After a long life marked by many years of turning to God in prayer, it was natural for Daniel to call out to God in honesty and openness when his world was out of balance. And once again, Daniel was wrestling with a situation that brought both joy and pain.
As Daniel studied the writings of the prophets, he realized that the time was quickly coming for the Israelites’ punishment of exile to end. For an Israelite, fewer joys could surpass the end of their exile and the return to their homeland. Daniel felt this joy.
And yet, Daniel knew that before their exile could end, God still required the Israelites to confess and turn away from their sin of worshiping other gods. Daniel also knew that the people were not prepared to do so. Can you imagine his grief at this realization? But no matter how deep his grief or how frightening the consequences, Daniel could not make the disobedient people see the harm they were doing to themselves.
So Daniel did what he always did in times of deep distress and trouble. “I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting…and confessed: ‘O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and keep your commands. But we have sinned and done wrong. But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. The Lord has brought against us the disaster he prepared, for we did not obey him, and the Lord our God is just in everything he does’” (Dan. 9:3-5,9,14).
There is much to learn from Daniel’s prayer. We learn that Daniel was spiritually humble in spite of his earthly prominence. Although Scripture is silent about Daniel’s sins, he recognized that his sins—even if unknown by others—needed to be confessed to God as much as any other person’s. Daniel prayed for himself as well as for others.
We learn that Daniel understood the justice of God’s actions. God had warned His people about the consequences of turning away from Him, so Daniel did not blame God for the choices that others made or for the consequences of those choices.
We learn that Daniel knew the characteristics of God that make Him God. He rejoiced in God’s greatness, that God’s justice is offset by His mercy, and that God’s forgiveness is driven by His “unfailing love.” Daniel’s prayer captured his understanding of God’s nature and the trust he felt in God.
Daniel’s final cry to God captures the intensity of his emotion. “O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, O my God, do not delay…” (Dan. 9:19).
God did not delay but sent Gabriel, the mighty angel, with His response to Daniel’s prayer. “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. I am here to tell you what it was, for God loves you very much. Now listen, so you can understand” (Dan. 9:23).
With only a few words, Gabriel told Daniel three important things. Daniel was assured that “God loves you very much.” Daniel was promised that God wanted to give him “insight and understanding.” Daniel was told that “the moment you began praying, a command was given.”
No matter what the circumstances in our lives, God’s responses to Daniel’s prayer are the same for us as we pray. God loves us. God hears us. God responds to us. God will give us insight and understanding if we seek it.
© 2010 Arlina Yates