“18 Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the city that bears your name. We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great compassion.
“19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people bear your name!”
Daniel was a Man of Prayer
Back in the 1970s, in Sunday School, we had a board and Flannelgraph characters which we stuck to the felt scene as the story unfolded. When we told stories about Daniel, we had to keep the felt picture of “Daniel praying” to one side, because we knew it would keep coming back! He prayed lots of times! But this wasn’t just a children’s story, or a children’s chorus, like this one….. Daniel was real – his prayer, recorded in today’s reading, changed the course of Jewish history.
Back in the 1970s, in Sunday School, we had a board and Flannelgraph characters which we stuck to the felt scene as the story unfolded. When we told stories about Daniel, we had to keep the felt picture of “Daniel praying” to one side, because we knew it would keep coming back! He prayed lots of times! But this wasn’t just a children’s story, or a children’s chorus, like this one. Daniel was real – his prayer, recorded in today’s reading, changed the course of Jewish history.
Daniel, in Faith, with Utter Simplicity asks the LORD to Intervene
Daniel, was probably only a teenager when the Babylonians snatched him away to work for their government. By the time of this prayer, the Babylonian Empire had been replaced by the Persian Empire. It’s about 540BC, and Daniel is an old man. He remembered that Jeremiah had said the Jewish exile would last for 70 years. So he prays two things, that the Jews will be allowed to return home and Jerusalem will be rebuilt.
In 538BC, Cyrus the Persian Emperor put out a formal edict saying that the Jews could return to their homeland; anything precious taken from the Temple by the Babylonians would be restored, and the city of Jerusalem could be rebuilt! …..Cyrus actually helped to fund the rebuilding!
This is the original Cyrus Cylinder, where the Emperor’s words were recorded. It is the answer to Daniel’s prayer. It’s in cuneiform script (notched letters) and it’s in an ancient diplomatic language called Akkadian. It now lives in the British Museum!
Prayer, the Basis of All the Lord wants to do
“When I came to a town to start revival, a lady contacted me. She said, ‘Brother Finney, do you know a Mr. Daniel Nash and a Mr. Abel Clary? They have been staying with me for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten anything, so I looked in and saw them flat on the floor. They have been lying like that for three days. I thought something terrible must have happened, but I was afraid to go in and didn’t know what to do. Could you please come and see if they are all right?’
“No, that’s unnecessary,” I said. “They are only calling on the Lord in prayer.”
It was Christmas, 1859, and this was a conversation between Revd. Charles Finney and a landlady. She was from Bolton, and had given accommodation to his assistants, Daniel and Abel, in her cellar. Finney was an American evangelist – a bit like Billy Graham. He was a very sincere Christian, incredibly intelligent, and a superb preacher who radiated charisma. Thousands became Christians in the USA and many other countries through his ministry. Amazingly, he reckoned all success to prayer alone. Wherever he went he took Nash and Clary with him. They always concealed themselves and prayed constantly throughout the time of the mission.
Daniel’s God – the Prayer Answering God, the Ancient of Days
Daniel had a special name for the LORD. It only occurs in the Book of Daniel. He calls God, the Ancient of Days.
In all the hard years Daniel spent in exile, separated from his homeland, his language, his culture, even his food – practically his whole life – He found the LORD to be completely faithful and reliable. The name, Ancient of Days is bursting with Daniel’s experience of God. For him, the LORD is the ultimate in wisdom, unsurpassable in might and yet overflowing with compassion. In our reading, Daniel says that God doesn’t answer prayer because we are righteous, and have credit with Him, but only because He is full of compassion. He loves us, and longs to hear us pray and set our trust in Him.
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…..”
Amen, Lord, help us to overcome our sense of unworthiness and teach us to pray.