I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the LORD, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and fasting…. Daniel 9:2 (NLT)
When Daniel entered his war room of prayer, how did he pray? Chronologically, Daniel 9 fits in the same time period as Daniel 6. In chapter six, we discover Daniel had a war room of prayer in his own home where he knelt down in an upstairs room and prayed three times a day with his windows opened toward Jerusalem. He had been deported to Babylon, as a young man, along with many nobles and leading officials from Jerusalem. Though in exile, God had a special purpose for Daniel. He would become mighty in spirit and stand alone in his faith despite the pagan culture of his day or the threats against him. Daniel fought the good fight of faith from his knees in his war room of prayer. In chapter nine, we gain insight into Daniel’s war room prayer. These brief 19 verses provide a model for intercessory prayer that changed the destiny of a nation. If you read the prayer, you’ll discover some outstanding characteristics that make this prayer so powerful and effective.
- He prayed according to God’s Word.
Now a man in his 80’s, Daniel remained a student of God’s Word. He never quit learning and growing. In verse two he says,
I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the LORD, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years.
Jeremiah had been prophesying from Jerusalem before, and during, Daniel’s time period in Babylon. God had told Jeremiah about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the exiles. In Jeremiah 29:10-14, God led His prophet to write a letter to those exiles to give them hope and understanding. In the letter, he said,
This is what the LORD says, “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you”’ says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.
When Daniel read these words and checked his calendar, he realized the time was at hand for God to fulfill His word. The seventy years of captivity were coming to an end.
“So I turned to the Lord God,” Daniel said, “and pleaded with Him in prayer and fasting.” Daniel 9:2 (NLT)
When you pray, do you pray according to God’s Word? Praying according to God’s promises is like speaking to the King in the King’s own language. It’s affirming our trust in God’s Word and asking Him to do what He said He would do – and what only He can do! It’s putting our confidence in His ability and trusting in His power.
- As he prayed, he fasted.
Daniel’s prayer was so intense that he tells us he wore rough burlap, sprinkled ashes on himself, and fasted. These were all outward signs of the intensity of his heart. Deeply burdened for his people and convicted by the sins that had resulted in their devastating captivity, Daniel pours out his heart to God on behalf of his people, so consumed by his request that he denies himself any comfort or food.
- He prayed with humble confession.
If you read Daniel’s prayer, you’ll be struck with the number of times he includes himself in the confession of sins on behalf of the nation, despite the fact that he didn’t commit those sins personally. He was nationally identified with a people that had departed from God and was suffering the consequences of His judgment. Israel had failed to be the witness nation that God had called them to be. Daniel personally assumed the guilt by association and, rather than being self-righteous or judgmental, he identifies with them as he confesses sin and prays for mercy. When you’ve been hurt by the sins of others, it’s so easy to pass judgment on them, especially when they are suffering. The Bible says,
We’ve all sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, no not one.
Daniel never had a “better than thou” attitude.
- He asked for mercy.
In a day of judgment, you should never pray for justice. You should ask God for mercy. Daniel prayed,
We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of Your mercy. Daniel 9:18 (NLT)
- He prayed for the honor of God’s Holy Name.
Daniel’s appeal had more to do with the reputation of God than it did the restoration of the nation. He knew that they were called to be a witness nation that should reflect God’s name.
O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary… 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 9:17, 19 (NLT)
Daniel’s war room prayer is a challenge for us to pray today on behalf of our great nation. As you set up your war room of prayer, consider the challenge of Daniel’s prayer and pray for spiritual awakening and revival today.