Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Think back on a life-changing moment (examples include choosing a career, a marriage, or the a birth of a child). How prepared were you for that event? If you could live that time over again, what steps would you take to have become more prepared?
2. Now think about the next 10 years. Name one significant event you foresee happening to you during those years. How are you preparing for that event now?
Read Daniel 9:1-8.
1. Compare Daniel 9:1-3 with Jeremiah 29:10. Note that Daniel went into captivity in about 605 BC and the first year of the reign of Darius son of Xerxes was about 538 BC. How does that setting help explain Daniel’s actions in Daniel 9:3?
2. Try to summarize the beginning of Daniel’s prayer in verses 4-8 with a single sentence. Do Daniel’s words indicate that he believed his nation was ready for the great event Jeremiah predicted? Explain.
Read Daniel 9:15, 16.
3. How often do our prayers contain the unspoken sentiment of, “Give me what I deserve” or “Give me what I want”? How is the message of Daniel’s prayer on behalf of his nation very different from that?
4. Underline the phrases “mighty hand” and “righteous acts.” What does Daniel acknowledge that God has the power to do? What does Daniel acknowledge that God’s righteousness compels him to do? Why are both significant?
Read Daniel 9:17-19.
5. Seven decades earlier, the people of Israel explained the reason for the exile with a proverb cited in Jeremiah 31:29 and Ezekiel 18:2. What did they mean by that? How do people who are suffering today exhibit that same attitude?
6. The gist of Daniel’s prayer seems to be that he was asking God to keep his promise. That promise was to release Israel from exile after 70 years as Jeremiah had predicted decades earlier. What reasons did Daniel give for this request?
7. Daniel acknowledged God’s righteousness and God’s mercy. If God were only righteous and not merciful, what would he be like? If God were only merciful and not righteous, what would he be like?
8. As Daniel prepared for a momentous event on the horizon, he structured his prayer in this way: He acknowledged his and his nation’s sin. He acknowledged God’s power and God’s righteous nature. Finally, he asked God to intercede for him and those around him. Try using this basic structure in your prayers this coming week.