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Christian Living

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Anne Graham Lotz Interview - Praying as Daniel Prayed

Beth Patch - Senior Producer

When you listen to Anne Graham Lotz speak, you can't help but notice the similarity to her father, Billy Graham, as she enunciates the name of Jesus and utters powerful truths from the word of God. With a passion for others to have a personal relationship with God, she is an international speaker, evangelist, best-selling and award-winning author. Recently, Anne appeared on The 700 Club with a message encouraging people to pray like the prophet Daniel - a prayer that "moves Heaven and changes nations."

We’ve got many examples of powerful prayer in the Bible, why Daniel?

God put Daniel, Chapter 9 on my heart maybe 15, 20 years ago. So I’ve been thinking about it, using it in my own prayer time. I’ve spoken from it several times. But in the last three years, when God set me aside to take care of my husband, I had a little bit more time off the road, I wasn’t speaking as much; and this chapter came back to my mind. I feel very compelled, not only to pray myself, but to rally God’s people in prayer. So our ministry has offered several online initiatives to get tens of thousands of people, actually, to pray; and the Daniel prayer has a pattern for prayer in particular for a nation that’s come under God’s judgement. And I feel that, America, if we don’t turn back to God, we’re going to—I believe we presently are under God’s judgement in a Romans 1 sense, that God is backing away and turning us over to ourselves. But we may come under his severe judgement in a more drastic way, and Daniel’s prayer was so effective when Daniel prayed it that Heaven was moved, and his prayer was answered specifically. His nation was changed. God set his people free, restored them to their foundation of faith and their place of blessing with God. So it’s a prayer that works, and I believe the pattern works not only in Daniel’s day, but I believe it’s a pattern that would work in our day if God’s people would pray as Daniel did.  

You say [in your book] there are three reasons you believe God’s patience might be running out.

I believe the basic reason God’s patience is running out is because of sin, and sin that—we know better. You know, it’s one thing for, some people say, "Well, what about a South American nation or Pacific rim nation?" But so many of those don’t have a history of faith in Jesus Christ. There’s not the history of the Church, they don’t have the Bible available like we have. In America, we’re a covenant nation, for one thing. When George Washington became President, he dedicated this nation to the glory of God, he and the Continental Congress. I believe God took that seriously. God has used us. He has blessed America. He has prospered us. And we’ve reached the point that we’re so arrogant and proud that we think our prosperity is because we’ve gotten it for ourselves. We’ve rejected God. We don’t realize it perhaps, but when you reject God and you throw Him out, then He takes with Him His hand of protection, His hand of blessing, His hand of favor; and He turns us over to ourselves. That’s according to Romans chapter 1. So it’s a very serious thing. And so I believe sin is the bottom lying problem and the ultimate solution is to turn to God and ask for His forgiveness, and for His mercy, and plead with Him to return to us. Joel Chapter 2 says that if we rend our hearts, meaning if God’s people would repent of their sin, and we would humble ourselves and we would plead with Him to return to us, that who knows, but that He would return and leave behind a blessing. It’s time to pray like Daniel did. 

You bring up an important point about humility. Christians pray regularly, but the part about bringing themselves to that place where they’re truly humble and their heart is pliable before the Lord, why do we have such a hard time getting there? What do we need to do?

Daniel prayed with plural pronouns. It’s so interesting. He didn’t point his finger at his society or his culture, and he could have; because they had been very wicked. And he actually said they deserve the judgement they got. But he prayed “we,” and “our sin has become for us,” “our shame.” We’re covered with shame. He used the plural pronouns because we’re all sinners. So we can categorize sin and say some is big, and some is little, and some is medium, but God doesn’t. The smallest sin would have sent Jesus to the cross. So we’re all sinners, and Christians - sometimes it’s just easier for us to see sin in somebody else’s life than it is ours. It’s what I call “no-see-ums.” You know, we have little gnats in the south that just drive you nuts, but you don’t see them. And we all have no-see-ums. We have those blind spots, which is what Jesus said. He said, "Why do you point out the speck in somebody else’s eye, and you’re ignoring the plank in your own?" We have no-see-ums. We need to ask God, I believe, to reveal to us what He sees; and it takes a lot of courage, actually. It takes enormous courage to look into your heart and life and see what God sees from His perspective, and to repent of our sin, my sin, before I would point my finger at somebody else.  

More than once in your book you talk about what a difference it would make in our perspective if we didn’t look at God through the lens of our circumstances, but looked instead at our circumstances through the lens of God. Can you give us some examples?

Look, when bad things happen, when disaster strikes, when a crisis erupts, so often we see the crisis, the disaster - “Why me, God? Why did this happen?” - instead of lifting up our eyes to see that God is working a plan. He knows exactly what He’s doing. There are no accidents with Him. He’s not caught by surprise by the things that stun us. He’s known all along, and He’s working it out for our good and His glory. And so when you approach God, and you have absolute confidence that He is good, and He is great, and everything He does is right and that He’s faithful, which is what Daniel did - those are the four characteristics that I feel like Daniel based a lot of his prayer on. Then you know that when bad things happen, you just take a moment and think, this has caught me by surprise. This is drastic. But I’m going to look at this from God’s perspective. God, what is it that you’re up to? You know, what do I need to adjust? How do I need to pray? What do I need to submit to? I want to accomplish what you’re about, I want to be a part of your plan. I want to fall in step with you. God allows us to walk with Him. He doesn’t necessarily walk with us. So to walk with God means you walk at his pace, step-by-step obedience. You walk in His direction, surrender your will, and you walk with God - and He doesn’t adjust his pace or direction for us. We have to do that with Him and come in line with Him, and then it’s thrilling to be a part of what He’s doing. He’s going to lead you through to a place that’s better, more abundant, more blessed. Even if your disaster lasts a whole lifetime, He’s going to lead you to a Heavenly home that eye has not seen nor ear has heard, nor has the mind conceived what He’s preparing for us. So it will turn out really well in the end. But He may allow us to go through some rocky things between now and then, because He uses those things in our lives to strengthen us, to grow us up in our faith. Peter said, "Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials." It’s like a platform on which He displays His glory in your life. 

You make a distinction between a commitment to pray and a compulsion to pray. I find that very interesting. How can we move from that commitment to pray to the compulsion to pray?

We don’t move from compulsion to commitment to pray. It’s simultaneous. So when you’re compelled to pray, it’s problems, disasters, crises - hard things will compel you to pray; which is why I think God lets us have those things. If we didn’t have those things we wouldn’t be praying like this. And so that triggers the prayer. But the commitment is when we make the time to pray as Daniel did. And he said he turned to the Lord God, meaning he turned away from everything else. That’s fasting. You know, Jesus said, "When you pray you go into your closet and you close the door." There needs to be a set-aside, draw-aside, private time of prayer where we just are committed to focusing on God and nothing else. And he [Daniel] said he turned to the Lord, my God. He had a personal relationship with God, a covenant relationship he established in an Old Testament way, through the sacrifices and the ceremonies. For us, we establish that covenant relationship through faith in Jesus Christ. We come to the cross, confess our sin, ask Him to forgive us, come into our hearts, surrender to Him - we enter into a covenant relationship with God. And He enters into a covenant relationship with us, so that we have a compulsion to pray, we’re committed to pray, and we’re confident when we pray that He’s hearing us.  

What is it about the Daniel prayer that makes it the prayer that will move Heaven and change nations, as the book’s subtitle says?

Daniel’s prayer was unique in some regards, but it holds the keys to any prayer, every prayer that’s going to be effective. Basically, he was praying God’s Word back to God. So he based his prayer on Jeremiah Chapter 29, maybe some other passages in Jeremiah, but the one that comes to mind is Jeremiah Chapter 29 when God said, “After 70 years, I’ll bring you back from captivity; because I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future if you will seek me with all of your heart.” And so he took his prayer and he based it on God’s promise which gave it strength. It wasn’t based on a “hope so,” or a wish, or a whim, or what Daniel wanted. It was based on the strength and the power of God’s own word. God keeps his word. Jesus said, and Jeremiah says He watches over it to make sure it’s fulfilled. Jesus said, "Not one jot or tittle would pass away, all would be fulfilled." So God keeps His word. So when you base your prayer on His word, then it gives it strength. And the second thing, I think the other key, is that he prayed for the glory of God, and for the glory of God’s name. He wasn’t just praying, "God, restore us to Jerusalem, set your people free," because he wanted to go back, because he wanted to be free. He never did go back, he never was free. Daniel remained enslaved all of his life. His prayer ultimately was for the glory of God, that God would be glorified when the whole world saw this incredible thing when Cyrus King of Persia issued the edict that all the people would go back for no other reason than Daniel had prayed and God had answered. So it was for the glory of God so that God’s name would be magnified, God’s name would be great. People would acknowledge that there is a God in Heaven because of the way He answered Daniel’s prayer. 

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