Today we are going to investigate the prayer of a man God calls “beloved.” Most of you know him as the one who survived a night in the lion’s den for praying on the behalf of his captured nation.
Daniel was studying the Scriptures and knew from the book of Jeremiah that the time of Israel’s deliverance was drawing near. God promised after 70 years in captivity, He would arise and bring His people back home. Instead of just waiting for it to come to pass, he committed to intercede.
It was this commitment to intercession that led to the showdown with the Babylonian government and their ill advised, idolatrous decree. There was a prayer and worship “lock down” issued by the Babylonian government. No “petitions (to) any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king. Otherwise, they “shall be cast into the den of lions” (Daniel 6:7b).
Daniel, not just acting as a private citizen, but a lesser magistrate, interposed and ignored and defied the unjust, wicked decree. Later, after miraculously surviving the lion’s den, he continued his ministry of intercession. Pay close attention to this prayer and perhaps model it as you pray for yourselves, your family, the church and our beleaguered nation.
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
“O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
“As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
“O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on [b]Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
One comment on this prayer. Noticed that Daniel stated “we” a lot. Even though, he personally did not sin as his fathers nor the people of his nation. God, who is not shy about exposing the failures and sins of his most chosen men, had nothing negative to say of Daniel. He was the ‘beloved” of God and yet Daniel took ownership for the sins, abominations, and rebellion of his nation before God.
This drives home one of the definitions of true intercession. Part of intercession is to “take the place of.” Most of our nation as they are struggling to come to grips with the “new normal” do not have the Biblical and godly sense to humble themselves, cry out to God, repent and acknowledge the truth, whereby their souls might be saved.
It is left to us who know the Lord to follow Daniel’s godly example to stand in the gap and make up the hedge, lest, the warning of Ezekiel goes unheeded.
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 22:30, 31).