
- From Daniel 9:3, give the phrases that reveal Daniel’s attitude in prayer.
- What does this teach us about how to pray for the people around us?
V. Effective Prayer Is Clear
- List the phrases that specify exactly what Daniel is asking God to do in 9:16-19.
- What fundamental reason does Daniel give God for answering his prayer in 9:19?
- Write out your specific requests for America, based on Daniel’s prayer.
VI. Effective Prayer Is Confirmed (Daniel 9:20-23)
- How long did it take Daniel to receive confirmation that his prayer had been heard? Read 9:20-21.
- Do you think Daniel would have received insight into his people’s national situation had he not prayed? Read 9:20.
- When was Daniel’s prayer answered? Read 9:23.
- When did Daniel actually receive the answer to his specific requests? See Ezra 1:1-5.
- Do you think Daniel’s people would have been restored to their foundation of faith and to God’s place of blessing if Daniel had not prayed for them? See James 4:2 and Jeremiah 10:21.
- Based on your prayers, how likely is it that America will return to her foundation of faith and therefore, to God’s blessing?
Father, while we have been pointing our fingers at the sins of others, we feel the intense, fiery gaze of Your holiness directed at us—Your people. We choose now to humbly bow at the foot of the cross, seek a fresh vision of Who You are, and pray. Our hearts are broken and contrite for our own sin and that of our nation. As we specifically confess our sin, we ask that You would hear our prayer, forgive our sin and please, dear God … heal our land. For the glory of Your Name, amen. ©2020 Anne Graham Lotz
For more details on how to pray for America, please see: “The Daniel Prayer” by Anne Graham Lotz, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2016.
This article is adapted from a study originally published in September 2016 titled “Prayer That Changes a Nation.”
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “The Light of His Presence,” contains 40 of Anne’s personal prayers and is available through major booksellers and online at AnneGrahamLotz.org
Above: Anne Graham Lotz leads people in a prayer of repentance from the Capitol lawn at Prayer March 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/©2020 BGEA