The Exquisite Prayer of Daniel (9:1-17)

By Not Known

A careful study on the Word of God caused Daniel to turn to the Lord God and to plead with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. The portions of God’s Word carefully studied by Daniel were most probably Jeremiah 25:11-12 and 29:10-11, which mentioned the seventy years of exile in Babylon. The death of Belshazzar brought to an end, the Babylonian empire. The rise of Darius to power commenced the Medo-Persian Empire. Daniel understood the time for the Jews’ return to the land was imminent, so he prayed for the restoration of the nation Israel, and his prayer was an exquisite one.
The exquisite prayer of Daniel contains three parts: Adoration, confession, and supplication.
Daniel begins his prayer with adoration (v4b), “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments.”
Daniel follows his brief adoration of God with a lengthy confession of sin. This may seem strange to us because Daniel always sought to obey God’s law. As far as we know, Daniel had always been faithful to God – faithful unto death. Why then this lengthy confession of sin? The reason is, Daniel identifies with the people of Israel. He prays on behalf of the people of Israel. In his confession of sin in the next ten verses (vv5-14), he uses the pronouns ‘we’ seven times and ‘us’ eight times. Daniel suffered greatly because of the sins of others. It was not his idolatry that caused the captivity, but the idolatry of his parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Yet, Daniel owned the sin as his own, spent no time contemplating the injustice of his situation, and pleaded for God’s mercy and forgiveness as if he himself had been the most blasphemous of idolaters.
After his brief adoration and lengthy confession, Daniel concludes his prayer with a moving supplication (vv15-17). His supplication is based on two things:
Firstly, God’s righteous act; God is just, Israel had been punished for their sins, and now it will be right (‘just’) for God to restore the nation. Secondly, for God’s own sake; his renown, and his own glory, is at stake. God’s city and God’s people are ‘a disgrace’ among their neighbours, and that reflects on God himself. The neighbouring nations will think that Israel’s God is weak. He cannot even protect his own temple and his own city, so for God’s ‘own sake’, Daniel pleads with God, “O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.” Here, Daniel uses the expression of ‘priestly benediction’; ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you ….’ (Num 6:24-25; cf. Ps 80) The temple is ruined because of God’s anger. Daniel asks God to bless the temple so that it may be rebuilt and once again bring glory to God.
Daniel’s prayer is a powerful one. Through his prayer, Daniel wants to assure his people that despite their sins against God that causes this calamity, God is indeed a merciful and forgiving God. He will put an end to sin and bring in everlasting righteousness. Yahweh is the faithful covenant God. He will establish his perfect everlasting Kingdom.


Herna Kong