By Walter C. Kaiser Jr., adapted from I Will Lift My Eyes Unto the Hills: Learning from the Great Prayers of the Old Testament
In Daniel 9:1–27, we are told that Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem three times daily in order to pray to God (Dan 6:10). And we have no reason to doubt that just as often he opened the Scriptures to know the will of God, for it was from his understanding of “the word of the Lord given [earlier] to Jeremiah the prophet” (Dan 9:2) that he knew how to pray. Daniel may have carried a scroll of the prophet Jeremiah with him from his homeland, or he used one that was in the possession of the exiles. This high regard for the Scriptures is likewise very evident when we hear Daniel praying, for he does so in a series of subtly woven quotations from what we today call the Old Testament.
Whereas previously in Israel the people had priests and prophets to assist them in worship, now in exile they were thrown almost exclusively on the written Word of God as they sought to worship him in a foreign land. In the view of some, this may have been one of the greatest results of the exile. As often happens in a situation such as this, when the people turned to the writings that had come to them as a result of a revelation from God, they also found that God drew nearer to them. This was because God himself had ordered that real and vital worship is most clearly linked with the study of and obedience to the Scriptures.
Ronald Wallace, in his commentary on Daniel, illustrates this point by citing the case of Dr. Martin Niemoller, who, during World War II, was convicted by the Nazis for his anti-Nazi sentiments on March 2, 1938, after languishing in a Berlin prison for eighteen months prior to his trial. Niemoller spoke of his great sense of loss when, with his conviction by the court, everything was taken from him, including his German Bible. He begged to have it restored, which finally was granted. His confession was that this book was the source of his strength and his comfort; in fact, it was what he needed most during his incarceration.
In a similar situation, Daniel poured over the books of Scripture and God breathed into him new life as he saw all over again what God had done for previous faithful believers such as Abraham, Moses, and Jeremiah. Daniel was moved by the same concerns, perplexities, and desire for the glory of God as his people had evidenced in the past. It was the Word of God that was their mainstay in life.
Daniel was a great man of prayer. This was the habit of his life. If we ask how he was able to rise so high in the government of his captors and achieve so much, we can trace his effectiveness to his life of prayer. The Lord may not guarantee us that we can achieve the kinds of things Daniel did, but he does promise us that our prayers too can have a profound effect on our lives and on the lives of others.
Read more about Daniel’s prayer in I Will Lift My Eyes Unto the Hills: Learning from the Great Prayers of the Old Testament by Walter C. Kaiser Jr., available now through Lexham Press.
The author’s views do not necessarily represent those of Faithlife. The headings and title of this post are the additions of the editor.