BREAKTHROUGH PRAYER STUDY
Prayer Week 1
Welcome to the first week of our Breakthrough Prayer study. This is your invitation to participate in a journey to heighten your awareness of the importance of prayer for the Christian disciple. Prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines through which we can tap into the heart and mind of God. All of the great leaders in the Bible were great not because they were perfect. They were not. It was not because they came from privileged pasts – some did and some did not. They became great because they “tuned” in to God’s heart and mind. Prayer became the source of their strength, their power, and their wisdom.
Digging into the Text
One of the most inspirational examples of prayer is the story of Daniel in the Old Testament. Daniel was one of the young Jewish slaves that was imported from Judah when Babylon conquered the land several hundred years before Jesus. So he was surviving in a strange land with strange food and strange customs and strange language. We have no mention of family, so we can assume they were killed in the war or deported into their own slavery.
Yet, Daniel is not overcome with all the despair and hopelessness of his situation. In fact, he seems to thrive in this strange, foreign environment. How does he do this? How does a young man alone and far from home keep his wits about him?
Here is the story found in Daniel 6:10-23 (NRSV). The document was a plot by Daniel’s enemies to make illegal prayer to any authority except the King.
Daniel in the Lions’ Den
10 Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. 11 The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God. 12 Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, “O king! Did you not sign an interdict, that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions?” The king answered, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.”
14 When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed. He was determined to save Daniel, and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him. 15 Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
16 Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” 17 A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, so that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no food was brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
Daniel Saved from the Lions
19 Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. 20 When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel was fully aware of the risks and penalties of prayer. He also knew that he could not survive in this foreign environment without the faithfulness of prayer. So he made his choice preferring to trust in God’s grace instead of the King’s vanity.
Prayer is not a Christmas wish list. God is not a heavenly Santa Claus. Prayer is not a news report to inform God of how things are going. God already knows. Prayer is a tuning of our hearts and minds to God’s heart and mind.
1. What was the character or nature of Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 6?
2. What disciplines or practices help “tune” your heart and mind to God?
3. Bill Hybels writes: “The greatest fulfillment in my prayer life has not been the list of miraculous answers to prayers I have received, although that has been wonderful. The greatest thrill has been the qualitative difference in my relationship with God.” (Too Busy Not To Pray, p. 9) How has prayer enhanced your relationship with God?
1. Try the habit of praying the Breakthrough Prayer sometime each day for the next few weeks – the duration of this study. You may want to set an alarm on your phone or place the card somewhere you will see it every day. Here is the prayer:
2. Breakthrough Prayer
“Lord, I pray for breakthroughs in my life, my church, and the world. Give me faith to see your Spirit at work. Reveal what you want to do through me. I trust in your grace in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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