The Prophet Daniel is one of the great men of the Bible. To give credence to that claim, he was twice acknowledged by God as “greatly beloved” through angels as they spoke the words of God to Him. Even Jesus in His Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24:3ff based His teaching around the prophecies of Daniel, naming him in Matthew 24:15 saying:
“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand).”
Daniel was a smart young educated man who was taken captive from Jerusalem to Babylon at about the age of 17 and made a eunuch before eventually rising to govern the country for King Nebuchadnezzar, outliving the 70-year period of the Hebrew Babylonian exile, and dying in Babylon in his nineties.
The eschatological prophecies of Daniel form an end-times prophetic ‘skeleton’ around which all other end times prophecies, including the Book of Revelation, are hung. It is impossible to make sense of the book of Revelation without a working knowledge of, and reference to, the Book of Daniel.
Three words characterise the life of Daniel: Purpose, Prayer and Prophecy.
Daniel was purpose driven and was able to stand on his own two feet, both of which were solidly founded in the tradition of his Hebraic religion. His belief in God and his drive to follow his God and to comply with God’s Laws, was central to who he was.
As a result of his determination to put God first and foremost in his life and to do everything as a praise offering to God, even his enemies acknowledged that there was nothing to be found against him:
“Then the presidents and rulers sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom. But they could find no occasion or fault, because he was faithful. Neither was there any error or fault found in him” Daniel 6:4.
When troubles came to Daniel, as they did surely come, Daniel’s first response was Prayer. As Daniel 2:17-19 says
“Then Daniel went to his house and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might pray for the mercies of God in Heaven concerning this secret, that Daniel and his companions should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. And Daniel blessed the God of Heaven.”
and as Daniel 6:10 says:
“And when he had learned that the document was signed, Daniel went to his house. And his windows were open in his roof room toward Jerusalem; and he kneeled on his knees three times a day and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did before.”
The results of both Daniel’s Prayer Life and his total dedication to being the man whom God had called him to be, his prayers were heard in Heaven and were answered, as Daniel 10:12 demonstrates in a message from an angel saying:
“…. Do not fear, Daniel; for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to chasten yourself before your God, your words were heard. And I have come for your words.”
Daniel 9:20-23 also shows the results, the very personal results of the dedicated prayerful life which Daniel led, as he says in his own testimony:
“And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my cry before Jehovah my God for the holy mountain of my God; yes, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, touched me in my severe exhaustion, about the time of the evening sacrifice.”
One of the underpinnings to Daniel’s prayer life and indeed his life-style, was fasting. Daniel fasted and prayed, a combination which shakes the enemy as it brings us into a closer relationship with the Lord God.
There are two instances of Daniel fasting which are recorded, vegetarian fasts of 10 and 21 days, after which the “Daniel Fast” has been named.
The first is Daniel 1:12 where Daniel asks his overseer on behalf of himself and his three fellow captives: “I beg you, try your servants ten days. And let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.” (The word translated here as vegetables is actually the Hebrew word זרע or “Pulse,” a grain in the form of chickpea or millet or such.)
The second is Daniel 10:2-3 “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no food for delight, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, until three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
Given that other than the King, there was nobody there to monitor or instruct or guide Daniel, the purpose which he showed in his life shines through for all to see. Daniel wanted to comply with the Law of his God, even although there was nobody there to see him or check him, other than God. Even too, if it cost him his life to do so.
The Book of Daniel contains two prayers, one short Daniel 2:19-23 and one long, Daniel 9:3-19. The first is a prayer of thanks, the second a prayer of supplication for his people, his nation and his capital city, Jerusalem.
The two prayers from Daniel (which follow) are worthy of use and study. One advantage of these prayers for us is that as they were particular prayers for a particular reason, rather than sample or model prayers, we need to put effort into them when we use them, so as to modify them for our circumstances and personalise them for our needs.
Nevertheless, they provide wonderful examples of prayer which we know, God answered in His own unique way.
I say that God answered them in His way after I recognised that Daniel did not ask the Lord for a set outcome, or put forward a suggestion as to how God should do His work. Daniel left the solution to the problem to the granter of the prayers, to God.
We can be certain too, that Daniel was, or had just finished, fasting when he prayed. When one reads the Book of Daniel, there is no trace of pride to be found in Daniel or his three fellow captives.
Indeed, there is a calmness in the Book of Daniel which only comes from humility. Fasting added to their humility and the results were spectacular.
See how even God Himself acknowledges the mental and physical attitude which Daniel adopted in prayer as He says through the angel “ for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to chasten yourself before your God” Daniel 10:12. O’ that we could all learn from that as we cry out to the Lord in prayer.
I pray that as you read these prayers of Daniel, they will touch you in that deep place which only the Word of God can reach and touch; that they will plant God’s seeds in you which will come to a magnificent multiplied fruition very soon; that they will work a change of understanding in you.
“….. And Daniel blessed the God of Heaven. Daniel answered and said:
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.
I thank You, and praise You, O God of my fathers, who has given me wisdom and might, and have made known to me now what we asked of You. For You have now made known to us the king’s matter.”
“And I set my face toward the Lord God, to seek by prayer and holy desires, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to Jehovah my God, and made my confession, and said:
O Lord, the great and awesome God, keeping the covenant and mercy to those who love Him, and to those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Your commandments and from Your judgements.
Neither have we listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our rulers, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us the shame of our faces, as it is today to the men of Judah and to the people of Jerusalem, and to all Israel who are near and who are afar off, through all the countries where You have driven them because of their sin which they have sinned against You.
O Lord, shame of face belongs to us, to our kings, to our rulers, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him.
We have not obeyed the voice of Jehovah our God, to walk in His Laws which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
Yea, all Israel has transgressed Your Law, and turned aside, that they might not obey Your voice. Therefore the curse has been poured out on us, and the oath that is written in the Law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him.
And He has confirmed His Words which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing on us a great evil. For under all the heavens it has not been done as it has been done to Jerusalem.
As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this evil has come on us. Yet we did not make our prayer before Jehovah our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand Your truth.
Therefore Jehovah has watched over the evil, and has brought it on us. For Jehovah our God is righteous in all His works which He does; for we did not obey His voice.
And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out from the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have brought fame to Yourself, as it is today, we have sinned, we have done wrong.
O Lord, I pray You, according to all Your righteousness let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain. Because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a curse to all those who are around us.
And now, O our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his holy desires, and cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
O my God, bow down Your ear and hear. Open Your eyes and behold our ruins, and the city which is called by Your name. For we do not present our prayers before You on account of our righteousnesses, but because of Your great mercies.
O Jehovah, hear; O Jehovah, forgive; O Jehovah, listen and do. Do not delay, for Your own sake, O my God; for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
Amen and Amen and Amen!