Daniel models the powerful prayer of a humble person. He
reveals how a true man of God approaches the Sovereign God of
the Universe on behalf of his nation. His prayer should be
read and studied in light of 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble
themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their
wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive
their sin and will heal their land.
God gave specific instructions on praying for one’s
nation in the time of Solomon. Daniel followed God’s
instructions in his intercessory prayer, praying on behalf
of his people and their land. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 and
Daniel 9:4-19, two sides to prayer are present, man’s part
and God’s part as illustrated by the following chart.
Intercession for One’s Nation
COVENANT RELATIONSHIP: “If my people, who are called by
my name” indicates there must be a covenant relationship
with God (cf. Daniel 9:4b).
CONTRITE HEART: “Will humble themselves” is to approach
the Lord with a repentant spirit (cf. Daniel 9:3).
CONSULT GOD: “And pray” is to beseech God first and
foremost (cf. Daniel 9:4a).
CONFESSION OF SIN: “Seek my face” requires confession
(cf. Daniel 9:4c-16).
CHANGE OF WAYS: “And turn from their wicked ways” is
the act of repentance (cf. Daniel 9:11).
COMMUNICATION CONNECTION: “Then will I hear from
heaven” is the assurance that God will give ear to prayer
and hear it (cf. Daniel 9:17-18a).
COMPASSIONATE RESPONSE: “And will forgive their sin”
indicates that God will be merciful (cf. Daniel 9:18b).
COVENANT ACTION: “And will heal their land” indicates
God is obligated under His covenant promises to act when
His people respond this way (cf. Daniel 9:19).
Daniel combines covenant and love in “His covenant of
love” to define why God is great and awesome. Love (dox
hesed) is best translated as “steadfast-loving-kindness.”
The combination of Hesed and His covenant is equivalent to
saying, “God is faithful,” a fact that saturates this
prayer from its beginning to its end. Certainly, Daniel's
heart was beating in tune with Jeremiah 29:12-14 and 2
I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: "O Lord,
the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love
with all who love him and obey his commands, we have
sinned and done wrong.
It is a theological error to believe that God
unconditionally loves us and will keep His promises of
blessing, no matter what we do. The blessings of the
Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Palestinian, Davidic
and New Covenants each carry the obligation of love, which
Jesus has defined, “If you love me, you will obey what I
command” (John 14:15).
While God’s greatness exalts Him above man, it also
brings Him near to those who love and obey Him. There are
at least seven truths about God in Daniel’s prayer.
1. He is a great God.
2. He is an awesome God to be
3. He keeps His covenants with
steadfast-loving-kindness to those loving Him.
is a righteous God.
5. He is a God of judgment.
He is a God of mercy and forgiveness.
7. He is a God
Daniel’s prayer manifests three steps to receiving the
blessing of God:
1. Prayer and confession of sin
2. Turning from
3. Understanding and obeying truth
Daniel records that “I prayed to (Yahweh) my ('elohiym,
God),” yet he began his prayer “O (adonai, Lord);” thereby
he has utilized the three primary Hebrew words for the
Divine. The prophet recognized his own covenant
relationship with God when he said, “Yahweh’s my God.”
When he prayed on behalf of his people, he did not begin
with the covenant Name of Yahweh since the Jews were
outside the covenant relationship at that time. Therefore,
confession of sin
immediately followed the hallowing
of God’s name.
With the exception of Christ, Joseph and Daniel are the
most spotless (purest) characters of the Bible. Yet,
Daniel identifies himself with the sin of his people. The
solidarity of the nation is all-inclusive—the righteous
and the unrighteous—have sinned and done wrong. Consider
the verbs that Daniel employed to describe their woeful
He acknowledged what Yahweh had said about Israel
through the prophets. The Biblical meaning of the word
“confess” is to agree with God. That is the way to
understand the term “confess” in 1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and
will forgive us our sins and purify us from all
No excuses, no skirting the facts, just an outright
declared recognition of iniquity and trespasses, which is
what God requires to forgive sin. Hence, a large portion
of Daniel’s prayer contains specific acknowledgments of
unrighteousness. He confessed sins of commission and
omission, not by the rulers alone but by all Israel. He
acknowledged the nation’s failure to obey the Scriptures
and its failure to seek the favor of Yahweh in prayer—the
two things that had ultimately brought the disaster upon
them (verses 13-14).
He acknowledged that sin is wrongdoing, wickedness,
rebellion, and a turning away from God’s commands and law.
Sin is the outcome of not listening to God and obeying
Him. Like Paul, Daniel discovered from reading the Law of
Moses and the prophets that all fall short of the glory
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even
one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks
God. All have turned away, they have together become
worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one“
(Romans 3:10-12; cf. Isaiah 53:6).
God’s law exposes the fact that all are sinners (cf.
Romans 7:12-13). Therefore, Daniel confessed that the
nation of Israel is one hundred percent at fault. There
were no complaints like in Job. God is right and just in
His actions. The nation’s rebellion had compelled God to
bring the promised curses on His people and His land
(Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Leviticus 26:39-45). For instance,
Yahweh had predicted through Moses in Leviticus 26:33-34:
I will scatter you among the nations and will draw
out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste,
and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will
enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate
and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land
will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.
Consequently, the writer of Chronicles recorded that
the Babylonian captivity was a result of the Israelites
not observing the sabbath rests. Over a period of 490
years, the land had missed 70 rests as the Israelites
continuously cultivated the land. Significantly, the time
marker of the vision that follows Daniel’s prayer is
“seventy sevens” or 490 years. Counting back 490 years
from 586 B.C., one arrives at a time prior to the
monarchy, known as the period of the Judges. It appears
that the kings did not enforce the sabbath rests for the
land; so God took what was due His land.
The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its
desolation it rested, until the seventy years were
completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by
Jeremiah (2 Chronicles 36:21).
Daniel acknowledged in His prayer that the destruction
of Jerusalem and the captivity were of God.
You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and
against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster.
Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like
what has been done to Jerusalem.
What had been done to Jerusalem? Thirty months (two and
one-half years) of siege by the Babylonians had brought
starvation, cannibalism, and then the total destruction of
Jerusalem. It was a great disaster!
Daniel believed in God’s sovereignty, yet he understood
the free will of man. He did not sit back on his recliner
and wait for the completion of the seventy years. It might
be four years off or even twenty years depending upon when
God began counting. He immediately did something about
it—he prayed for God to act and not to delay!