In the beginning of Daniel 9, Daniel is reading the book of Jeremiah regarding the captivity. Jeremiah’s prophecy speaks about the exile of Israel in Jeremiah 25:11-12 and also in 29:10. Daniel studied and understood these prophecies very well. He knew that there was a set time for the captivity of Israel and that time was quickly coming to and end.
This prophecy motivated Daniel to prayer because he understood that the time for the end of the captivity was very near and he prayed to the Lord in order to know God’s plan for Israel once the captivity was over. But even more than this, Daniel understood that the real reason for the captivity of Israel was that they might once again turn back to God and restore the sacred relationship and rituals that God had asked them to put and keep in place as far back as the time of Moses. They had forsaken those things and the captivity was meant as a reminder to Israel to put them back in place. The prayer that Daniel prays is quite the example to us, and next to the Lord’s prayer, there is no better example for us as to how to pray and to seek the face of the Lord when we are burdened.
It is interesting to note that the prophecy did more than just motivate Daniel to pray, however. It also motivated him to act and speak to Cyrus about allowing the people to return to the land from exile. Daniel’s understanding of the OT Scriptures compelled him not only to pray but to act. He went to Cyrus (whom God refers to as His anointed in Isaiah 44) and influenced the decree to allow Israel to return to the land. I believe that Cyrus’ permission was given for two reasons. First, because of their ability to empathize with Israel as captives and second, because God had sovereignly put Cyrus on the throne as His choice servant to make the decision to let Israel return.
I can’t help but draw out some applications to my own life. First, God is always in control and is sovereignly working behind the scenes to accomplish His perfect plan for our lives. What a privilege to trust Him to accomplish His plan. Second, we have promises from God in His Word still today. These promises must motivate us to pray but also to act because right action reveals strong faith.