A Prayer Worth Praying
"So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes." -- Daniel 9:3 --
The year was 539 B.C.
The Medes and the Persians killed the Chaldean king, Belshazzar. "Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two" (Daniel 5:30-31). The exile of God's chosen people in Babylon for seventy years have come to an end.
A young teenager named Daniel was taken from his home in Judah into captivity in ancient Babylon seventy years earlier. He was one of the "youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court" (Daniel 1:4). These young people were to be educated for three years in the literature and language of their captors, the Chaldeans. Upon completion of their training, these young men would be able to "enter the king's personal service" (Daniel 1:5).
But why did Daniel find himself in this position in the first place? The book of 2nd Chronicles summarizes the reason why God used the Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzar, to take His people into captivity for seventy years:
2nd Chronicles 36:11–16
11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
12 He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the LORD.
13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear allegiance by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel.
14 Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful following all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem.
15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;
16 but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.
>> Their king, Zedekiah, did evil in the sight of the Lord. He chose to disobey the words spoken by the prophet Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 31:3-7). In Jeremiah 25:9 and 27:6, God calls Nebuchadnezzar "My servant." God issues this warning: "It will be, that the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine and with pestilence,” declares the LORD, “until I have destroyed it by his hand" (Jeremiah 27:8).
>> Zedekiah not only rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, he turned against the Lord God of Israel.
>> The officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful to the Lord God. They followed the "abominations of the nations." Jeremiah 7:9-10 records that they offered sacrifices to Baal and walked after other gods. In doing so they defiled the house of the Lord. They also mocked the messengers and prophets that God sent them because He had compassion on His people and His dwelling place, the sanctuary in Jerusalem.
After there was no other remedy that would cause His people to repent of their many transgressions against the Lord God, He "brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete" (2nd Chronicles 36:17-21).
Daniel's Prayer - Daniel 9:4–19
4 "I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,
5 we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances.
6 “Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.
7 “Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You.
8 “Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
9 “To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him;
10 nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets.
11 “Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him.
12 “Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem.
13 “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth.
14 “Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.
15 “And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have been wicked.
16 “O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us.
17 “So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary.
18 “O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion.
19 “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
We see two major contrasts in this heartfelt prayer:
>> God's compassion, forgiveness, greatness, lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness.
>> Humankind's utter sinfulness and rejection of God.
Daniel confessed the sins of his people, even though he was not involved in the unfaithful deeds that the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel committed against God. He too was taken into captivity even though he did nothing wrong. As you read through the first six chapters on Daniel, you will find that he was obedient to the Chaldean kings and later, the Median king, who he served. At the same time he was faithful to the Lord God, never once compromising his faith or rejecting Him in order to find favor with those he served.
Fortunately for those in captivity, God limited the time of their exile to seventy years. Daniel "observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years" (Daniel 9:2). He more than likely read Jeremiah 25:11-12 - “This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will be when seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.” Additionally, Daniel read Jeremiah 29:10 - “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.”
God promised that He will bring His people back to their land when seventy years of captivity are completed. God keeps His covenants and promises regardless how sinfully wicked we are!
In 539 B.C. Cyrus, king of Persia, issued the following proclamation as recorded in Ezra 1:1–4:
1 "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying:
2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3 ‘Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.
4 ‘Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.’”
Israel is God's chosen people. Many have cited this passage from 2nd Chronicles 7:14 - "and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." However, "My people" is in reference to "Israel" (2nd Chronicles 7:10). God is under no obligation to heal our land, the United States of America. However the application of this scripture is the same. As a nation, we need to humble ourselves, repent of our wickedness and rejection of God, and turn to Him alone for forgiveness and reconciliation. This starts with the household of God - those of us who belong to Him.
Our transgressions as a nation include:
Compromising absolute truth from God's word for the sake of unity and political correctness.
Removing God from our schools.
The intentional murder of millions of the unborn under the flag of a woman's right to choose.
The rejection of laws that provide life saving medical attention to infants who survive abortions.
Open acceptance of gay marriage.
Adoption of transgenderism including performing "gender reassignment" medical procedures on young children.
Teaching our young people that some races of people are evil (i.e. Critical Race Theory).
Educating children on how to perform perverse sexual acts.
We are a nation in complete moral decline and under God's judgment! Romans 1:18-32 paints a clear picture of what happens to people who continually reject God to the point when God gives them over to degrading passions - women exchanging the natural function for that which is unnatural, and men abandoning the natural function of the woman and burning in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts (Romans 1:26-27). As a result of their continued rejection of God, He gives them over to depraved minds (Romans 1:28) - minds that are filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. Minds that hate God and are without understanding. Those with depraved minds are insolent, arrogant, boastful, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful (Romans 1:29-31). They heartily approve of the ungodly practices performed by others (Romans 1:32).
There is only one way out of this but its going to take every Bible believing born again Christian to get on their knees and pray!
"The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16).
My Prayer on behalf of the United States of America
You, O Lord, are the One and Only God and Savior! How majestic is Your name in heaven and on the earth. You stepped out of eternity and took on human flesh for the purpose of paying for our sins on a cruel Roman cross. You rose from the dead on the third day! O Lord, righteous Savior, you alone our worthy of our full praise.
My country has sinned against You. We have forgotten You and committed abominable acts deserving of Your righteous judgments.
Lord, you have not only given us Your living Word, Jesus Christ, you have also given us Your written infallible and inerrant Word. Your Word is absolute truth. Yet many churches have compromised your Word for the sake of unity and political correctness. Some denominations allow women to serve as pastors and elders - it is clear from Your Word that these roles are reserved for qualified men only. Others are performing marriages between two men or two women - this is an abomination!
We stand before You guilty of the intentional murder of millions of the unborn, all under the flag of a women's right to choose. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding a pregnancy, it is You, O Lord, who creates new life in the womb starting at the moment of conception.
Lord, we have acted wickedly by allowing men to become women, and women to become men. Even worse, our depravity has sunk to levels never even considered a few years ago - performing "gender reassignment" medical procedures on young children! This goes far beyond an abomination! It is pure evil and a heinous crime against Your little ones.
Father God, nothing in all creation is hidden from Your sight. You know the wickedness that has and continues to occur in my country. We are doomed, and deservedly so. But yet, Lord, You are compassionate and patient. Your Word teaches us that this present earth is being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly - those who reject you, whose minds are depraved, who commit abominations against You. Your Word also teaches us that You are patient, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance.
O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Have compassion on our country, but not for our sake - we don't deserve it - but for Your sake so that You will be glorified. Forgive those who hate You - they do not know what they are doing. Lord - put it on the hearts of the wicked to repent of their sins so that we can once again say, with deep conviction:
"God Bless the United States of America!"
Unless otherwise noted, all scripture cited in this post is taken from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update.