So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded
with him in prayer and fasting.
Daniel 9:3 (NLT)
Daniel was a man of God. But just like you and I, one of the ways he learned and gained understanding was from reading the Word of God. On this particular day in 539BC, he was reading from Jeremiah. He read that Jerusalem would lie desolate for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). He also read that once the 70 years was completed, God would bring them back to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 29:10). As he read it, he knew that the 70 years was almost up because he himself had been exiled in 605BC, 66 years earlier. He immediately set himself to praying and fasting. He set his face like flint. He prayed for his people, identifying himself with their rebellion and unfaithfulness towards God. He cried out for God to rescue them, reminding Him of how He had brought them out of Egypt and of His faithfulness to them. He asked for God’s mercy and appealed to His great Name.
Later that year, King Cyrus defeated the city of Babylon and brought Babylonia into his empire. One of his first orders of business was to decree that the Israelites could return to Judea (Ezra 1:1-4). Daniel’s prayer had been answered. Soon after, the Jews began returning and Daniel returned in 535BC, 70 years after he had been exiled.
We do not know God’s timing. Jeremiah had prophesied the 70 year exile 150 years before it happened. Daniel read the prophecy and immediately took action in prayer. We have no such prophecy for our prodigals. We can’t look in the Bible and read a date for their return. But our hearts are burdened and filled with hope so we pray. We may also fast. But our focus today is on prayer. Our prayers matter to God.
Because of Daniel’s prayer, God ended the exile after 70 years. It’s almost like God didn’t choose for it to be 70 years, but it was 70 years because that’s when Daniel prayed, and Daniel prayed because he read the prophecy in Jeremiah that said the exile would end after 70 years. What if Daniel had not prayed? What if he had read the prophecy and ran and told others but neglected to talk to God about it? Would the exile have lasted longer? Would Jeremiah have prophesied a longer time, a time it took until someone prayed? Was God looking for someone to pray and partner with Him for the end of the exile? Remember, He sees the end from the beginning. Something to think about. Whether this is true or not, it gives you an idea of how important our prayers are…that God truly does partner with us in response to what we pray.
So, what are you asking God for?
4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:
“O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. 5 But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. 6 We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.
7 “Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. 8 O Lord, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. 9 But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. 10 We have not obeyed the Lord our God, for we have not followed the instructions he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has disobeyed your instruction and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice.
“So now the solemn curses and judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured down on us because of our sin. 12 You have kept your word and done to us and our rulers exactly as you warned. Never has there been such a disaster as happened in Jerusalem. 13 Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the Lord our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth. 14 Therefore, the Lord has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The Lord our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him.
15 “O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by rescuing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. But we have sinned and are full of wickedness. 16 In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.
17 “O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.
18 “O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.
19 “O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.”
Daniel 9:4-19 (NLT)