By Ronny Milliner
Daniel was such a righteous man that his enemies were forced to conclude, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God” (Dan. 6:12). Verse 10 of chapter six shows the place of prayer in the life of Daniel. He prayed with his windows open toward Jerusalem for to the Jew this city symbolized the presence of God. Recall the words of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple (1 Kgs. 8:28-30). He said, “Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, 0 Jehovah my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel. When they pray toward this place, then hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.” Even though the Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians, Daniel continued to pray toward it. He knelt down on his knees (showing his reverence) and prayed continually three times a day.
The last part of verse ten says such “was his custom since early days.” No wonder we see the great courage of Daniel as a teenager who “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank” (Dan. 1: 8). Certainly Daniel was one who had remembered his Creator in the days of his youth (Eccl. 12:1).
Let us notice some of the conditions under which Daniel prayed.
In Times of Severity
Nebuchadnezzar had decreed the death of all the wise men of Babylon (Dan. 2:13-18). Upon learning the reason for the capital sentence, Daniel knew where to go for help. He gathered his friends to “seek mercies from the God of heaven.”
In times of difficulty we too need to have our windows opened toward Jerusalem. God has promised to care for us. In Psalms 50:15, He said, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. ” The Hebrew writer reminds us, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'” (Heb. 13:5b-6) In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 the apostle Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
We should turn to God in time of need. James advises, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (Jas. 5:13a). We should be encouraged by the words of Hebrews 4:16 which says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Prayer is the cure for our anxieties. According to Jesus, in Matthew 6:25-34, worry is useless. The apostle exhorts in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” In similar fashion I Peter 5:7 says, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” When faced with great difficulties and trials in our lives let us open our windows toward Jerusalem.
In Times of Splendor
Daniel blesses, praises, and thanks God for his answer to the prayer of him and his three friends (Dan. 2:19-23). He prays, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, . I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers.”
We too should be praising and thanking God in our prayers. Such was a characteristic of the early church. Acts 2:47a relates how they were “praising God and having favor with all the people.” The Hebrew writer exhorts, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15). And consider also Colossians 3:15. It says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” May we never get to the point where we are always asking of God, but never thanking him for His blessings.
The Gentiles were unthankful. Paul describes them in Romans 1:21 by saying, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Note the number of times that thanksgiving is associated with our supplications to God. 1 Timothy 2:1 says, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” Colossians 4:2 beseeches us to “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” Finally, 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 reads, “Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
In Times of Sin
In Daniel 9:1-20 we find Daniel praying both for his own sins as well as the sins of his people. He confessed, “We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.” He sought God’s forgiveness when he prayed, “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all who are around us.”
First, let us be reminded that this blessing is given to a penitent child of God. The alien sinner is not a child of God, thus he doesn’t have the right to call upon God as Father (cf. Gal. 4:6). There are other requirements for the alien to be forgiven of his sins. He must believe the gospel, repent of his sins, confess his faith in Jesus as the Christ, and be baptized (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9; Acts 22:16).
Consider God’s attitude toward the prayers of one who is not willing to listen to him. The healed blind man of John 9 said, “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will, He hears him” (Jn. 9:31). Proverbs 28:9 warns that, “One who turns away his car from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.” In like fashion Peter says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And his ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Pet. 3:12).
As Christians we should repent and confess our sins, asking God for his forgiveness. These conditions were given to Simon the sorcerer when he sinned after his baptism (Acts 8:22). 1 John 1:9 adds, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We should also intercede and pray for our brethren who sin. “Confess your treaspasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much,” says James in chapter 5 and verse 16 of his letter. In helping each other on the road to Heaven we “will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:19-20).
“Ere you left your room this morning, Did you think to pray? In the name of Christ, our Savior, Did you sue for loving favor, as a shield today? . . . Don’t forget to pray.”
Since we all have times of severity, splendor, and sin, we too need to keep our windows opened toward Jerusalem.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 9, pp. 268-269
May 2, 1991