Dr. David L. Olford, Stephen Olford professor of expository preaching at Union University, shares, “Just after the Second World War, sensing a deep spiritual hunger, my father [Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004)] was refreshed and revived during a time of personal retreat with the Lord. Shortly thereafter, he met Billy Graham (1946). Due to young Billy Graham’s similar spiritual hunger, the two arranged to meet in Wales for a time of retreat together. It is my understanding that one of the subjects discussed during this time together was the devotional life or the ‘quiet time.’”
Dr. George Sweeting, former president of Moody Bible Institute, explains, “The Christian’s quiet time is the time he spends sharing with God the Father. It is, more specifically, the definite time set aside each day for prayer, meditation, and the study of God’s Word. It is from this quiet time with God that we derive strength, wisdom, and guidance for each day. Without a daily devotional life we remain spiritually anemic, hungry, and an easy prey to the devil.
The quiet time is like a spiritual shower or bath. It washes, refreshes, and revives us. It helps protect us from the moral corruption around us. It prepares us, as Christian soldiers, to engage in spiritual warfare.
Yes, my friend, the daily devotional life of the believer is an indispensable ingredient for a successful Christian life.”
There are three things for us to learn from Daniel’s devotional life.
Daniel 9:1-2 reads, “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
Chronologically, remember when the Book of Daniel began, Daniel was about age 16, now Daniel is an old man, about 90 years old. He saw many changes. No doubt Daniel read these words from the scroll of Jeremiah, “And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation. . . . Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and its princes, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day. . . . For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive” (Jeremiah 25:11-12,18 and 29:11-14). The most complete prophecy about the nation of Israel in the Bible is given in Daniel 9:24-26. In his book titled, The Coming Prince (1895), Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) explains the command to rebuild the temple in Nehemiah chapter 2, then in 490 years the Messiah will rule and reign. In 445 BC he commenced the count for his calculation. Four hundred and eighty three years times 360 days is 9 Nissan AD 30, the day on which the Lord Jesus rode in on a donkey. This prophecy is the most specific unfolding of God’s plan. Dr. Henry M. Morris, III warns, “Prophecy is not just for entertainment but for alignment of our lives with God’s purpose. The Word of God was a rock for Daniel in confusing times. God will not reveal something to us supernaturally through visions and dreams if it is already recorded in His Word. Daniel is wondering about the end of the Babylonian Captivity.
Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) explains, “The book of Proverbs is intended to do for our daily life what the book of Psalms is intended to do for our devotional life. They are filled with practical wisdom for all ages but, in a special way perhaps, should be taught to our young people.”
Reading God’s Word is one of the three r’s of a devotional life.
Daniel 9:3-19 reads, “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You. ‘O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. ‘As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly! ‘O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.’”
Prayer is general while supplication is the specific asking of God for petition in behalf of ourselves or others. Fasting is practiced when you are so burdened for something and like Daniel you have no appetite anyway. This is when food doesn’t interest you. Sackcloth and ashes involves humility but the Pharisees made a mockery of it.
Matthew 6:10 reads, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.” Prayer is the alignment of our life with the will of God. Daniel prayed according to the will of God.
We are told to ask for anything according to God’s will. Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly and are genuinely willing to be guided by the will of God.” Rev. Richard C. Trench (1807-1886) explains, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His highest willingness.” First John 5:14-17 reads, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.” If God’s Word contradicts our prayer we should stop praying in that direction. James 4:1-5 reads, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?”
1Stephen F. Olford, According to Your Word: Morning and Evening Through the New Testament. WORDsearch Corp. (Nashville, TN: B & H, 2008), 1. Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp. 2George Sweeting, How to Begin the Christian Life Revised (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1993), 88.
3Henry Morris, III, Adapted from Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis http://www.icr.org/unlocking .
4John Phillips, Exploring the Scriptures: An Overview of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation (1965), 100. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.
5Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning (New York, NY: Sheldon and Company, 1867), 243.
6Tyron Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors, Both Ancient and Modern (New York, NY: Cassell Publishing Company, 1891), 431.