The church was in crisis. Because of their unfaithfulness to God, the people of Israel had been taken into Babylonian captivity for almost seventy years, as predicted by Jeremiah. Daniel’s life stretched over the entire seventy years of captivity, and he knew that the time period was about to come to an end. As recorded in Daniel chapter 8, he heard a time prophecy of 2,300 years and feared that the captivity would be extended beyond the seventy years. Daniel chapter 9 is his prayer to God for his church in crisis.
The longest prayer in the book of Daniel is on behalf of his church. Daniel’s prayer was an example of how we are to respond to a church in crisis.
- Daniel responded by praying for his church.
- Daniel’s attitude was not “me”; it was “we.”
- Daniel responded by reaffirming the necessity of heeding God’s prophets.
- Daniel responded with personal self-denial––fasting.
“I prayed to the Lord my God” (Dan. 9:4). Daniel did not slander the church in private conversations or in public discourses; he interceded in prayer to God on behalf of His beloved church.
“We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws” (Dan. 9:5, emphasis supplied). Daniel identified himself with the people of God; He did not dissociate himself from the church. Though a righteous man, he identified himself with the sins of the church. He did not take the position of superiority over his people (the church), but rather came from the posture of being with his people.
“We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name” (Dan. 9:6). Daniel’s prayer brought out that the solution to the church’s plight was to go back to following the Word of the Lord as given by God’s prophets. He acknowledged that the current condition of the people of God had come as a result of rejecting His prophets.
“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes” (Dan. 9:3, NIV). Daniel was all in on his prayer for the church, in that he was willing to practice personal self-denial in the form of fasting. Daniel was so fully invested in his burden for his church that it affected his physical life as well as his spiritual life.