As we begin a Week of Prayer at CFC, yesterday’s devotional, below, from EMW seemed particularly appropriate, so I reprint it here.
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.
The Bible contains numerous accounts of people praying and this prayer is among the most famous. The circumstances Daniel finds himself in are truly terrible. The Jewish nation has been in exile for 67 years and there is nothing to indicate that salvation is near. His people’s spiritual condition is deteriorating rapidly, and it appears as if Daniel himself is at the mercy of whoever is on the throne – Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and now Darius. Yet through it all, Daniel continues to read his Bible (some of the Old Testament!) and to pray. His sets us an excellent example of faithfulness and constancy in our spiritual life. Please note the third verse: –
Daniel has just been reading Jeremiah 25 or 29. Here God states that the exile will last 70 years and that is why Daniel prays as he does here. He believes God’s Word! He understands that God is speaking to him in his situation. It is so important that we do likewise. Before we speak to God, He must speak to us, and we need to remember that it is by his invitation that we draw near to the Throne of Grace. The only reason we can do so is because of the glorious provision of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because God calls us and shows us through his Holy Spirit our condition and need, we can call upon him. Primarily we do not pray because it is a good idea or “the natural thing to do” but because a gentle voice is calling us.
Let us also note the intention. Daniel turned his face to the Lord. It is not that a gentle urge comes upon him that causes him to spend a few “spiritual” seconds. He purposefully turns to the Lord, and he pleads. It is important that we set time aside for prayer. This can be at the start or the end of the day or anytime in between but it helps to set a pattern. It is important to be intentional and determined about the work of seeking God. Daniel orders his thoughts as he lays hold upon the Lord because of the promise he has just read. He has a goal to his prayer. We must also pray for that which God has already promised. The promises are the ropes that we cling on to as we plead in prayer as the invitation to draw near to God is an invitation to ask of Him.
Lastly Daniel prays “with fasting, sackcloth and ashes”. This means that he guards his heart as he draws near to God. It is striking that he consistently says “we” when referring to his people’s sins. He does not consider himself to be better than anyone else. He confesses his own unworthiness. It is in this spirit that we should pray. Our motivation can be mixed even as we pray for the best of things. Pride can so easily rise to the surface, and we dare not don a mask in the presence of God! Let us give thanks that he promises time and again in his Word that he accepts sinners and listens to our prayers. This is the God we know in Jesus Christ – the sinners’ Friend.
Dewi Tudur (Eglwys Efengylaidd Ardudwy)