"I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes" (Dan. 9:3).
The more you understand God’s holiness, the more you’ll recognize your own sinfulness.
People view prayer differently. For some it is a last resort after all human options have been exhausted: "All I can do now is pray for you!" Others liken it to a spiritual spare tire—something used only in the event of an emergency. Many who should thrive on prayer have been lulled into complacency by an affluent and godless society.
Daniel, however, saw prayer as an opportunity to express the passion and fervency of his heart to the God he loved and served. In Daniel 9:3 he says, "I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him." That implies he set apart a specific time to devote to thoughtful, earnest, and fervent prayer. That is further supported by the way he prepared himself through fasting and donning sackcloth and ashes—symbols of humility and deep contrition over sin.
It might seem unusual for a man of Daniel's spiritual stature to be overwhelmed by his sense of sin, but the closer one draws to God, the more aware he is of his sinfulness. We see that in Paul, who called himself the foremost of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). That might seem like a ridiculous statement to us but Paul saw sin for what it was. So did Daniel.
The title "Lord God" in verse 3 emphasizes God's sovereign rule over all things. Daniel knew that God had permitted the Babylonian Captivity and that He alone could deliver His people from it. Consequently, Daniel gave the Lord his undivided attention as he prayed and sought mercy for himself and his people.
Daniel's fervency is a rebuke to much of the flippancy we hear in prayer today. It was profound because it was generated by God's Word and grounded in His will.
James 5:16 says, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (KJV). Be like Daniel—a righteous person who prays fervently with great effect.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Ask God to give you a greater sense of fervency in prayer.
- Be sensitive to any sin that might be hindering your prayers.
For Further Study
Read Luke 11:5-13.
- What parable did Jesus tell to illustrate the benefits of humble, persistent prayer?
- How did Jesus contrast earthly fathers with their heavenly Father?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.