Daniel and the power of prayer
I have just been re-reading the book of Daniel in preparation for teaching it at Cornhill, and I was struck afresh by the response Daniel is given to his prayer of national confession in chapter 9. While he was still praying, Gabriel came to him and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision’ (Dan. 9:22-23 ESV). Gabriel then proceeds to tell Daniel of God’s plans to answer his prayer and restore Jerusalem.
The term ‘apocalypse’ means an ‘unveiling’, and as an apocalyptic work, the book of Daniel gives us insight into presently unseen spiritual realities that stand behind human history. Very often these insights relate to wider geopolitical matters, but here in Daniel 9:22-23 we are given insight into what happens in heaven when Daniel prays. At the beginning of Daniel’s pleas – before Daniel has even had a chance to say all that he had to say – the Lord takes swift action and sends his response. And we’re told why the Lord responds swiftly: because Daniel is greatly loved.
All this must have come as a huge encouragement to Daniel, living in dark days in a foreign land. He may well have wondered if the Lord still heard his prayers and was still powerful to act. What an encouragement for Daniel to be given this insight into the very workings of the heavenly throne room – and to have this assurance that his prayers are heard and answered by the all-powerful God who loves him greatly. And what an encouragement for us too.