Through Daniel chapters 7 and 8 we’ve encountered various world powers depicted as terrifying beasts with wings and horns and teeth. Daniel’s been told that these visions are a picture of what is to come.
At the start of chapter 9, we read that the King of the Medes and Persians is now in charge. In other words, the first part of Daniel’s vision in chapter 8 has come true. Daniel now knows for sure that he is living in a time and in a land of wild beasts. The terrifying animals of the two previous chapters are coming to power!
So what can Daniel do? Should he just sit back and let it all happen? Or is there something he else he can do? Let’s turn to chapter 9 to find out.
Read Daniel 9:1-19
Where does Daniel turn? He turns to the stability and certainty of Scripture, he studies the words of God’s prophets. And his meditation leads him to prayer.
But not just a quickly muttered ‘arrow’ prayer just before he busies himself with the tasks of the day, nor is it a last minute afterthought as he lays his head down on the pillow. No, Daniel takes prayer seriously, he pleads with his God, he takes time, and he alters his lifestyle, in order to fully focus on coming before the Lord of all.
But hang on minute, surely if Daniel knows what’s coming because of the visions he’s seen, if he knows God’s sovereignty and is confident in His victory, why bother to pray? What can it possibly achieve?
Well Daniel knows that, yes, the Lord has ordained the end, but He has also decreed the means of reaching that end. Throughout salvation history, prayer has been central to the way in which the Lord achieves His purposes. God knows the end from the beginning and His will shall be done, but the faithful prayers of His people are an integral part of that will coming to pass. Prayer is one of the primary ways in which God works in and through His people.
But even as we read those words, most of us know in our own hearts that we find prayer difficult. We simply don’t set aside the time we should to come before the throne of God. In times of upheaval, we turn to our own resources, or the help of friends and family, long before we think to bring the Lord into things. And when we do pray, so often we lack any of the passion and zeal that Daniel displays here.
It’s important that we recognise that this wonderful, passionate prayer of Daniel is not possible because he’s some sort of spiritual giant, it’s not possible because he has a super special relationship with God. No, quite simply, this prayer is built on Daniel’s understanding of the visions he has been shown. Daniel’s prayer expresses what he has learned through the revelation that God has given him.
Over the next couple of days we’re going to unpack Daniel’s prayer and see how we might set about praying like he does. But for now, let’s thank God that we can pray at all. That, even in the middle of all sorts of unsettling things going on, we can turn to the Creator and Ruler of the universe and talk to Him. That is truly amazing!