Lately, I have been spending time in Daniel chapter 9. This chapter has Daniel offering one of the great prayers in the Bible. And as an example to us, here we see how a man of God prayed to the Lord.
We are told in this chapter that Daniel realizes that the 70 years of Babylonian captivity are about up, and the Jews would be returning to Jerusalem soon. Daniel decides to pray to God about this. It is interesting that instead of praying for God to send them back to Jerusalem, out from under their pain of their circumstances and into freedom, this is a prayer of repentance!
As I reflect on the life of Daniel, he seems to be one of the few Old Testament characters that lives a consistently righteous life with no major screw ups. Many great men of the Bible had great flaws, which can be comforting for us that have flaws, but Daniel operated with wisdom and an unwavering desire to follow God throughout his life. Under great pressure and persecution, he never seemed to waver in his commitment to God no matter what the circumstance.
However, in the opening of his prayer he confesses his sins and the sins of Israel. In verse 5 he says, “we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from your commandments and ordinances.”
I would have thought it would be appropriate for Daniel to observe that Israel had served its due sentence and it was now time for God to return them to Jerusalem.
But instead, Daniel repents for the Nation, including himself, and asks God to forgive him and the Nation based on God’s righteousness, compassion and love. Verse 7 shows us this attitude, “Righteousness belongs to you, oh Lord, but to us open shame…”.
This chapter has had a profound effect on my prayer life. It has made me realize that no matter how long I have walked with God, no matter how well I am living in obedience, I must come before Him with an attitude of repentance and humility. I do believe this was why Daniel lived a faithful life.
Daniel never thought he “arrived” in his faith. He always demonstrated an attitude of humility and dependance upon the living God. This is likely a main reason Daniel was so steady in his walk with God.
Paul seems to have this attitude as well when later in his life he refers to himself as the “foremost (chief) of sinners” in 1Timothy 1:15.
In the last Chapter of Daniel an angel tells him, “But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.” (Daniel 12:13).
Daniel will be rewarded for his faithfulness.