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  • Chad Werkhoven

Daniel 9:1-19 - Praying For Promises

Learn how to make big asks in short prayers.

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Read Daniel 9:1-19

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Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 117

Q. How does God want us to pray

so that he will listen to us?

A. First, we must pray from the heart

to no other than the one true God,

who has revealed himself in his Word,

asking for everything he has

commanded us to ask for.

Second, we must acknowledge our

need and misery,

hiding nothing,

and humble ourselves

in his majestic presence.

Third, we must rest on this

unshakable foundation:

even though we do not deserve it,

God will surely listen to our prayer

because of Christ our Lord.

That is what he promised us in his Word.



Yesterday we saw that Daniel, who was facing execution along with the rest of Babylon's 'wise men,' prayed a model prayer thanking God for giving him wisdom enabling him to interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream. What we noticed was that although Daniel's prayer was relatively short, the bulk of it was spent acknowledging who God is.

Today we meet up again with Daniel, who is now in the service of a much different king named Darius, as one of the top three governors over the Babylonian kingdom. Certainly such a position kept Daniel busy, but notice how he makes reading scripture and spending time in prayer his top priority. It's as he reads the prophet Jeremiah that Daniel sees the good news: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you... (Jeremiah 29:10-11)"

Daniel realized that the seventy years were up, and that the time had come for God to "fulfill His good promise to bring them back." Certainly it would have been appropriate for Daniel to pray a psalm of celebration, praising God for His faithfulness, but that's not what Daniel does here.

Rather, he puts on sackcloth and ashes, and prays a prayer of confession. What a lesson Daniel teaches! Even when we claim God's most rock solid promises - promises that are not conditioned upon our good behavior but are guaranteed by the very character of God Himself - we must make those claims humbly and with a healthy dose of contrition.

In other words, we must align ourselves with God's will.

Dig Deeper

Daniel is making a huge ask in this prayer: that God's people would be set free from one of the most powerful kingdoms in all of history. Two thing stand out about this prayer that can help you drastically improve your own prayer life, even if the things you're asking for are not as significant.

First, although this prayer is longer than the one we looked at yesterday, it still is relatively short, especially given the magnitude of what Daniel is praying for. One of the biggest lessons we need to learn about prayer is that our prayers do not need to be long, rather we need to be praying short prayers often throughout the day.

Second, although the context of this prayer indicates that Daniel is clearly praying for the freedom of his people, he never specifically asks God for that. In fact, throughout most of the prayer, he really doesn't ask for anything! It's not until v16 that his first petition is made, and that is that God will turn away His anger and wrath.

Daniel is assured of the promise God made to free His people after 70 years because Daniel knows he can trust God's Word, given long before through the prophet Jeremiah. Daniel makes the emphasis of his prayer acknowledging who God is (v4, 7, 9, 12, 15) and making sure that both he and his people are aligned with God's will.

So pray lots of short prayers today, reminding yourself who God is, what He's promised, and aligning yourself with His will by confessing your sin.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Lord, the great and awesome God. who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and keep His commandments (v4);

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Confess that you have sinned and done wrong in turning away from God's commands and laws (v5);

  • ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Lord, listen! Lord forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your people bear your Name (v19).


Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - John 18


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