The Prayer and Fasting of Daniel
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 30, Jan 2018
Scripture Reading; Daniel 9:1-5; 20-23
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea , whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
Philip Newell says Daniel 9 is the greatest chapter in the book of Daniel and one of the greatest chapters of the entire bible. If one were to choose the ten greatest chapters of the bible on the subject of prayer and fasting, this chapter would be included on the list. If one were to learn from another on the life of Prayer and Fasting, Daniel would be the ideal example.
Prayer and fasting has been a regular and disciplined life of Daniel and as a result of that he knows his God. In Daniel chapter 1, we learn of Daniel’s fast because he doesn’t want to eat the King’s delicacies which are offered to idols. Then in Daniel chapter 9, we learn of Daniel’s fast for the times of Israel’s desolation is up; that the return of Jews to their own land is imminent. And finally in Daniel chapter 10, famously coined by many bible scholar’s as Daniel’s Fast we learn of his three weeks of fasting to understand future events. The double theme of Daniel 9 is first fasting and prayer and second prophecy. To fast simply means to voluntarily abstain from eating for a prayerfully chosen period of time. Biblical fasting is a discipline of voluntarily denying one’s self eating in order to be more available for prayer and communion with the Lord. And we have to admit that fasting has been a habitual and regimented life of Daniel. Prophecy on the other hand is the foretelling or prediction of what is to come.
Somehow prophecy does come about as a result of fasting. A friend and neighbor called recently her pastor’s friend to say that she had suffered a stroke in one eye. When the pastor went to see her, she asked him to have a cup of coffee. As she poured from the coffee pot, they both noticed the coffee was missing the cup. The stroke had taken the friend’s vision from one eye, seriously affecting her perception. Men who live independently of God, go about their lives one-eyed, are able to only see what is immediately before them. It is easy to understand the “now generation;” they cannot see beyond the present. Prophecy puts present-day living in the context of future certainties. You live your present life with a perspective on future events that you know for certain will take place. Prophecy is God’s way of giving the Christian understanding of future events. And often this comes about like Daniel, because of Prayer and fasting.
How is this applicable to me? There are promises, future events concerning your life in relation to your family, your enemies, that become clear and imminent when one goes about in the area of Fasting and Prayer.
Let’s understand some basic elements in the prescription of prayer and fasting from Daniel himself.
1. Purposeful Planning
Daniel 9:3 says, ‘And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.’
In Daniel 10:2-3 it gives a clearer picture of what is involved in Fasting; ‘In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.’
It was firstly a purposeful planning. Daniel’s fasting and prayer was no haphazard matter. There was no repetition of idle words or putting together of pretty phrases with flowery grammar. Great as Daniel may be, he reads from the scrolls of the prophets. It seems for sure he had read the scroll of his contemporary prophet, Ezekiel because he describes YHWH’s throne in a similar way to that of Ezekiel. Also many of the words and phrases Daniel uses are found in the scroll of Prophet Isaiah. And in this chapter we are told specifically that Daniel was familiar with the prophecy of Jeremiah. In Daniel 9:2 it says, ‘In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books (the scrolls) the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.’ We must know our bible. The bible will always redirect our compass in life when we are swayed by the directions the world takes. The bible always brings us back to the reality of life and what is important and what is not important in life. For Daniel he was there when a Great Empire arose. He was also there when the Empire was in Transition. He saw the world’s empire in relationship to his God and his people. He was always pondering about the future events and also the future of his people. Do you wonder about your City, your country and your future and the future of this church? We are living in a time of transition like that of Daniel where the Babylonian Empire was replaced by the Media Persian Empire. I know that the presidency of Donald Trump and Duterte has stirred up great controversy on both sides of the camp. But a child of God always must see things differently like Daniel who saw the installation of a new leadership in the person of Darius. Daniel understood the significance of those 70 years of desolation of Israel is up. God has intended 70 years of punishment for Israel and that 70 years is up.
I do not know about you. I am looking for answer. I understand the significance of our times. Hosea 6:2 says, ‘After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.’ We know that Peter said a day with the LORD is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.’ Since Christ ascension, two days has passed; two thousand years has passed. This is the year 2018. I know the Jewish calendar is a little different from our Calendar. The Jewish calendar is similar to that of the Chinese calendar where they have a lunar New Year. But whatever it is, it is close. And actually we are in the threshold of the third day or the third thousand years.’ It implies that the millennium is upon us. Hosea says, on the third day he will restore us that we may live in his presence. It is a reference to the rapture and the millennium reign.
What was Daniel’s reaction to what God has foreordained concerning Jeremiah’s prophecy? What is our reaction to what God has foreordained concerning the end times: the rapture, the second Coming of Christ? What is your reaction concerning the promises, the will of God for your life and the events he assures you will take place? Do you know that Jeremiah’s prophecy of Israel 70 years of desolation is not conditional to character; that means God will do it in spite of our character. It is unconditional. It will take place no matter what. Mankind has lived for 6000 years and the 7th thousand years is around the corner. God rested on the 7th day and the 7th thousands years, known as the millennia will be a time of peace and rest. But in between that 6000 years and 7000 years is a 7 year tribulation or the 70th week of the Jeremiah’s prophecy; the last week of Jeremiah’s prophecy. And it will take place no matter what. We are in the threshold of the 7 years tribulation and the 1000 year millennium. Daniel studied the word of God. He read the prophet Jeremiah and that Israel would be in captivity for 70 years and 70 years is up. The determining factor that brought Daniel to this special time of fasting and prayer was his study of the word of God. The word reveals the will of God. There are promises that Daniel read that are meant for His people and meant to be fulfilled. Daniel acknowledges that God keeps covenant and mercy to them that love Him. He not only makes promises but He keeps them. He is immutable and therefore He is faithful. He is also a God of mercy. God has spoken to you concerning promises that were given to you through His word. The word of God reveals the will of God for your immediate future. I believe that Praying and Fasting will bring about the fulfillment of those promises and the will of God.
2. Painful performance
Secondly it was a painful performance. I think when we tell this church of our intention to enter into a month of fasting and prayer; there are discomfort, fear and oppression. Pastor James has been communicating with me. He told me that he fetched Michael Barcelona to his church two Saturday ago. Mike played the drum for his congregation and led in worship in corporate prayer last Friday. He told me Mike is fine. Also Pastor James was giving me some prophetic download which he received after 80 days of fasting and prayer. Sadhu Sundar vetted his prophetic download and was surprised by Pastor James’ fast because Sadhu Sundar, too was into 80 days of fasting and prayer. When I heard about the 80 days of fasting and prayer, I am silent. Why? Because it is a painful performance. I think the longest we did was 40 days of fasting and prayer; even then it was a partial fast and yet it was no easy feat. We have undertaken 30 days of full fast in that we only drank milo, water melon and water. It was difficult. It was difficult for Daniel because I believed his was a full fast. It was made more difficult because Daniel has a secular job to attend to. It definitely was not done out of outward show but to reveal the sincerity of the heart of the person fasting and praying. So from Monday onwards when we are fasting it was not an outward how but to reveal our heart that needs God for certain needs in your life.
There is the pain of fasting. Fasting is not easy. Daniel use phrases like sackcloth and mourning. The pain of fasting is twofold. First the physical pain; due to the detoxification of our bodies. All the accumulated poison and garbage started to come into our blood and we feel dreadful. Secondly the soulish pain; due to conflict in the spiritual realm between your flesh and the Spirit of God. You will be brought to painful issues in your life: repent of your wicked ways, stop running from him and start trusting him. You will be attacked by demonic forces seeking to induce you to give up the fast.
3. Perfect Plainness
Daniel 9:4-5; 10-11 ‘And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the Law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
Thirdly it was perfect plainness. The confession of Daniel was detailed and long and sincere. His confession covers 17 verses out of 27 verses in Daniel 9. It was a list of willful covenant disobedience which Israel has violated the covenant over again and again. Aren’t we like that? I loved Daniel 9:4-20. I have made it my prayer at times. Try it in the closest and you will be in tears. I pray the same prayer towards God. Daniel was candid and straightforward in his confession. Even Daniel had not sinned; we are not told of any sins that he has committed, yet he identifies himself with his people back there in Israel when they rebelled against God. We are definitely not Daniel. We have sinned and we must be like Daniel; candid and straightforward.
He is specific in his confession. He labels each sin; iniquity, wickedness, rebellion, disobedience and refusal to hear God’s prophets. He writes them all down. He doesn’t leave anything out. My Friend, I believe our confession of sins requires exactly that. It isn’t enough to go to God and says, ‘I have sinned.’ Confession means to tell God exactly what we have done. When pastor lily send me to the grocery store, she doesn’t say, get some groceries. Actually before I came back to the Philippines recently, she gave me a list of items. I was to get this, get that and get the other things. I have to look at the list. I feel that confession should be that specific. Daniel was very specific. Maybe we don’t like to do that because it is an ugly thing. But spell it out to him. He already knows how ugly it is. We need to come to him in frank, open confession.
Prayer and fasting is a time we humble ourselves before you God. Hidden sins are revealed and discarded. So that our God can hear our prayer.
4. Powerful Petition with Powerful Encounter
Fourthly it was a powerful petition with powerful encounter. Daniel fasted to purpose himself to encounter God more by praying and fasting. What was the result of Daniel’s prayer and fasting. Notice that Daniel gets an immediate answer to his prayer. Dr Gaebelein says that it took him three minutes to read Daniel’s prayer in Hebrew. By the time Daniel finished his prayer; the angel Gabriel was there. So Dr. Gaebelein reasoned and explained with a twinkle in his eye. ‘It took Gabriel three minutes to get from heaven to earth.’ Of course, if Daniel had his eyes closed while he was praying, it may be that Gabriel was standing on one foot and then on the other for two minutes, waiting for Daniel to get finished. The Lord God has promised. ‘And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.’
We started our message that Daniel knew the time of Israel’s desolation is up. God has completed his punishment of Israel’s sin and Daniel enters into Prayer and Fasting because he knows from the Word of God that God is about to fulfill His will. What are the spiritual laws that God designed so that His will can be done on earth as it is in heaven? It’s prayer. Daniel understood that truth. Prayers from God’s people serve as a conduit to release His will from the spiritual realm into the earth realm. Prayer is the essential element. A bible school teacher likens this spiritual law to a power plant. The power plant is there and eager to release its power to whatever needs it. So let’s say you have a light bulb that you want to use to manifest light. The power plant is where it is ready to release electrical power. The light bulb is with you ready to receive the electricity. But there is a missing part . . . the conduit – the wires. Once the right wires are in place the power plant can release the power – and the light bulb can receive it. The same is with our amazing Father. He is in heaven full of power, love, mercy and grace. His will is to have His power released in the earth to relieve burdens, bring order to chaos, heal the brokenhearted, remove disease and so much more. But before His power can be released there needs to be the conduit – men and women declaring His will through their prayer and fasting, Intercessors are required to stand in the gap for those who can’t pray for themselves. Last Friday it was Joel and Cheng that gave Sis Kabayao a lift to our house for cell group. On the way they were discussing about really good, righteous, holy Catholic but don’t know the way of God. When they arrived Robert joined in agreement that there are so many good Catholics but they can’t seem to be set free from bondages and understand the way of Christ. Pastor Lily and I say that the only way is for just one man to stand in the gap. One man is powerful enough to stand in the gap and tear down the veil for these good Catholics to be enlightened. This comes about through prayer and fasting. Prayer warriors must voice the will of God for the needs in our world.
Not only Daniel received immediate answer to his prayer. But he has angelic visitation. You could say that it was an encounter in revelation. Daniel has celestial visitation in the person of Angel Gabriel. Gabriel is a messenger Angel. This is something that is interesting; good angels may be constantly employed as Gabriel was; that whenever prayer is offered on earth they may be commissioned to bring answers of peace and mercy, or despatched to render aid, and that thus the universe may be constantly traversed by these holy beings ministering to those who are “heirs of salvation” especially those in the discipline of prayer and fasting
Daniel was offered insight and understanding; two qualities we all need in handling God’s word. Angel appeared to give him more explanation. Somehow it seems that fasting and prayer is interconnected with God revealing His mysteries and sharing His secrets to His servants.
When we are in a period of Prayer and Fasting, the Holy Spirit will make us understand things in our lives. He will instruct you on how to go about handling a crises in life. God will give you intelligence and understanding. God will make you know great and secret things. The design is to give you information on what is about to occur. The great and secret things concerns your life, your future, people and even your church and family. God will talk to you, of his will. You will be favored with divine and heavenly skill of knowing things and being the publisher of it to others.
Then there will be breakthrough. Usually Fasting is needed. Fasting test where the heart is. And when it reveals that the heart is one with God, a mighty blow is struck against Satan. Daniel fast is a powerful spiritual experiences that truly bring amazing revelation, blessings, intimacy with the Lord and much more to those who engage in fast: prayers are answered, lives are touched, addictions are broken, bodies are healed, relationship are strengthened and God is glorified.