“O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
God is sovereign in his world and Daniel knew that. He knew it in theory and in practicer. He knew it from his study of God’s word and he knew it in everyday living, much of which was challenging in the extreme. When he was taken, with others, captive to Babylon he already knew his God and was committed to walking with him. Now an old man with the end of the captivity in sight this great prayer shows much of his thinking towards God and his relationship with God from which, as I hope we have been discovering over the past few days, we can learn much.
I venture that the closing words, in bold above, give us perhaps the greatest lesson we all need to learn in our praying – namely that everything must be for the glory of God.
Daniel’s great concern was that in what had happened to him and the people of Judah, did despite to the name of God and the glory of God. Jerusalem was broken down. God’s special people were in captivity and therefore God’s name was dishonoured in the eyes of the surrounding nations and that grieved Daniel deeply. So he urges God to act for his name’s sake.
He could not plead his or the people’s righteousness for, as the confession part of his prayer indicates, that was worthless. He and they were entirely dependant on God’s mercy and that was bound up with all of his being and attributes. So driven by his desire that God should be exalted before all the surrounding nations his prayer is heartfelt and we might say abrupt!
O Lord pay attention and act. Delay not.
Note here, his prayer is not that he might go home although that is the promise that spurred the prayer in the first place 9 v.2 but that the restoration might be for the sake of God’s name. He could not bear to see and hear God maligned on the basis that the Babylonians had somehow beaten him in that they were able to take his people captive.
Do we have a similar deep desire to see God acknowledged ? After all, that is what we are here for if we are Christians for, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it
‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.’
May all our living, all our loving, all our prayers and all our service be to that end, costly as such commitment will be.
Note finally that, v.23 ‘As soon as he began to pray an answer was given.
Pray boldly, pray big, pray for the glory of God and pray expectantly.