Intercessory Prayer: Preparing to Pray for Our Nation

Text — Daniel 9:15-19


  1. Introduction
    1. Next Thursday is the National Day of Prayer. We plan to gather with other members of our community at the flag pole in front of the church to pray for our nation.
    2. Three times in his Upper Room discourse Jesus says that we may ask anything and he will do it:
      1. John 14:14, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
      2. John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
      3. John 16:23, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
    3. I was constrained by time and topic when I preached through the discourse, but on a personal level I was struck by the threefold repetition. In the context of praying for our nation I believe we need to realize that we are not simply having a religious gathering. We are coming together as a congregation and a community to pray for our nation. And we need to expect that our intercession will be effective.
    4. For this reason I want to discuss intercessory prayer, and then look at Daniel’s prayer for his nation, which is the theme of the National Day of Prayer this year.
  2. Intercessory prayer (Based upon the chapter on intercessory prayer in Richard Foster’s Book, Prayer – Finding the Heart’s True Home, pp. 191 – 201)
    1. There are several different kinds of prayer. However, at the basic level there are prayers for ourselves, (these are petitions) and prayers for others. Praying for others is intercessory prayer.
      1. Intercession is a way of loving others.
      2. When we move from petition to intercession we are shifting our center of gravity from our own needs to the needs and concerns of others.
    2. In the ongoing work of the kingdom of God, nothing is more important than Intercessory Prayer.
    3. Intercessory prayer is priestly ministry.
      1. One of the most challenging teachings of the New Testament is the universal priesthood of all Christians.
      2. As priests, appointed and anointed by God, we have the honor if going before the Most High on behalf of others.
      3. THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL; IT IS A SACRED OBLIGATION – and a precious privilege.
    4. Example of intercessory prayer Ephesians 1:15-19
      For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
    5. Persistence that wins
      1. When we begin praying for others, we soon discover that it is easy to become discouraged at the results, which seem frustratingly slow and uneven.
      2. This is because we are entering the strange mix of divine influence and human autonomy.
        1. God never compels.
        2. No one is ever forced into a robot style of obedience.
      3. This is where our scripture for the day applies.
        1. Ask and keep on asking
        2. Seek and keep on seeking
        3. Knock and keep on knocking
      4. Organized, Corporate Intercessory Prayer
        1. Intercession is done individually; it is also done corporately. Jesus promises to be present in great power whenever the community of faith is truly gathered in his name
        2. Matthew 18:19-20
          Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.
        3. This brings us to the National Day of Prayer
  3. National Day of Prayer
    1. In 1775 the Continental Congress allocated a time for prayer in forming a new nation. Over the years, there have been calls for a day of prayer, including from President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer.
    2. There have been times when the President has called for prayer because we are faced with external threats. However, today we are faced with a combination of internal and external threats.
      1. Externally we have the threats of terrorism, rogue nations, and perennial enemies.
      2. Internally our nation is divided by the secularists who are destroying our moral, economic and governmental foundations.
    3. It becomes imperative that we join with other Christians across this great land of ours.
    4. Let’s look at Daniel’s intercession for his people as a model for our prayers.
  4. Exposition of the text
    1. 4-6 Confession of sin
      1. We have sinned –
        1. no justification for their actions
        2. Daniel identifies with the nation and assumes his responsibility for the sins.
      2. 5 First by rebelling and turning from God’s commands.
      3. 6 Second by refusing to listen to the prophets
    2. 7-8 Current condition – covered with shame because of unfaithfulness.
      1. In our Wednesday evening Bible study we have been going through the book of Isaiah. When Israel broke its covenant with God they lost their land and were taken into Babylonian captivity.
      2. It seems to me that if America breaks its covenant with God we will lose our blessing and our freedom.
    3. 9 Appeal to God’s merciful character
    4. 11-14 Justification of God for the punishment
    5. 15-19 The appeal for God to turn from his anger and restore them to their land.
      1. Daniel states that they have no righteousness; he appeals on the basis of his great mercy
      2. For your great names sake
        1. Not for our blessing or comfort it’s about God.
      3. Four petitions:
        1. Listen
        2. Forgive
        3. hear
        4. act
  5. Conclusion
    1. As we plan to pray for our nation on Thursday, take some time to pray privately using you insert as a guide, so that we may pray effectively corporately.