Daniel’s Prayer for His People
9 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We 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. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
“O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
Gabriel Brings an Answer
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.
The Seventy Weeks
“Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
Daniel 9 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Many look toward and speculate chapter 9 with great curiosity and wonder. Within the mystery is a set of things mentioned like 70 weeks, then 62 and other numbers. This chapter holds hints of the abomination of desolation which shows up again in chapter 12 and that what even Jesus spoke of as he was warning his disciples of things in Matthew 24. Thoughts today do not land with any of these attempting to describe the mystery. One can simply Google Daniel 9 and every kind of chart imaginable pops up with theories and theology.
Today’s thoughts are about the heart of Daniel.
Daniel’s mind was drawn toward and then investigated the prophecies of Jeremiah. He had prophesied that Israel would be in captivity for 70 years and knowing this timeframe was coming to end he sought God on behalf of the people. Realizing their own rebellion had led to this state they found themselves in, he asked for mercy. Through prayer, fasting, confession of their sin, he begged for God to reveal His will. Asking for the next step for them as a people so they would be contrite and humble of heart before Him, he asked for revelation.
He pleaded for a complete surrender of their hearts individually and corporately as a people. In this beautiful and challenging prayer, he recognized the current disaster they were in was an act of discipline but also an act to draw the people back to Him. Terribly even though they stood in the wreckage of their decisions they still were obstinate in obedience.
What is interesting to consider is Daniel prayed for mercy, not help.
“O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolation’s and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” – Daniel 9:18-19
The waywardness of the people had landed them in exile. By their own hand and choices, they’d chosen their own wisdom and folly over the will and commands of God. In essence, Daniel’s prayer was for an awareness of this to sink to the core of their hearts and turn and confess before God their sin.
What are our own prayers like? I think if we looked critically or with fresh eyes, many times they are selfish. So often our prayers are for relief or God to do something to take us out of the situation we are in. But quite possibly, the generation of the state we’re in is because we were disobedient to begin with. God will and does use whatever necessary to continually draw us back to Him.
But quite honestly, sometimes the price paid for such belligerent or complacent choices are not done away with. We often live with our mistakes even if we have confessed our sin and been forgiven. I have no doubt there were many a contrite heart of Israel as they marched through the desert sands toward their captivity. It isn’t hard to imagine that there were others like Daniel who served in exile and realized they were in bondage due to their own choices. But those choices did not alter the 70 years of captivity they found themselves in. They as a people lived with the results of their disobedience.
And so again, what are our prayers like? Are we praying for relief or mercy? Are we praying for God to get us out of this situation we quite possibly led ourselves in or for His strength in the middle? Are we asking for the Holy Spirit to change our heart or change our situation?
Daniel 9 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Even though Daniel never read these words in his lifetime, he believed in the power of the Word.
“Oh! That you studied your Bibles more! Oh! That we all did! How we could plead the promises! How often we should prevail with God when we could hold him to his word, and say, ‘Fulfill this word unto thy servant, whereon thou hast caused me to hope.’ Oh! It is grand praying when our mouth is full of God’s word, for there is no word that can prevail with him like his own.” -Charles Spurgeon
Studying the Word led to understanding. Understanding led to the transforming of Daniel’s mind. And a mind transformed by the Holy Spirit is a mind that enters diligently into prayer.
Daniel read Jeremiah. He understood the prophecy. He felt conviction in his heart and this led him to prayer. It wasn’t a prayer for himself, but for the people who fell under the judgment of God. Even though it seems simple, it carries profound weight. Many today will not take the time to open their Bibles, let alone converse with God.
What would this look like today?
2 Peter 3:1-4 ESV This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
The challenge is simple. How does this lead you to pray? We are living in the last days. We witness scoffers all around us. We may even be these people. So, I will ask it again… how does this lead you to pray? How can we follow the example of Daniel and dive into prayer?
Romans 13:11-12 ESV Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.