The Clear Word 

A Ministry Of Mid-State Ministries  


DANIEL 2:16

[16] Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
 
Here we see the amazing courage of Daniel.  He goes right to the very one who had ordered his very execution.  Daniel asks the king to delay the mass execution.  And that if he would give Daniel time, he would bring the king the proper interpretation of the king's dream.








DANIEL 2:17

[17] Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
 
We see in Daniel 6:10, that is was Daniel's daily practice to open the windows of his house toward Jerusalem, and pray three times per day.
 
For millennia the Jews have used the prayer model given to us by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13.  When a Jew properly prays using this prayer model, it will take them approximately one hour to complete the prayer. 
 
The Model Prayer taught to us by Jesus in Matthew 9-13. 
 
"This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'"
Prayer is a common practice for all religions. Muslims pray at least five times a day. The Jews pray three times a day. Christians also pray. Prayer is one of the most essential parts of our Christian life. What is the title of the conference? How can we seek first God's kingdom and righteousness? We need faith, right? Well, it is often said that prayer is the supreme expression of our faith in God. It is our spiritual lifeline. Prayer is a chance for us to communicate with God on a personal and intimate level. Prayer is good and necessary for our spiritual life. But prayer is practically one of the hardest things for us to do. The reason is because often we don't know why to pray, how to pray, and what to pray for. We also don't know the character of the one we are praying to. When this happens, our prayer becomes shallow and we become hypocrites. How can we pray in a healthy and proper way that is spiritually edifying then?

In this passage, Jesus teaches the model prayer. He teaches his disciples, first, the motive and attitude they must have when they pray. Then he teaches the method of prayer and finally the content of prayer. Jesus' own words in verses 9b-13 are often called the Lord's Prayer. It is the model that all Christians can follow as a guide to help them to engage in a spiritually healthy prayer life. Tonight, let us seek first God's kingdom and righteousness through our prayer. Let us learn from Jesus' words so that we can pray to God, our Father, from our hearts with the right motive and attitude. And most importantly, let us learn the clear and unselfish prayer topics we can pray for as his prayer servants in this generation.
 
THE ATTITUDE OF PRAYER TO GOD (5-8)
Look at verse 5. "And when you pray, do no be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." The first part of the model prayer is having the right attitude and motive. What is in our heart determines the sincerity of our prayer. The hypocrites that Jesus speaks of look like they are praying to God, but they are actually putting on a show for men to see. Their prayers are given not to God but to men and for men to see. Their motive in prayer is to receive honor and glory for themselves. Jesus says that they have received their reward in full. This is the wrong way to pray. So what is the right way?

Look at verse 6. "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." The right motive in prayer is not to show people but to show God our hearts. It is to have an intimate and personal conversation with Him, as our Father. The attitude must be that of faith in our Father who is unseen. When prayer is done properly with the right attitude, God is the center and he alone is glorified and honored; moreover, because he is our Father in heaven he promises to answer our prayer and give us our reward. We have a great privilege in prayer and Jesus encourages us to exercise this privilege. It may seem strange at first when we go into our room or closet alone and start speaking to God. But when we do so, God makes himself known to us and we can cultivate a personal relationship with him. Jesus taught this by example. Mark 1:35 says, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Jesus prayed daily in order to maintain his father/son relationship with God and to receive direction in his ministry. When Jesus prayed, he was in communion with his Father and his Father was pleased by his faith. Prayer is spending precious and quality quiet time alone with our Father God. Jesus was not excluding other forms of prayer such as two-by-two or in a group. Rather he was emphasizing the importance of personal prayer.

From the motives of praying, Jesus now turns to the methods of praying. This is the second part of the model prayer and is closely linked to the first because why one prays determines how one prays. Look at verse 7-8. "And when you pray, do not keep babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." There is nothing inherently wrong with repeated prayers or lengthy prayers. Jesus taught the importance of persistent prayer (Lk 18:1-8) in his parable on the persistent widow who persistently came to the judge with a plea, "Grant me justice against my adversary." The judge finally granted her request because he didn't want to get worn out by her persistent plea. God answers the persistent prayer of his children. Jesus also repeatedly prayed the same thing in the garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:39,42,44) before he was crucified. He prayed "Father take this cup from me yet not as I will, but as you will," until he was ready to finish his mission. In that instance, he prayed all night and sometimes he prayed only very briefly. But it is not the length or style of prayer that is important but rather the quality and strength of prayer. Prayer must be done with a sincere outpouring of one's heart and not with the empty recitation of words and the accumulation of religious verbiage. We should not try to impress God with all the impressive spiritual-sounding words we can think of. We must not babble because it is only a disguise for not knowing what to say. God is not impressed with our learned prayers but with the genuine cry of our heart. Pagans babble many words to a dead idol. But our God is a living God, who hears and answers our sincere prayers. Even when we don't know what to say and only groan to God in words that cannot be expressed, God hears and understands what is in our heart. It is our expression of faith and submission. He is happy when we turn to him for help in our time of need. Here we learn that we can have the right motive and method of prayer when we have faith in God. With faith, prayer becomes an act of total confidence and assurance in the plan and purpose of God in our lives. Hebrews 11:6 says, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." We need faith to seek first God's kingdom and righteousness through our prayer.

THE CONTENTS OF PRAYER TO GOD (9-15)
In verses 9-13, Jesus teaches the contents of prayer to God. Let's read verses 9-13 together. "This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'" These verses are the model of prayer that all Christians must follow and is rightly called the Lord's Prayer. It contains six key points that are the essential prayer topics of all God's people. The first three are for God's glory and for his kingdom to come; the last three are for God to meet man's daily needs until his kingdom arrives. Let's think about these six prayer topics.

First,  "Our Father in heaven." Jesus taught his disciples to call God, "Father". Jesus was introducing a new relationship between God and his people. If Jesus taught that the method of praying to God must be intimate and personal, then it naturally follows that he be addressed in an intimate and personal manner. How much more intimate and personal than calling him in the familiar "Father"! This is like saying "Daddy!" This was a radical new teaching to the Jewish people. In the past, the Jews knew God only as the Almighty Creator and Holy God; they dared not call God even by his name, Yahweh. He was too holy for sinners. But Jesus was telling his disciples to address God as if he was their own father. How is it possible for sinners to call God, "Father"? It is because Jesus gave them the right. John 1:12 says, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…" Through faith in Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, our sins are forgiven and we become children of God. The Holy Spirit dwells within us and enables us to cry out, "Abba, Father." (Rom 8:15)
The word "Father" is a symbol of security and dependence. When children call their "Daddy" they do so with faith and trust that their "Daddy" will protect and provide for them. They have no barrier between them and they can be free to talk. "Father" does not mean dictator so children can freely approach without fear. Many of us here are fathers. Shep. Bruce Hollinger has a daughter and twin sons and he does his best to protect them and provide their every need. He said that he constantly thinks about them to see if they need anything. If their shoes are too worn out, he'll get them new ones. If he is there, then the Hollinger kinds have nothing to fear and want. Likewise, God is constantly watching over us as our Father. He wants to provide the very best to his children who call to him. Let us exercise our privilege as children of God and call him "Father."

Jesus taught that the first prayer topic is to call God, "Father." When we do so, we enter into a spiritual family which is comprised of people, from every language and every nation, throughout the entire world and throughout all history, who have been saved by Jesus' blood. Ephesians 4:4-6 say, "There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Calling God "Father" and being accepted as one of his people enables us to pray for our dear brothers and sisters in Christ in China, North Korea and Muslim Nations. Tonight we will hear a report on China by Missionaries Joe Park and Philip Brown. They spent their youth serving students. Philip even is engaged to Sarah Hwang, a Chinese shepherdess; they are total opposites of each other. How can Americans be willing to go to China in their youth and serve people they have almost nothing in common with and live in a culture totally unknown? It is only because God is their Father and they are children of God. The Chinese people are God's children so, as children of God, we must love and care for them as our own brothers and sisters, even sacrificing our youth, time and energy to go to a foreign land. Calling God Father is truly the first step to obeying the Great Commission and having World Mission Vision.
Second, "Hallowed be your name." The verb to hallow means to make holy or to set apart for holy use. "Hallowed be your name" can be translated as "May your name be sanctified, consecrated, and respected. Hallowing of God's name is an act of reverence, honor, and respect to the Almighty, Holy, and Creator God. Although we can call him Father, we must remember who we are coming to. In the past, God's chosen people did not hallow his name. Rather they disrespected and profaned it. Ezekiel 36:21 says, "I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone." Even today, many people reject and dishonor God's name. To many, God's name has become the butt of jokes and ridicule. But to some, especially in the political world, it became a point of deliberate denial and unbelief, for the sake of political correctness. Even recently the chief of Navy chaplains has forbidden the public prayer in Jesus' name. The present reality that we live in may not be conducive to the hallowing of God's name. But one day God will gather his people from all nations, cleanse them, and by this means vindicate his holy name. The hallowing of God's name means the arrival of God's kingdom. As we pray, "Hallowed be your name," let us bring honor and glory to his name by the way we live in this world until his kingdom comes.

Third, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." So what does "Your kingdom come" mean? It essentially means let your rule come. "Your kingdom come" is a reference to God's spiritual reign over all creation. Since the Fall of Man, this world has been under the rule of Satan. Satan's kingdom is a kingdom of oppression and despair. But God pronounced his kingdom coming back in the time of Abraham and began to fulfill it through Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Luke 17:20b-21, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,' or ‘There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." Matthew's gospel is focused on the kingdom of heaven. The theme of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus wants us to take hold of this kingdom. God's kingdom gives eternal life. God's kingdom will be complete when all evil is destroyed and God establishes, once and for all, the new heaven and the new earth. But that day has not come yet. There is still a spiritual warfare raging on all around us. Jesus calls us to be spiritual prayer warriors and soldiers of the cross of Christ. When we engage in this spiritual warfare in our own neighborhoods, campuses, and even abroad to many foreign nations, God's kingdom begins to spread, expand, and finally come into the hearts of all people. Therefore, as our third prayer topic, Jesus says that we must pray for God's kingdom to come and for his will to be done on earth as it is heaven.

The root problem of every nation in this world is not a system but godlessness and a lack of God's rule. This is especially evident in the lives of many college students. In their quest for education, many students are not taught about God's rule in the universities. Rather, they are exposed only to the sinfulness of mankind, that is, man's desire to rule themselves. They come up with their ingenuous attempts to solve the world's problems, such as better systems of government, the advancement of science and technology, and improving sociological behavior. The truth is that with a lack of God's rule, these man-made attempts solve nothing. Take a look at the United Nations as a premier example for the attempt at world peace. Ivy League university students from Harvard, Princeton, and Yale were once taught the sovereignty of God in the hopes to raise spiritual leaders. But today, many graduates are taught only selfish liberal thinking and greed for money. So when students graduate, they have no idea how to truly change the world and live a life with meaning and purpose. We must pray that our Lord and King may rule over every sphere of human life: in government, commerce, science, family life, and especially in education. We must pray that God's kingdom comes into the universities through the raising of 100,000 professor shepherds who teach in the context of God's kingdom and will. Thank God for sending Dr. Richard Anderson and Dr. Steve Haga as pioneers of Duke University and Penn State Erie as professor shepherds, respectively. May God use them as godly shepherds for his flock! When God's rule and kingdom come into godly campuses, then true spiritual leaders can be raised, all problems can be solved, and we have true peace in this world. May God's kingdom come in the campuses of North America, especially in the 206 campuses of the East Coast!

This concludes the first three prayer topics. As we have already seen, the first three concern God and the coming of his kingdom and will. Now we will talk about the last three topics; they concern man's basic needs until God's kingdom comes. If we compare this passage to this morning's, we can see that Matthew 6:33 is a summation of the Lord's Prayer. But seek first his kingdom and righteousness covers the first three topics. And all these things will be given to you as well covers the last three.

Fourth, "Give us today our daily bread." Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for their daily bread. This prayer topic is a sign of dependence on God to provide daily sustenance. Jesus says to pray for "daily bread", not "weekly or monthly or even yearly bread." He wants us to trust God for his provision each and every day. It is a reminder of God who provided the daily manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. God is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides (Gen 22:14). God is our father and we are his children and he is more than willing to provide everything we need if only we ask him. We mustn't worry about providing for ourselves. As we learned this morning, we must "seek first God's kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to us as well." Jesus said to pray for "our" daily bread. But many people, especially among Jesus' own disciples, interpret this topic using the word "my" daily bread. We need to see God's point of view and pray for "our" daily bread. This means that we need to think of others needs as well and we need to seek for God's provision together. Our daily sustenance is both physical and spiritual bread. We need to ask God to supply both in order for us to survive in this world. Physical bread comes from physical food but spiritual bread comes from the word of God. Daily bread devotionals, bible reading, and bible study is God's perfect provision to satisfy our spiritual hunger. Let's depend on God in prayer for our daily bread.

Fifth, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Here "Debts" are the same as "Sins". Bread is important for our survival and we need it every day. But forgiveness of sins is even more important and we need this every day; otherwise we are still in sin. Asking for God's forgiveness is man's way to maintain his daily one-to-one walk with God. We can do this by first repenting of our own sins first and then forgiving others who have sinned against us.
 
Forgiving others is very difficult to do practically. It is perhaps more difficult than praying itself. People say that they can forgive but they can't forget. This is not forgiveness at all. But Jesus teaches us to pray to forgive our debtors unconditionally. He taught Peter this principle of forgiveness in Matthew 18:21-22. "Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Jesus stresses the topic's importance further by saying in verses 14-15, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." How can we do this? We must remember that God is our Father and we are his children. We are children only because of his grace and mercy on us sinners. There is nothing that makes us better than others in God's eyes. We are equally sinful and equally saved. When we have this humble view of ourselves in the context of God's spiritual family then we can freely forgive others unconditionally every day. Coworking in God's ministry is very difficult as many of you know. Sometimes we hurt each other with our actions and words. Sometimes we end up competing with each other and in the process hurt someone in the fellowship. This occurs everywhere; it occurred in Jesus' time, probably with James, John, and Peter. But Jesus says that we must forgive those who hurt us. Because we are, ourselves, debtors to God and God forgave us through Jesus' love, we must also forgive unconditionally and eternally with Jesus' love. We must maintain Jesus' unity of love in our fellowship through forgiveness. What better example than from Jesus himself, who prayed on the cross for his enemies, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."

Sixth, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." This last prayer topic is a plea for the providential help of God in our daily confrontation with the temptation of sin. Here the "evil one" is the devil. Some people think that the devil is a myth, like the boogie man, but he is very real. 1 Peter 5:8 says that "your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." The devil's greatest weapon is temptation. He used temptation to cause Adam and Eve to fall from grace. Today he uses the obvious temptation of sex, drugs, and alcohol to cause men to sin against God. But he also uses the more subtle temptation such as pride, jealousy, and lust to destroy lives. Some people think that they can handle temptation but that is a mistake. We need God's help because only God through his son Jesus was able to overcome all of Satan's temptations in the desert, even the last temptation to deny the cross. Hebrews 2:18 says, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."

It is a fact that temptation from the evil one is strongest when we are seeking first God's kingdom and righteousness. In this high-tech world of instant media and electronics, we are tempted in all directions from seeking God first. Children are tempted with TV and video games and students are tempted with endless AIM chatting, blogging, and Xangas. Adults are tempted with sports, especially playoff football games in Seattle. How can we seek first God's kingdom while temptations rage all around us? We can follow Jesus' example from Matthew 4 in his battle with Satan in the desert. Each temptation from Satan was met by Jesus' phrase, "It is written." We can survive our daily encounter with temptation by fixing our eyes on Jesus and holding on to God's word daily. We must not forget our key verses this year only to remember it next year. We must hold on to our key verses each and every day in order to survive the barrage of deadly temptations. And we must pray to God for his help so that we can be delivered from Satan's temptations.

Even though I'm standing here tonight lecturing on the Lord's Prayer and the importance of praying to my Father in heaven, I have to confess that I struggle with prayer. I struggled a lot with maintaining a daily prayer life all throughout 2005. Sometimes I didn't want to pray. Sometimes when I did want to pray, I didn't know what to pray for. Sometimes distractions and temptations prevented me from praying. Sometimes my body just wouldn't wake up. It was difficult to keep this relationship with God pure and constant. That's why I chose Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful," as my 2006 key verse. I thank God because through this passage, I learned who I'm praying to, that is, my Father in heaven. He bears with my struggles to pray and doesn't condemn me but draws me closer to him. He wants me to call him "Daddy" in the same way that my son Joshua calls me "Dadda." He wants me to pray for his kingdom to come and will to be done in the GMU campus and among our bible students. I pray that this year, I may devote myself and seek first God's kingdom and righteousness through my prayer life.

Jesus taught us about prayer; why to pray, how to pray, and what to pray for. He taught us who we are praying to. Prayer is a barometer of a Christian's life. The prayer example Jesus set is a set of guidelines for our lifestyle as Christians. We need to know how to do it and live it properly in order to take hold of the kingdom of heaven. Our Lord Jesus' prayer is the perfect model to follow as a guide to communicating with God our Father. Through this conference may God enable us to seek first his kingdom and righteousness through a fervent prayer life. May we pray for his kingdom to come into the hearts of many students from all nations and for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! May God raise future spiritual leaders in this generation through our one-to-one bible study and daily prayer! Let's read the Lord's Prayer together, verses 9-13.

"This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."









DANIEL 2:18

[18] That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
 
Daniel and his companions are aware they are asking God for something He normally would not do.  And that is to not only reveal to them the proper interpretation of the kings dream, but also to reveal to them what the dream was. 
 
They desired mercies of God.  This means that they besought God to bestow upon them a very special love and consideration.  In that Daniel did not want to see him and his Jewish companions have to die with the ungodly royal court of Babylon.








DANIEL 2:19

[19] Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
 
For a moment, let's take a look at the word supernatural.  What the word supernatural means, is that when we have exhausted all the natural that we can possibly do, God then kicks in the super.  Hence, a supernatural event.
 
Daniel had exhausted all the natural he could possibly do.  In return, God rewarded Daniel by giving him the dream and the proper interpretation.
 
We also see that Daniel was a man of gratitude.  He responded to God's most tender mercies by having a moment of thanksgiving.  God is aware that we could never repay Him for the goodness, kindness and patience which He shows toward us.  But He would like a moment of prayerful consideration. 







DANIEL 2:20-23

[20] Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: [21] And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: [22] He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. [23] I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.
 
For Daniel 2:20-23, may I refer back to my notes in Daniel 2:19





DANIEL 2:24

[24] Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.
 
I am quite taken by Daniel's courage.  He went straight to the man who had been, ordained, to kill him and all of his companions.  The English word ordained comes from the Hebrew word mna'/men-aw'.  It means an imperial appointment.  At times it can be used for a Divine appointment. 
 
The wise men of this verse are from the exact same college of wise men in the Gospels who came seeking the Christ child.  If these wise men in the days of Daniel would have died as per the ordination of King Nebuchadnezzar, quite possibly, there would have been no wise men in the Gospels.





DANIEL 2:25


[25] Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
 
In some cases Daniel might have been brought to a lower  judicial representative of the king.  In this case Nebuchadnezzar is handling most all details himself, Apparently, this dream has had an effect on Nebuchadnezzar in which he cannot just let it go. 
 
For right now, the entire future of planet earth is about to be discussed between a Babylonian Emperor and a Jewish captive.