Listen, my God, and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city called by Your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion. - Daniel 9:18
Daniel’s prayer here is one of the most powerful prayers in the Old Testament. This verse in particular highlights our reason for crying out to God in prayer and the basis on which we make our requests.
1. Why did Daniel pray?
Daniel wanted to see transformation of a desolate city into a city which was worthy of being called by God’s name; transformation from disaster to glory. He knew and understood that the Name of the Lord deserved glory and honour. He saw how far from this the city had fallen because of the sin of the people which had led to their ruin. The primary concern of Daniel was the honour of God’s name.
So why do we pray? We can model our prayers on the motives of Daniel’s prayer – that God’s name would be glorified. Each week at pre-service prayer we pray “God, let your Kingdom come”. We are seeking transformation from a land of desolation to one where we see a glimpse of the glory of God. Like Daniel, we can ask God to open His eyes to the pain and darkness in our world. We can trust that God hears and sees the desolation in this world, which can bring great comfort in itself. We can then seek change and ask God to intervene so that He would be glorified.
Where do we see aspects of desolation in our city or our nation? How do we want God to act to transform these things for the glory of His Name?
2. On what basis does Daniel pray?
Daniel realises that he can only present these petitions before God because of his mercy. He is aware of Israel’s sin and that they do not deserve help, but he is even more aware of God’s faithfulness. Power in prayer comes from our confidence in God’s goodness rather than our own goodness; self-confident prayers are powerless. This Old Testament passage was written before God gave us His greatest act of mercy in sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ. Daniel knew that God was a merciful God and prayed in trust of this, but we can have an even greater grasp of God’s compassion and mercy when we pray in the name of Jesus. We cannot, and do not need to, make petitions to God based on our own acts or righteousness, but know that we can be fully reliant on God’s compassion through His forgiveness and mercy.
Are there times when you expect God to act based on your own good deeds or efforts? Is there self-reliance you need to repent of and humbly accept God’s compassion?
Praise God that His answers to our prayers aren’t based on what we deserve, but on His faithfulness!