by Donna Berger ~
Most people have not read through the entire book of Daniel in the Bible. Surely many have heard the story of God delivering Daniel from the lion’s den or saving Daniel’s friends from the fiery furnace. We recognize familiar verses from it such as “put it in writing,” “[he or she] will have my head,” “knees were knocking,” and, “the handwriting is on the wall.” But in truth, the book displays for us some of Daniel’s choicest prayers. This week I would like to share one of those prayers with you. Daniel never travelled more than the approximately 750 miles from Jerusalem to Babylon and yet his world was truly a microcosm of our world today. Daniel and his people had been in captivity for seventy years, and through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord said,
“When seventy years are completed… 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place [Jerusalem] from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10-14
Daniel took the Lord’s words very literally and at the close of the seventieth year he began to pray. Daniel focused on the glory of God in his prayer, not on the benefit of man. He did not complain and he did not make excuses. And, while he personally walked faithfully with God for those 70 years, he uses the word “we” over and over, including himself among the sinners of Israel. Daniel’s prayer is considered by many to be one of the most powerful prayers of the Old Testament. Let us all pray this prayer together for our country and for the Lord to deliver us, His people, from the captivity of the difficult times we live in. There are no sides, or aisles or politics in this prayer, simply a yearning for what is right and good. That which gives glory to God.
Daniel 9:4-19 New Living Translation (NLT) 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. 5 But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. 6 We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.
7 “Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. 8 O Lord, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. 9 But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. 10 We have not obeyed the Lord our God, for we have not followed the instructions he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has disobeyed your instruction and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice.
“So now the solemn curses and judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured down on us because of our sin. 12 You have kept your word and done to us and our rulers exactly as you warned. Never has there been such a disaster as happened in Jerusalem. 13 Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the Lord our God by turning from our sins and [praying] recognizing his truth.14 Therefore, the Lord has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The Lord our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him.
15 “O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by rescuing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. But we have sinned and are full of wickedness. 16 In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.
17 “O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary [our world].
18 “O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.
19 “O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.”
Lord, hear our prayer and deliver us from evil.