PROMISE AND PRAYER VELCRO
Lord, I cherish my prayer life with You.
Read DANIEL 9:1–19
9 In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian[b] kingdom— 2 in 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. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:
“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.
7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All 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. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.
15 “Now, 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. 16 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 ancestors 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, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our 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. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
a Daniel 9:1 Hebrew Ahasuerus
b Daniel 9:1 Or Chaldean
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love… We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy” (Dan. 9:4,18).
Daniel’s intercessory prayer gets ignited by understanding “the Scriptures” (2)—note that by the time of Daniel there was such a collection of canonical books—in particular by the promise of God through Jeremiah that Israel’s exile would last seventy years (Jer. 25:8–12; 29:10,11). Dale Ralph Davis comments that “the Lord’s promises drive his servant’s prayer. It’s as if God’s promises have Velcro on them and our prayers are meant to get stuck there” (The Message of Daniel, 115). For example, we know that God will bring in his kingdom, but Jesus told us to pray “Your kingdom come.” Knowing God’s will, even the timing of it as in Daniel’s case, is not meant to instill in us fatalistic resignation, but rather active prayer for that will to be done. There is of course a mystery here, the paradox of God’s sovereignty and human free will, but the practical question remains: to what extent are my prayers shaped by the Scriptures and, in particular, by the promises of God?
We have read of Daniel’s personal faithfulness to God and might think that he might feel justified in pointing the finger of blame at others, the majority of the Israelites and their errant leaders. But count how many times the words “we” and “us” appear in the confession of verses 5–16. Daniel includes himself in the parade of the guilty! Are we inclined to lament over the sins of our nation or church, blaming “them,” rather than recognizing that we may also be part of the problem and need God’s mercy and forgiveness too?
Woven throughout Daniel’s prayer is an awareness of God’s character, beginning with “the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant” (4), acknowledging that the Lord is “righteous… merciful and forgiving” (7,9) and recalling God’s acts of salvation (15). Such an outlook produces not cool, objective thought but rather passionate, urgent prayer (17,19).
Pray about an area of concern, using urgent words such as “Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay!” (19).
Lord, Your covenant faithfulness greatly encourages Your people, as we rely upon You for answered prayer.