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Battling in Prayer

Scripture: Genesis 37:1-13
How do you handle conflict? Do you rely on your own abilities, try to win the favor of influential people, or attempt to manipulate circumstances? Maybe you give in to worry or seek to escape instead of dealing with trouble. The best thing we can do when facing a challenge beyond our control is to pray.

The Old Testament prophet Daniel knew how to fight battles on his knees. In this study, we’ll look at one of his prayers and the surprising way God answered.

Historical Background

In 605 B.C., God allowed Jerusalem to be conquered by the Babylonians as punishment for idolatry. The temple was destroyed, and the nation of Israel was taken into captivity. As one of its most capable young men, Daniel was trained to be a leader in the Babylonian kingdom. Although he rose to one of the highest government offices, he never forgot the one true God or abandoned the faith of his fathers. As chapter 9 opens, Daniel is in a position of power under the King Darius, the Mede who conquered the Babylonians (Dan. 5:31).

The Prophet’s Prayer

Read Daniel 9.

  • What prompts Daniel to battle on his knees (v. 1-2)?
  • How does he prepare himself for hearing from God (v. 3)?
  • Describe the way Daniel opens his prayer (v. 4).

We have no indication that Daniel, a righteous man, participated in Israel’s rebellion against God.

  • Why do you think he confessed the sins of his nation (v. 5-11)?
  • What specifically does he ask of the Lord (v. 16-18)?
  • According to Daniel, why might the Lord act on his petition (v. 18-19)?
  • How long does the prophet wait until he gets a response (v. 21)? (See Exodus 29:39.)
  • When did God give the command for Gabriel to respond to Daniel’s prayer (v. 23)?

Using “week” to mean a “seven-year period,” the angel speaks to Daniel about the long-term future of the Jews. In 9:24-25, he predicts the coming of the Messiah, the atonement for sin (which would be offered through the cross), and eventually the establishment of “everlasting righteousness” on earth (during the millennial kingdom of Christ). verse 26 refers to the crucifixion and the later destruction of Jerusalem. The seventieth “week” corresponds to the seven-year tribulation at the end of this age. It will begin when the Antichrist makes a covenant with the Jews (v. 27).

  • Daniel asked about a tangible, relatively immediate fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:11-12. What did God speak to him about instead (v. 24-27)?
  • What application can you make to your own life concerning prayers for answers or deliverance?

From God’s perspective, Daniel’s request for deliverance from captivity and the restoration of his city was about to begin. That same year, King Cyrus let some Jews return to Israel to begin rebuilding the walls and the temple (Ezra 1:1-8).


Some might argue that God answered Daniel because he was “highly esteemed” (v. 23)—we can’t expect the Lord to give our prayers the same attention.

  • Explain how believers are viewed according to Colossians 3:12.
  • Why can we approach the throne of grace with confidence, despite our weaknesses and failures (Heb. 4:13-16)?
  • Name a few sins Daniel confesses on behalf of Israel (vv. 5-10).
  • Which ones can you relate to personally?

It’s significant that Daniel didn’t turn to people or practical solutions. He didn’t organize a revolt or even ask his captors for help in restoring Jerusalem. Daniel recognized that the problem was spiritual, and he went to the Lord in prayer.

  • In what situations do you have the tendency to seek help from people instead of looking to the Lord?

In Psalms 147:10-11, “the strength of a horse” or “the legs of a man” represent relying on physical resources such as military power or assistance from other people.

  • According to this verse, how can someone win the blessing of the Lord?
  • Briefly summarize the sections of Daniel’s prayer (Dan. 9: 4-19).

vv. 5-10:

vv. 11-14:

vv. 15-19:

  • According to this verse, how can someone win the blessing of the Lord?

Closing: From Scripture, Daniel realized that the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophesy was at hand. He petitioned the Lord for the deliverance of his people—and learned far more than he expected about the future of the Jewish people. Daniel’s example reveals how we can fight our battles on our knees.

Prayer: What conflict are you facing today? Whatever it is, take your struggle to God, using Daniel’s prayer as a model. Begin by referring to promises in God’s Word that apply to your situation. Confess your sins and accept His forgiveness. Acknowledging that you can’t demand anything from the Lord, finish your prayer with specific requests.

(Copyright 2010 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.)