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Lowell Brueckner

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Daniel's Heartfelt Prayer


The Book of the Prophet Daniel

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end.”
Daniel 12:4

Chapter 9:1-19                                    Daniel's Heartfelt Prayer

1.  In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 
2.  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. 

Timewise, we are going back to within a year after the Persian conquest of Babylon. We are coming up on a very important and joyful year for God´s people. It is between 539 and 538 B.C. and the Judean captivity in Babylon began in 606 B.C., about 68 years earlier.

Why is this so important? It is because Daniel is living within three years of the fulfillment of a prophecy made by Jeremiah. Daniel has been studying the Scriptures and that practice in itself is worthy of our consideration. Men of God, who long to know the Lord’s plan and what He is bringing to pass in their day, should be students of Scripture. God reveals His will through the Scriptures!

Let us go to Jeremiah and remember the situation, when Israel was being threatened by a Babylonian invasion. Up until recently before that time, Israel was, for the most part, in denial, but now it had become crystal clear that Babylon indeed was going to take Jerusalem. God commanded Jeremiah to put a yoke-bar on his neck to symbolize the coming captivity, not only for Israel, but also for Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon (Jer.27:2,3).

A prophet named Hananiah took the yoke off Jeremiah and broke it, declaring that the Lord would break Nebuchadnezzar’s hold on all those nations within two years. Jeremiah said that he was making the people trust in a lie, because the true prophets had prophesied war, famine and pestilence. A true prophet will help the people confront truth, while a false prophet will try to please the people, telling them what they want to hear (Jer.28:1-8,10). This has always been the case with optimism, positive speaking and thinking. These false principles continue today and A. W. Tozer called them heresy. See

Just as the judgment of insanity upon Nebuchadnezzar would need a period of seven full years to bring the king into submission to heavenly rule, so Jeremiah had prophesied that Israel would remain in disciplinary captivity for 70 years (Jer.25:11-12; Jer.29:10). Just as the people, who loved truth in Jeremiah’s day, so Daniel readily believed it in his day. That time was happily drawing to a close.

Please notice that the prophecy is clearly literal. There is no question to ask concerning the meaning of 70 years. There was nothing to interpret concerning the advent of the Messiah either. “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son (Is.7:14)… O Bethlehem… from you shall come for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Mic.5:2)… He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities (Is.53:5).” And there will be nothing to interpret concerning this prophecy: “An angel… seized… the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years… The souls of those who had been beheaded… came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev.20:1,2,4).

Towards the end of this same chapter that we have open before us, Daniel has some things to prophesy, which will have literal fulfillment at the first, and just before the second, coming of Christ.

3.  Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 
4.  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, 
5.  we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 
6.  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. 
7.  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. 
8.  To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 
9.  To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 
10.  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. 
11.  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. 
12.  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. 
13.  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. 
14.  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. 

Upon discovering Jeremiah’s prophecy and the closeness to its completion, Daniel turns to prayer. Before we study that prayer, I think we need to ask the question, as to why prayer is necessary in this case. Why pray about something that will surely take place, because God has given His word? I would answer that the will of God is accompanied by the prayers of His people. According to Paul: “All the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory,” (2 Co.1:20). God gives his promises as yes… that is, they are positively meant to be surely fulfilled. To the glory of God, we pronounce an amen to His promise… that is, we believe that His promise is absolutely authoritative and so we confirm it, as far as we are concerned, and that faith brings glory to God.  

God has said that Israel will be freed after 70 years of captivity… He said yes! Daniel said amen, in total compliance with the promise of God, by going to prayer. That is what it means to pray, according to the will of God. The promises do not negate prayer, they encourage and incite us to pray. Because He has promised, we know that He will surely hear us.

There is business that must be taken care of and that business is what put the Jews in this situation in the first place. It is their sin. They cannot be released, until that problem has been resolved. Daniel came to God by faith, pleading that the problem be resolved through His mercy.  He turns to the Lord for the answer.

He outwardly demonstrates the seriousness of his heart, because of his awareness of the awfulness of sin and the awe of the holy nature of God. He comes with fasting and in sackcloth and ashes. He is humbling himself, seriously and remorsefully confronting the dilemma by desperate prayer. The time is drawing near and something must happen. No business in his governmental position could compare to the extremely important business that he was conducting before God. He was involved, body and soul.

Theology always comes into real, effective prayer. The God that Daniel approaches is Lord, and He is great and awesome. How can we pray with any confidence, if we don’t know these things? He is faithful; He “keeps covenant and steadfast love”. Those, who turn to the Lord in prayer are those, who love Him, and demonstrate their love by obedience. The principle never changes; Jesus said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me… I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn.14:21).

He is heart-sick for the sins of his people and in his confession, he does not exclude himself from that sin. The pronoun is we… we have sinned. His prayer is desperate, because he is deeply impressed with sin, as everyone must be, if he is seeking forgiveness. “We have sinned… done wrong… acted wickedly… rebelled”, turning away from Your commandments. He not only confessed the evil deeds, but also, he confessed turning a deaf ear to His servants, the prophets.

God is righteous and we are not; He is right and we are wrong. As David said, “So that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Ps.51:4). You will never get anywhere with God, if you have Him on trial, through a humanistic mentality, justifying yourself and blaming Him. “To us, O Lord, belongs open shame.”

Daniel’s hope is not in human righteousness, that is, in justifying ourselves, but in the mercy and forgiveness of God. This is spiritual principle throughout the Bible. Nowhere does it teach that we can rely on our goodness or in the value of our good deeds. He looks at the guilt of the people from every angle and includes every person… men of Judah, inhabitants of Jerusalem, our kings, our princes, our fathers, all Israel.  Through it all, he justifies God and gives Him glory. It is very much like Paul’s argument in Romans 3:10-18 (citing Psalms 14:1-3, and other texts).

God is righteous, not only in what He has commanded, but also in carrying out His sentence against Israel. He is right in His law and He is right in the sentence that He has determined for every transgression of the law.

15.  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. 
16.  "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. 
17.  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. 
18.  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. 
19.  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." 

As many prophets and apostles before and after him, Daniel remembered Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt, which God worked on their behalf. This milestone from their early history was written indelibly in the memory of every true Israelite. In it, God revealed His heart of compassion for his suffering nation of slaves, as well as demonstrating His awesome power in freeing them from the most powerful ruler of that time and destroying his formidable army. The Lord’s fame spread throughout the earth and brought fear upon all His enemies. His purpose was to bring them into the Promised Land and now, it was His purpose, to bring them back to that land.

All of the biblical characters in the Old Testament and the New, along with all true Christians throughout church history, were well aware of God’s wrath. They saw it as a righteous manifestation against sin. Only because of the humanistic mentality of our day, do we see evangelicals taken aback by a reference to it, and some leaders these days would like to eliminate it from public preaching. However, Daniel was not so ignorant of this holy attribute in the nature of God and begs Him to turn from his anger. Because the surrounding nations had observed its devastating effect upon the people, they had lost respect for the Jews.

Prayer warriors knew how to wrestle with God, by bringing before Him the worthiness of His own name. Daniel was already doing this, when he spoke of His people becoming a byword among their neighbors. It was more than a bargaining point; Daniel was jealous of everything that might reflect against God’s glory. For the same reason, he pointed to the abandoned temple and the city, which was called by His name. “For your own sake, O Lord,” Daniel prays in verse 17 and 19, this slander must be brought to an end.

Daniel coveted the face of God to shine again upon the sanctuary. This was a plea for spiritual revival and many times throughout history, God’s people have been reduced to prayer. Their situation had overwhelmed them, they had no strength against the forces that mounted up against them, and prayer was their last and only recourse. With the flame of their testimony flickering and about to die,  with their young people abandoning the congregation and wandering into the world, staring in the face of defeat, wounded soldiers cried out to the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts to come down, strengthen them, heal them, and lead them against the foe.

He has always responded to their cry and Daniel, as well, will meet a heavenly messenger, who will come in response to his prayer. Hear his repeated pleas for an audience!  “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not!”

Above all that we might learn from Daniel’s prayer, we must catch a basic and essential spiritual principle, found in the following statement: “For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.” We must never expect an answer from God, because of any worthiness on our part. An attitude of self-righteousness or self-justification is fatal in the presence of a holy God. As the publican, who could not lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, so our one hope is in the mercy of God.

This is a model prayer for a New Testament people. There is nothing outdated about it. If we intend that our words should reach heaven, this must become our prayer. It can only proceed from a heavy, burdened heart, and it must be thoroughly cleansed from all pretense and hypocrisy. I remember a member of a Lutheran Church, who came to the door of his pastor, where I was staying. He no sooner got inside the door, when he cried out, “I am not pretending! I need salvation!” O Lord, O Lord, give us that kind of sincere, simple heart! 


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