Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:1-19 comes as a response to his study of Jeremiah 29. He realises that the 70 years the Israelites had to spend in captivity for their sins were nearing their end and anticipated the fulfilment of the prophecies made by Jeremiah. Instead of passively waiting for the prophecies to come to pass, Daniel recognises the power of prayer to hasten the hand of God.
Daniel’s realisation that the people of Israel were at a crucial point came by studying the Scriptures. Studying the Word of God reveals the heart of God to us. As Christians, we have been blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit who is always present to open our minds to the truths of the Bible (1 Cor. 2:12), convicting us of our sins and bringing us to repentance. However, this can only happen if we allow the Word to consistently challenge us (like in 2 Tim. 3:15-17). Daniel had studied as far back as the writings of Moses (vv. 11, 15) and recognised Israel’s rebellion even back then.
Daniel mentally and physically prepared himself to pray, as we see in verse 3: he
‘turned his face to God, seeking him by prayer…with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.’Daniel 9:3
He was intentional about prayer and approached God with complete humility. Daniel had paid attention to the words in Jeremiah 29:12-13 and set out to seek God.
Confession and Repentance
Even though Daniel was considered even by God to be upstanding, he did not isolate himself from the sins of Israel or apportion blame. He recalls and confesses specific sins of the people of Israel. True repentance begins with genuine, sincere and specific consideration and confession of our shortfalls; see how Daniel does not make any excuses for himself, but accepts Israel’s fault entirely and identifies himself with his people.
Plea for forgiveness and restoration
Daniel’s plea for forgiveness and restoration is based on his acknowledgement of the righteousness of God and faith that God will bring his promise to pass. Daniel made his requests in total submission and alignment with the plan of God. He invoked the very character of God as a God of mercy and who would not go back on his word (vv. 18,19).
Daniel’s prayer is an earnest confession of shortfalls and an intercession for God to act and not delay. We can be inspired by Daniel’s prayer and apply some of its features to our own prayers.