Daniel was a man of prayer. His prayers can teach us who live in this chaotic and dangerous world!
Daniel did at least six things in his prayers that deserve our attention:
•he prayed very much in earnest;
•he depended on God’s righteousness, not his own;
•he used the Bible;
•he confessed his own sins and the sins of his group;
•he sought God’s glory and His sanctuary; and
•he claimed God’s promises.
Effective prayer involves both words and attitude!
In harmony with the customs of his day, Daniel emphasized his deep longing with words and actions. He fasted and wore sackcloth — worn in times of deep sorrow or spiritual agitation. It expressed his heartfelt humility.
Nothing indicates that Daniel was trying to earn brownie points by his actions. He did not call God’s attention to himself, he said, “We do not ask because we deserve help, but because you are so merciful.” (Daniel 9:18)
James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” but Paul reminds us in Romans 3:10 “that there is none righteous, no, not one!” So what are we to do? Do what Daniel did!
Come to God just as we are. It is the only way we can come. We are all sinners. Confess your sins and ask God to hear on the grounds of His righteousness and mercy. Jesus invites us to come in His name at John 14:13, 14.
Daniel used the Bible in his prayer. His words show that he had an intimate knowledge of God’s word.
Leviticus 26:40-42 says, “But at last my people will confess their sins. … Finally, … their disobedient hearts will be humbled. … Then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, with Isaac, and with Abraham, and I will remember the land.”
And Daniel prayed at Daniel 9:6-11 “We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke your messages to … all the people of the land. ‘Lord, you are in the right; but our faces are covered with shame, just as you see us now. This is true of us all, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel. O Lord, we and our kings, princes and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. We have not obeyed the Lord our God, for we have not followed the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All … disobeyed your law and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice.’ ”
Daniel identified with his people while praying. He was not like many today who blame others for troubles.
Our prayer should be “O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, O my God, do not delay, for your people!”
O God, bring in a new day soon. Let your church, your people, be changed into your likeness. Make us clean, generous, forgiving and kind. May we bring glory to you.
Daniel was God’s man; we can be too, if we but seek and obey God daily.
Ian Cotton is the retired pastor of the Creston Seventh-day Adventist Church.