Daniel 9 is one of the most amazing and significant prophetic passages in the Bible, and it begins with Daniel’s understanding and application of prophecy. “I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years”. Daniel understood something from reading the words of God’s prophets. Prophecy is meant to be understood – perhaps not in every detail, but certainly in its main points. Daniel understood this by the books – the specific words recorded in God-inspired books.
How did he accomplish that? He dug into the Word of God and read what those prophets who came before him had written. “I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes”. He practiced the spiritual disciplines and sought understanding from God himself. This wasn’t about him being smarter than anyone else. This is all about his focus. Daniel shows determination in prayer. He had a goal to reach understanding through prayer, and he approached God as a man who would not be denied.
Daniel shows us how to seek God. “I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules”. It starts with confession and the acknowledgement that God is God and Daniel is not. Then comes the reason we usually miss the point. “We have not listened to your servants the prophets”. We don’t spend enough time in God’s Word seeking and listening to His voice.
Daniel then seeks God from the position we all are in – lowly people that are unworthy of His grace and mercy. “Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate”. We have no claim to the blessings God pours out on us. We have no right to His grace and mercy. But His love makes all those things ours if we’ll only walk with Him in obedience and love. Daniel shows us how to put God first and seek His face. That’s the secret to a vibrant spiritual life.