Daniel's Prayer
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Daniel. In our study, we have come to chapter 9, which is a pivotal chapter in the book because it gives to us what may be referred to as the Blueprint of the Ages . The first portion of the chapter deals with a prayer; the last portion deals with the answer to that prayer.

Daniel 9:

1In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;
2In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
4And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
5We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
7O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
8O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
9To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;
10Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
11Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
12And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
13As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
14Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.
15And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
17Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake.
18O 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.
19O 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.
20And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God;
21Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
22And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
23At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

These verses consitute the prayer and the introduction to the answer which is found in the remaining portion of the chapter.

Shall we bow our heads for prayer: Our Father, we have read Thy Word, and once again we ask that Thou wouldst enlighten our minds that we may be able to understand it. Grant, our Father, not only that we may be able to understand Thy Word, but grant that we may make definite the application to our own hearts and lives. For we pray in Jesus's name and for His sake. Amen

Daniel—A Man of Prayer

The prayer which we have read is a prayer which came from the lips of Daniel, whom we have already discovered in our study of the book is a man of prayer. We want to examine this prayer not only because it does illustrate for us the kind of man Daniel was, not only because it does give us the reason for the last part of the chapter, but also because we believe that in it are some very basic, essential lessons related to prayer that all of us need to learn. Also, I think it would be wise for us to notice the things that are related to this particular prayer because Daniel was praying for a beloved nation which was in the same state, figuratively speaking at least, that our beloved nation is in today.

I never read portions of this prayer which Daniel prayed without thinking of our own nation, or without being reminded that if we had a few Daniels today who would be willing to pray as Daniel prayed, perhaps God would come to our rescue and do something about the trouble that we are in at the present time. For example, if you will glance at verse 8, you will read:

Daniel 9:

8O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.

The Cause of Our Problems as a Nation

I verily believe that we are living in an hour when to our nation belongs confusion of face—not only to our nation, but to our leaders as well. I believe the reason that confusion of face belongs to us is because we have sinned, and I do not believe that all the legislation in the world will bring us out of the dilemma in which we find ourselves until as a people we recognize that we have denied God in more ways than I have time to mention, until we recognize that our sin is a sin against God and do something about it in the same way that Daniel did.

The Historic Time of This Prayer

With that thought in mind, I would first like for you to notice with me the time of Daniel's prayer. It is exceedingly important for us to notice first the historic time of Daniel's prayer. Will you glance, please, at verse 1 of the chapter:

Daniel 9:

1In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans;

Historically, this particular prayer was prayed in the same year that Daniel had the experience which is described in chapter 6, when he was made one of three prime ministers and was cast into the lions' den because he dared to stand for God and to continue his prayer life. Historically, this prayer was prayed in 538 B.C., and if you will keep in mind that one year later the seventy years' captivity of the children of Israel was to be over, you can realize one of the reasons Daniel was greatly burdened at this particular time. Also historically, you will recognize that Daniel was about eighty-eight years of age when he prayed this prayer, and he was still going strong. He was the chief minister of the kingdom of Persia, and he had a great many things to do in relation to the government of the kingdom, yet he found time to read his Bible, he found time to pray, and he found time to carry a burden for the people whom he loved.

God's Conditions for Hearing Prayer

As important as the historic time of this prayer, and perhaps even more important, is the time of this prayer, spiritually speaking. If you will glance at verse 21, you will see designated there the time, spiritually speaking:

Daniel 9:

21Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

Notice the last statement of that verse: “the time of the evening oblation.” By the clock, this was about three o'clock in the afternoon, or the ninth hour of the day. The significance of this particular hour is that it was the hour when the animal was sacrificed upon the altar of burnt offering in the tabernacle or in the temple. This reminds us of two things. It reminds us first that no prayer is acceptable at the Throne of Grace without the blood of the sacrifice having been offered first. In the Old Testament, no man could talk to God until the evening oblation had been made. We would remind ourselves that though we do not need nor do we believe in animal sacrifices today, there is no access before the Throne of Grace unless we recognize the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Another interesting thing to keep in mind, I think, is that the temple had long since been destroyed and Daniel, for these sixty-eight years, had been praying at the appointed time of prayer even though there was no temple in which to pray. He was praying at the hour of sacrifice even though there was no central place of sacrifice as there had been in other days. But Daniel had been well trained and steeped in the religion of his fathers, and it stood him in good stead even when he was away from home.

Prayer From a Burdened Heart

Having noticed the time of his prayer, I would like for you to notice with me several things that prompted Daniel to pray. We are not talking about a little prayer that somebody recites; we are not talking about a prayer that you might read from a book; we are talking about a prayer that was prompted from the heart of an individual who was greatly burdened before God. So I would like to suggest to you, if you would glance back at chapter 8, one of the things which prompted Daniel's prayer by remote control, if we might use that expression.

You will remember that in chapter 8, there was recorded a vision which Daniel had in the reign of Belshazzar, before ever the kingdom of Babylon was conquered by the kingdom of Persia in which Daniel was now a Prime Minister. This vision was so intrinsic and so deep that it caused Daniel to be emotionally upset. You will notice that in verse 27, he said:

Daniel 8:

27And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.

Searching the Scriptures for Answers to Questions

This would lead us to believe that Daniel was greatly concerned about the thing that he saw. He was anxious to know what it meant, and he did not just sit around and wonder. The great desire to know what it meant prompted him to study the Word of God, and his study of the Word of God prompted the prayer. Glance at chapter 9, verse 2:

Daniel 9:

2In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3And I set my face unto the Lord God, [notice] to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

Seeking Understanding Through Prayer

Now get the picture. In chapter 8, he was terribly disturbed about what he had seen. He did not understand it, so he began immediately to study the Bible; if you will look at verse 2, the phrase, “by books,” in the original tongue is “by the books,” and it is a reference to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit directed Daniel specifically to certain Old Testament passages of Scripture at which we will look in a moment, and there he found a number of things which disturbed him even more. He could not see their significance as it was related to the time in which he lived, so he began to seek by prayer the meaning of these things.

Summing up all of these things, I would suggest to you that the Word of God prompted Daniel to pray. Beloved, that is the way it ought to be. If you study the Word of God merely for the accumulation of intellectual knowledge, you are missing the real point to the study of the Word of God. But if you are studying the Word of God, and you see things there that prompt you to pray, then you are on the right track. If you are earnestly seeking the explanation of a thing as was Daniel, you will be directed to the Word of God, as he was, and particularly to those portions of the Word of God that will cause you to understand the thing that is on your heart.

I would like for you to notice with me some of the passages of Scripture which I am sure Daniel read as he had this matter on his heart. He tells us that he read from the book of Jeremiah, but if we were to go through the prayer in detail again, we would find suggested in the prayer other passages of Scripture which he also studied. All we will take the time to do is to look at the passage of Scripture, so that when you re-read the prayer, you will be able to make the connection.

Conditions Needed For God to be Present

Turn with me to the book of Leviticus, chapter 26. God is talking about His promised covenant relationship with the people of Israel. He tells them how He will be with them and dwell with them if they will obey His Word and keep His commandments. We will begin to read with verse 14:

Leviticus 26:

14But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
15And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
16I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

God's Judgment for Disobedience

Then glance at verse 32 and notice these words:

Leviticus 26:

32And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.
33And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
34Then [notice this verse particularly] shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.

God said, “If you will be faithful to Me, I will be faithful to you. But if you disobey Me, then you can expect My judgment to fall.” One of the ways in which they disobeyed God was in failing to let the land lie idle every seven years. God had promised them that He would give them good crops and good harvest every year for six years; In the sixth year, He would give them an abundant harvest so that there would be enough for two years. He said, “In the seventh year, you do absolutely nothing. That year is dedicated to Me.” But that year they were full of greed, as we are full of greed, and they would not give to God what was rightfully His; they went ahead and tilled the ground in the seventh year.

God Gets What Belongs To Him

They occupied the land from the time they entered it for four hundred and ninety years until they were dispersed by Nebuchadnezzar. If you do a little thinking, you will realize that during this time, there were seventy sabbaths which they owed God and which they had not given Him—seventy years, that is, when they did not let the land lie idle. So God said, “What you would not give Me willingly, I will take by force,” and He sent the children of Israel into captivity for exactly seventy years.

May I pause in our discussion to remind our hearts that God always gets what is rightfully His. You can give it to Him willingly and enjoy the blessings of obedience, or you can see Him take what belongs to Him and suffer the consequences of His finding it necessary to deprive you forcibly of what is rightfully His.

Prophecy Fulfilled In Daniel's Generation

Turn, please, to the book of Jeremiah and notice chapter 25. As we are reading these passages of Scripture, I trust your heart thrills as my heart thrills to realize that Daniel was reading these passages of Scripture in essentially the same form that we are reading them now. The Word of God truly is inspired and has been preserved by His grace. Notice the paragraph which begins with verse 8:

Jeremiah 25:

8Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words,
9Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.
10Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.
11And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

Being Burdened At A Time of Blessing

Keep in mind as you read this passage of Scripture that Daniel was among those who were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar into the land of Babylon. And will you keep in mind that as Daniel read this passage of Scripture, he could have said to himself in so many words, “My, my, the time is almost up. I have been here in Babylon for sixty-eight years, and God said we would be here only seventy years.” As Daniel looked around about him at all the confusion of face and all the lack of interest on the part of the people who were there, he was mightily concerned and he was much burdened.

Turn, please, to the book of Isaiah, chapter 44, and notice with me another passage of Scripture which Daniel read, keeping in mind that this was a prophecy which God gave to Isaiah even before the kingdom of Persia was in existence. This chapter is talking about the same thing that we are thinking about—the dispersion of the children of Israel and their promised restoration to the land of Israel. Notice verse 28:

Isaiah 44:

28That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

Try to put yourself in Daniel's place as you read this passage of Scripture, and recognize that as Daniel read this chapter, he realized that Isaiah wrote these words long before there ever was an individual by the name of Cyrus. Daniel said to himself, “My, my, I am the Prime Minister of this man Cyrus, and God says that this man will give permission for us to go back to the land of Israel; he will give permission for us to rebuild the city and he will give permission for us to rebuild the temple, and nobody is interested. Nobody is concerned. One more year of this captivity is left, and nobody seems to realize it.” This was the conclusion to which Daniel came when he studied the Word of God, and this conclusion prompted Daniel to pray.

Similarity Between Our Age and Daniel's Time

May I suggest to you, Beloved, that we are living in the end of an age somewhat as was Daniel. If you study your Bible and recognize the characteristics of the age in which we live and realize that we are approching the end of the present age, you, too, should be prompted to pray. You should be prompted to pray because of his study of the Word.

Desire to Know What the Future Holds

Go back to Daniel, chapter 9, with me as I suggest another reason Daniel was prompted to pray. I have already hinted at it, but we will look at it a bit more in detail. In verse 21, Daniel said:

Daniel 9:

21Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

You will remember that Gabriel was standing by Daniel at the river Ulai, and he interpreted the vision which is recorded in chapter 8 of the book of Daniel. But the language of verse 21 would indicate that Daniel had a vision in chapter 9, though it is not recorded, and on the basis of that vision, he began to pray. If you relate verse 21 to verse 3 of this chapter, that will become even more evident. Daniel says in verse 3:

Daniel 9:

3And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

May I say that Daniel's deep desire to know what was going on in the mind of God in relation to the future prompted him to pray.

Ingredients of Daniel's Prayer

As we hurry on in our discussion, I would like for you to notice with me the essential ingredients of Daniel's prayer, as they represent a good outline for us to follow when we pray. The first thing I would suggest to you is that you consider with me the attitude which Daniel manifested when he was praying. Look at verse 3. Daniel said:

Daniel 9:

3And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

A Prayer of Intercession

Four phrases manifest the attitude which Daniel had when he went to prayer. Notice first the word prayer . This word prayer comes from a Hebrew word which has in its meaning the idea of intercession. So once again, he was not just reciting a little prayer; he was interceding. He was praying in behalf of the people whom he loved.

A Prayer of Supplication

Look at the word supplication , which comes from a Hebrew word which means “earnest petition.” Hebrew words are picture words, and this word pictures a man who is kneeling before a potentate with his arms outstretched, with tears running down his cheeks, as he makes the request that falls from his lips.

And so there is the matter of intercession involved in this prayer that Daniel prayed, and there is the matter of earnest prayer which is indicated by the very attitude of his heart.

Concern Which Brings Denying of Physical Needs

And then you will notice he also included fasting. There are a great number of people who will tell you that fasting is not in order for the dispensation in which we live. But I would like to remind you that if you carefully study the Word of God, fasting is in order for believers when they are greatly burdened in prayer.

We are not going into a discussion of why people fast. We are simply going to say that fasting has always been and will ever be an indication of the denial of physical demands in the interest of prayer. I would not suggest to you that there is any particular virtue in doing without a meal—just doing without a meal. But I would suggest to you that if you have that attitude of heart when you pray, when you are willing to deny the demands of the physical in order to give time to prayer, you are pleasing God.

Praying in Humility

Sackcloth and ashes were an Old Testament combination wherby people indicated their great sorrow and their great humility. We can indicate our sorrow and our humility in the conditions that are about us without donning sackcloth and ashes. But I would suggest to you that this attitude is essential if you are going to pray effectively for the thing that is on your heart.

Confessing of Sin

Along with the attitude manifested in Daniel's prayer, I would like for you to notice that following the attitude is the basic thing that ought to be included in every prayer—namely, the confession of sin. You cannot begin to pray until you have confessed sin because confession of sin is an absolute essential for the maintenance, if we may use that word, of fellowship. Individuals who are out of fellowship cannot pray. God does not hear anything they say until they confess their sin. That is the reason in I John, chapter 1, verse 9, we are reminded that, ”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That is why the Bible is replete with such passages of Scripture as ”Forgive your brother his trespasses or your Heavenly Father will not forgive you your trespasses” (Matthew 18:35). If you have unforgiveness in your heart, if you are not willing to forgive an individual for what he has done, you are out of fellowship with the Lord and when you confess your sins to God, God does not hear you.

It is absolutely essential to confess your sins. But it is not effective simply to say, ” Lord, I sinned today.” It is not effective to say, ”Lord, if I've commited any sin today…” You need to be as specific as the Holy Spirit of God enables you to be.

Being Specific In Confessing Sins

Daniel was very specific. In verses 5 and 7, he mentioned five kinds of sin of which he and his people were guilty, and he didn't lump them all into one simple statement. He was specific about it. Glance at verse 5, where we read:

Daniel 9:

15And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

He mentions these four kinds of sin basically in this verse of Scripture, and then makes repeated references to them throughout his prayer. Let us see if we can determine what kind of sin he is talking about.

Missing the Mark

Look at the word sinned . It comes from a Hebrew word which means ”to miss the mark”. Daniel was saying very humbly before the Lord, ”Lord, we missed the mark. You've called us for a special purpose. You've called us for a specific thing, and we've missed it.” Beloved, I would like to remind you that many of us could pray that prayer honestly, for we are not doing the thing that God would have us do. We have missed the mark.

Deliberate Bending of God's Plan For Us

Notice the second thing he said: ”We have committed iniquity.” The word iniquity comes from a Hebrew word which speaks of taking a straight thing and deliberately making it crooked. He said, ”That is what we have done. We have committed iniquity. Here is the plain teaching of the Word of God, and instead of our doing what we should do in relation to it, we have bent it. We have twisted it. We have made it crooked.” This is what the Apostle was speaking about in the New Testament when he said that we wrest the Scriptures to our own destruction (II Peter 3:16). It is amazing how many of us who are not willing to obey the Word of God and follow where God leads, are willing to take the Scripture and twist it out of its context, out of all relation to reality, to make it fit our individual situation.

Disturbing a Calm Situation

Notice the third thing that he said: ”We have done wickedly.” This word wickedly comes from a Hebrew word which describes disburbing a calm situation. If we wanted to use a colloquialism, we would say that Daniel said he and his people were guilty of rocking the boat. Everything was just as it ought to be, but when they disobeyed God, they disturbed the relationship that existed between them and God. And will you notice that I am saying that it was they who disturbed the relationship, not God. May I say to you that if your fellowship with God is broken, you will be responsible for it and not God.

Rebellion Against God's Plan

Look again at verse 5, where Daniel said, ”We have rebelled. We have rebelled against God by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments. Here is the plain teaching of the Word of God, and we turned our backs on it. We went the other way.” Daniel said, ”I am confessing that as sin.”

Then will you notice the fifth thing that he said, in verse 6:

Daniel 9:

6Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

Refusal to Listen to God's Message

”We have not paid any attention to the prophet.” May we pause long enough to emphasize something by way of modern application. I have told you any number of times that I am responsible to God for the message that I bring. If I come to this pulpit ill prepared, then I am going to have to answer to God for the time that I have wasted in this hour that is dedicated to Him. But just as certainly as that is true, you who are here in any service are going to have to answer to God for what you do or do not do with the message that is delivered. These individuals did not hearken to the message, and that was a very definite sin.

These five things are repeated, as I said, throughout the prayer. Glance at them briefly. In verse 10:

Daniel 9:

10Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

And in verse 11:

Daniel 9:

11Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

And in verse 13:

Daniel 9:

13As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

Here Daniel was emphasizing what we have already noticed, but he was adding a bit of additional light, saying that these individuals were guilty of the sin of procrastination. They had been warned of God, yet they did absolutely nothing about it.

And then you will notice verse 15:

Daniel 9:

15And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

The Attributes of God

The first attribute of God which Daniel recognized is emphasized in verse 7, where he said, ”O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces.” Down in verse 14 he emphasizes it again: ”Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth.” There was no blaming of God for the state in which they were.

Daniel was saying, ”God, we are wrong and You are right.” Beloved, if you are not willing to recognize the righteousness of God when you pray, your heart will not be in the attitude that God can honor with an answer.

God is Always Faithful to His Word

Notice the second attribute of God which Daniel recognized—namely, God's faithfulness to His Word. In verse 11, he mentioned ”the oath that is written in the law of Moses.” In verses 12 and 13, he mentioned that what had been brought upon them, had been brought upon them because of what was written in the law of God. God was faithful to His Word. Daniel did not believe that God could ignore His Word, and he did not expect Him to. He expected God to answer according to His Word.

It is amazing how many of us when we pray ask God to violate principles which are very definitely stated in the Word of God. It is amazing how many of us talk ourselves into thinking that God will do that very thing.

God Is Willing To Forgive Us

Notice the third attribute of God which Daniel mentions in his prayer. In verse 9 he says, ”To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, [notice] though we have rebelled against him.” Will you keep in mind that God's mercy is not related to the extent of your sin, that God's mercy is not related to the extent of your sin, that God's mercy is not related to the extent of your rebellion, that God's forgiveness is not limited by your sin or by your rebellion. Our human mercy, our human forgiveness, is limited, but not the mercy and the forgiveness of God. You cannot get beyond the pale of God's mercy, and you cannot get beyond the possibility of God's forgiveness in relation to ordinary sin.

Three Reasons Why God Should Answer Daniel's Prayer

As we bring to a close our discussion of the ingredients of prayer, I want you to notice the basis of Daniel's appeal. He takes some of the ingredients of this prayer at which we have looked and makes them the basis of his own appeal. Have you ever stopped to think about why God should answer your prayer? What do you use as a persuasive argument with God to get Him to do the thing that you want done? Daniel used three persuaders in this prayer, and I would like for you to notice them. In verse 16, he said:

He Is A Righteous God

Daniel 9:

16O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.

”Why, God, should You answer my prayer?” Daniel said, ”Because You are a righteous God. You are a righteous God, and I am appealing not on the basis of my righteouness, but on the basis of Thy righteousness.”

He is a God of Mercy

Second, you will notice in verse 18, that he bases his appeal upon the mercy of God:

Daniel 9:

18O 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.

Oh, what a comfort and consolation that verse is. ”We are praying, God, not because we are righteous; we are asking You to do this not because we are righteous, but because of Thy great mercies.” Mercy is one thing that God loves to bestow that we don't deserve and we don't have to deserve.

I use very few illustrations, as you know, but one comes to mind that will emphasize this very plainly for us. Napoleon was a very strict general, and quite often he demanded of his men things that went beyond human, physical endurance. He demanded such a thing of a sentry one night. This man had to be sentry all day and all night, and toward the morning of the next day he fell asleep, and Napoleon ordered him shot. His mother came to Napoleon interceding for him; she asked Napoleon that he would show mercy to her boy. Napoleon very roughly said, ”He does not deserve any mercy.” She said, ”Your Excellency, if he deserved it, it would not be mercy.” Napoleon was moved by the simple reasoning of the woman, the story goes, and decreed life to the sentry.

The thing we are interested in is that if we deserved it, it would not be mercy. So when you come to God, you do not need to plead your own righteousness; you can plead the mercy of God.

God Is Interested In His People

The third thing that we would have you notice is presented in verse 19, where Daniel bases his appeal upon God's own person. He says:

Daniel 9:

19O 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.

We pray differently in this New Testament age. We don't say, ”For God's sake;” we say, ”for Jesus's sake,” and those are not empty words. They mean simply that we pray, ”Lord, we are not worthy, and there is no reason You should answer any of our prayers, but for Jesus's sake, answer our prayer.” God cannot turn a deaf ear to the name of Jesus, as he could not turn a deaf ear to His own name in the Old Testament.

The Answer Brought By Gabriel

In verse 21 you will find the last thing I want you to notice with me about the entire lesson. I mentioned that this is not an answered prayer; it is an interrupted prayer. In verse 21, we read:

Daniel 9:

21Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

We find, in verse 21, how God answered this prayer: ”Even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” If it seems strange that Gabriel should descend with the answer, remember the story of Jacob's ladder as it is explained in the first chapter of the gospel of John. Remember that God said that is how our prayers will be answered—angels ascending to Heaven with the request and angels descending from Heaven with the answer.

For reasons known to God Himself, not very many people have the opportunity of seeing angels with the visible eye. But it was a common thing in the Old Testament. When angels made their appearance, they took upon themselves the form of a man. That is the reason Daniel said, ”I saw the man Gabriel.” God sent him with an answer, and Gabriel engaged Daniel in conversation. You will notice what is said about him in verse 21: ”Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” How far is Heaven: I don't know. It is beyond the stars. It is in the north place. That is one place where there won't be any space exploration, you can be sure. There is an empty space in the north where there are no stars and no planets, and that is the direction in which the book of Job says Heaven is. I don't know how far away it is, but this passage of Scripture says that Gabriel flew swiftly. He made the journey in the length of time that it took Daniel to pray this prayer that we have read. If this is the full prayer—not just a brief outline as some people think, but I don't know how we would know—you can understand how quickly Gabriel came. No matter how far away Heaven is, it is close enough for God to keep in touch with us. Remember that.

God's Love For Daniel

Then you will notice what Gabriel said in verse 23:

Daniel 9:

23At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

I wish I could pray like that. I wish I could pray so that the very moment I say, ”Lord,” the Lord would say to an angel, ”Get busy and take the answer.” He wouldn't wait even to hear what all I had to say. He wouldn't need to; he could trust me to pray. I say I wish I could pray like that. Daniel could. God let Daniel go ahead and utter this petition, but even before he got it said, God had dispatched Gabriel with the answer to his prayer. What was the answer? ”You've been wondering about something, Daniel. You've been mystified about it. You've been disturbed about it. I've come to explain it to you.” The last part of chapter 9 is the explanation.

Shall we bow our heads together for prayer: Father, we are grateful for the privilege of prayer. We find in our hearts the cry of the Psalm writer, ”Lord, teach us to pray.” We realize, our Father, that most of the time we are just saying words. Most of the time we are just filling up time. Help us to pray, and grant, our Father, that we may be as beloved as was Daniel, that the answers to our prayers may be dispatched even before we have made the request. For we pray in Jesus's name and for His sake. Amen.


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