By Caleb Faires
We’re always in a battle. It isn’t really a fight against circumstances or people, but against powers, principalities, and spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12). We certainly see the battle raging around us in the actions of men and nations, but it also rages in our own hearts.
When Daniel read from Jeremiah 25, he didn’t forget for a moment this very biblical principle: prayer is the proper act in all times and circumstances. The particular fulfillment Daniel anticipated was one of great joy, the deliverance of Jerusalem. It would seem like the time to jump up and down and celebrate. It would be easy to be forgetful, to reflect only on the coming relief from exile, and forget that his chief call was to fix his eyes not on circumstance, but on God.
Daniel’s prayer reveals much of what he believes about God, and it reveals how we, too, can walk with God in all circumstances (Daniel 9:18–19). With the promise of restoration at hand, Daniel focuses on God’s righteousness, remembering that the initial captivity of God’s people was due to His judgment against their sin and idolatry. Recognizing the people’s rebellious and forgetful nature, and not presuming God’s mercies, Daniel prays before his holy God, “Lord, righteousness belongs to you” (v.7). It’s a prayer that offers us clear principles for how we can approach the Lord and His instruction.
First, God’s faithfulness doesn’t eliminate our need for prayers, but galvanizes it. In the face of blessing, the natural inclination of the human heart is self-congratulation. We like to take credit for the good stuff (but not the bad), and tell ourselves, “I must have done something good to deserve this.” But Daniel reminds us that every good gift is from God (James 1:17) and depends wholly upon His grace. Therefore, blessing should humble us.
Second, prayer fixes our thoughts on God, rather than the world. Worry, fear, materialism, and selfishness all grow dim in the light of Christ. Our petitions are first and foremost to be for His glory as we seek first the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 6:33), just as Daniel petitions God to act for the sake of His own glory.
Third, prayer recognizes both God’s goodness and greatness. Because of His goodness, we are called by His name and enjoy the security and joy of salvation. Because of His grace, we can approach Him with confidence that He hears all our petitions and confessions. Because of His greatness, we know He has the power and authority to answer.
And He does answer! God responds to Daniel not only with the assurance of Jerusalem’s restoration, but with the promise of “the Anointed One” who will satisfy the need for offerings and sacrifices and judge the destruction of the destroyer (Daniel 9:25–27). Once dead in our sin, we are now made alive in Christ Jesus. It is by grace that we have been saved, which means that the righteousness of our Lord is now our righteousness as well (Ephesians 2:1,5; Daniel 9:7).
Written by Caleb Faires