In Daniel chapter 9 we read the account of an extensive prayer offered by Daniel to God. Let us notice three things: 1. The man who offered this prayer. 2. The prayer he offered. 3. The answer given.
Daniel is a man in the Bible who is strongly associated with prayer. He was a praying man. Such may not be said of every man, though given we all live in God’s creation and are accountable to him, all should be praying persons. It is clear from scripture that Daniel – one of the captive Jews in Babylon and latterly Persia – was man of great gifts and talents. Doubtless the wisdom of the man and his rise to power in two great world empires, was in the providence of God. How sad to think of people in positions of power being so unlike godly Daniel. Surely, of all people, such as have great power and responsibility ought to be people who pray. In the present Coronavirus trouble, how good it would be if our rulers would humble themselves before God as Daniel did.
This, humbling himself before God comes out as a striking theme of Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9. Note that he set his face to pray. He did not rush to pray but considered well the God to whom he addressed himself. Here is a lesson for us. If we think upon what the Bible tells us about God, we might be the more encouraged in our life of prayer. Yea, even the heavens declare the glory of God and so we are surrounded by that which reveals the glory of the God we call upon, whether by day or night. As we can see from chapter 9, Daniel’s prayer has much of confession of sin. Is confession of sin a feature of our prayers to God? The sinner who seeks to come before God in prayer, should be struck with a need to confess his sin and ask for mercy through Christ. Note that Daniel feels his sin is a part of the sin of the whole nation. Take verse 5 as an example, ‘We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments…’ As well as confession of sin, there is in Daniel’s prayer, a seeking the favour of God for Jerusalem and His covenant people. For example in verses 18 and 19:
“O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.”
It was as Daniel was praying that God gave him an answer. The angel Gabriel was sent with a message of peace and assurance of the coming of the Messiah. The praying man is called one ‘greatly beloved.’ So too the Christian, confessing sin and seeking pardon, mercy and blessing in and through Christ Jesus. Gabriel reveals wonderful things concerning the Messiah – which of course find their fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, we need only turn to Luke chapter 1 to find the same Gabriel appearing to Zacharias in the Temple at Jerusalem and Mary in Nazareth. The incarnation of the Messiah is announced by the same angel to Mary who spoke with Daniel about the coming Messiah!
So there is great encouragement for us to address ourselves to God in prayer, seeking the seriousness, confession of sin and earnest supplication for mercy shown by Daniel in his prayer.
G B Macdonald