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A Lesson in Prayer

March 10, 2016

Daniel 9 receives a lot of attention because of its importance to understanding the plan of God for future events. Thousands of pages have been written about the seventy weeks revealed in the last eight verses of the chapter. The prophetic importance of this chapter has overshadowed a glorious example of prayer. The majority of the ninth chapter consists of Daniel’s prayer for the restoration of Israel. His prayer comes after a decades long national and personal tragedy. From youth to old man Daniel spent his life in captivity to the Babylonian Empire. The nation of Judah was conquered by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar as God had warned through through the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. God told Judah that because of its rebellion and idolatry its people would be sent into captivity for 70 years. Because of the nations disobedience the land would be desolate for seventy years. Decades later Daniel read the promises of God in the book of Jeremiah and knew the time was approaching for the captivity to come to its end.

Knowing the promised time was approaching Daniel the prophet prayed. Though this prophet’s prayer was specifically for the people of Israel the New Testament Christian an glean from it some marvelous principles of prayer. Daniel was filled with sorrow when he prayed. He sorrowed over the desolation of his people and his city. He sorrowed over the sin of his people. Daniel’s prayer is a masterful example of confessing sin. Daniel’s prayer is a beautiful illustration of humbly making requests according to the will of God. Daniel’s prayer teaches how to pray in the darkest of times. Despite the black depths of the nation’s need and the anguish of Daniel’s sorrow his prayer echoes with confidence and triumph.

The source of Daniel’s confidence is God Himself. The character and work of God shows up over and over again throughout Daniel’s prayer. He begins with, “O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him.” Later he says, “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee.” and then, “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses.” He concludes with these words, “We do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies. . . defer not, for thine own sake.” Though Daniel’s heart is grieved for his people and his city, his heart is fixed on God. Daniel knew his God. His intimate knowledge of God sustained him and directed every part of his prayer. In the time of trouble Daniel looked to His God first.

Daniel did not pray because he doubted God would restore Jerusalem. Daniel prayed because he knew God would restore Jerusalem. He had the promises given through the prophets. He remembered God’s deliverance from a previous captivity. “O Lord our God, that hast brough thy people forth out of th eland of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown.” Daniel’s remembrance of God’s fulfilled promises assured him that God would fulfill the promise to deliver the Israelites from Babylon.

Though Daniel prayed with great grief he prayed with great hope. He knew the promises of God. He knew the righteousness of God. He knew the mercy of God. He knew the forgiveness of God. He knew the mighty works of God. He knew the glory of God. He knew God would fulfill all His Word. When you pray, you can pray as Daniel. Remember God’s character. Remember God’s works. Remember God’s Word. Trust God’s faithfulness.

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