And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel…
A believer might say to one who questioned the value of prayer, that God has authourised and commanded him to pray, with the express promise that the prayer of faith, offered up in the name of Christ, shall be heard and answered, and that he can safely leave it with God himself to provide fur the fulfilment of His promise, in perfect consistency with the immutability of His counsels. He is warranted also to maintain that prayer is most deeply concerned in the determination of all the purposes of Cod concerning His people; that every believing supplication that has been, or ever will be offered up, was as much the subject of the Divine foreknowledge as any ether action or event that was to take place in the moral world. The event for which Daniel had been praying, namely, the restoration of their captive brethren to their country and their privileges, had been the subject of many a prediction variously expressed, and of special promises frequently repeated . Every circumstance conspired to give him the assurance that the event which he longed for was infallibly secured. Yet he gave himself to prayer, obviously with the conviction that, in order to give efficiency to all the subordinate causes that were conspiring to bring about that deliverance of Judah, there was required an immediate determination of the Divine mind — an act of the will of Him who "speaks and it is done; who commandeth and all things stand fast." The prayer of the prophet formed an essential part of the plan by which God was graciously pleased to carry His purposes into execution. There was, indeed, suspended on it, so to speak, that act of the Divine will that was to give efficiency to every other agency whereby the desired event was to be brought about. Did we conceive of it as we ought to do — did we know what it is that constitutes the honour, and dignity, and blessedness of our nature, there is nothing in which we should consider ourselves more highly honoured, or more richly privileged, than in being permitted and encouraged to pray. Of the truths of these remarks, we have a very striking and instructive illustration in the passage before us. Of none was it ever more true than of Daniel, that the "effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Yet, notwithstanding the honourable and distinguished place which had been assigned to Daniel among the servants of God, never did a soul breath its desires under a deeper sense of its own unworthiness than when he "set his face unto the Lord God." And does not the experience of believers still bear witness to the same truth? Such is the honour which God vouchsafes to put upon His people when He gives them permission to pray; and such is the tendency of that honour to generate a spirit of humility and dependence on the part of those who enjoy it. Whether, therefore, we view prayer as glorifying God, by recognising His supremacy, and resolving our will into His; or whether we regard it as bringing us into that state which is the most salutary for ourselves, we are not without abundant encouragement to avail ourselves of this distinguished privilege. Our text furnishes other considerations calculated to excite us to frequent and earnest and persevering prayer. But the point to which I specially direct attention is the fact here stated by the angel, that at the beginning of Daniel's supplication the commandment went forth, a fact which places in a very striking light the important place which the prayer of the prophet occupied, among the various means which God was pleased to employ, in effecting the deliverance of Judah. In as far as concerns the condescension of God, and the encouragement which He has given us to pray, our text virtually tells us that the blessing was in readiness — that it waited, so to speak, only to be applied for — and that its actual communication was suspended on the supplication of the prophet Nor was this a privilege confined to particular individuals as Daniel, or to special times like those in which he lived. It appears, from the whole tenor of the preceding context, that the immediate object of the prophet's anxiety and concern was the redemption of his brethren from the bondage of Babylon; that he felt aa if it were possible that there might still attach to them so much of their former impenitence and forgetfulness of God as would provoke Him to protract the period of their captivity; and that it would have been, in the prophet's own estimation, a full and satisfying answer to his prayer had he simply received the assurance that God's "thoughts toward Judah were still thoughts of peace." But how exceedingly abundant, above all that he asked or had conceived, was the communication which was made to him in answer to his prayer! We cannot suppose that when he "set his face unto the Lord God" he anticipated the extent of the answer which was vouchsafed to him. If such, then, be the encouragements whereby we are excited to prayer, how shall we think, without humiliation and shame, of the disinclination which we may frequently have felt towards engaging in that holy exercise, and of the formality with which we have so often observed it? The habit of mind — preparedness for prayer — will not be cultivated from a mere sense of duty alone. Prayer is in truth the protection, the safeguard, of the Christian.
(R. Gordon, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;