Read Daniel 9:1-19
1In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— 2in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
4I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:
"O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, 5we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7"Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame — the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 😯 Lord, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. 9The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.
"Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.
15"Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16O Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our fathers have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.
17"Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name." (NIV)
While this section of Daniel is dealing with end times, we see in this section a great deal on prayer. We see that Daniel is incorporating Scripture reading in as part of his prayer life. We see this with the reference to Jeremiah. This was probably something that many of the Jews in exile were looking at as it was getting close to the end of the time that Jeremiah stated that the Jews would be in exile. This demonstrates that part of Scripture reading and prayer is to focus on the promises contained therein. We need to remind ourselves of these promises. There are many and as they happen, we can thank God for being true to his word.
We also see in verse 3 how Daniel prays. He states that he goes before the Lord with prayers, petitions, fasting and in a posture of humility (in sackcloth and ashes). This is a model for our own prayers. We lift up others. We fast. We come before God in great humility.
He begins his prayer much like Jesus taught when responding to the disciples request to “teach us to pray,” began by saying, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Daniel begins with God’s awesomeness and powerful love.
He then moves from there to confession. This is something I sense that many of us who prayer, don’t spend enough time on. It is not just our sins, but the sins of those we associate with. Confession reminds us that we need God and that we are dependent on God’s mercy. It is interesting that in many 12 step programs, the steps always begin with confession. We confess not to feel terrible, but to remind us of need. We need God and we need one another. So, we see that Daniel spends time in confessing, even though by every measure of his life so far, he is a very righteous person. But he still confesses sin to God.
At verse 15, he begins his petition, his plea before God. Daniel points out a wonderful reminder about our petitions in verses 18 and 19. We do not bargain with God. We do not point out how good we are and deserving of these requests. We make these requests solely because of God’s great mercy. We make these requests because we belong to God.
Daniel gives a in this passage a wonderful example of prayer. It is not the only way to pray. How do you pray? Do you feel your prayers are effective? If not, what needs to change in your prayer life? It is good to think about our prayer life as that is our main communication with God.
Blessings and Peace