3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. 7 O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day — to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
8 “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day — we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. 17 Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. 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 do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
The thing about Daniel that I appreciate most is his devotion to God and to a pure life. From his youth he “made up his mind that he would not defile himself” (Dan. 1:8). He also had a practice of praying on his knees three times a day (6:10); and much of his praying was with fasting (9:3; 10:3). If we are to stand in the gap for others this must also be our manner of life and devotion. We must lose ourselves for God and for others.
Here are five things we may learn about intercession from Daniel’s prayer:
1. An intercessor has a life of devotion to God.
2. An intercessor must associate himself with the sins of the ones he is interceding for. When Daniel prayed for the people of Israel he counted himself as one who was guilty. And so, instead of praying, “Lord, they have sinned”, he prayed, “Lord we have sinned.” So if we are to be a true intercessor, we, as Daniel, should not position ourselves above those we are praying for, but we should humble ourselves, remembering that “there is none righteous, not even one” (Rom. 3:10). If anybody was found righteous in the entire Bible it would have been Daniel. But he knew that he was a sinner just like all other men, and so he put himself in the same boat with them. This is the first point of our association with the sinner as we intercede.
But there is another point of our association with the sins of others. An intercessor not only associates with the sins of others in terms of mutual sin—such as, you’re a sinner and I’m a sinner too—but he in fact makes their sin his sin. And so, just as with Daniel, if we are truly interceding for others, we will feel as if their sin is ours, and we will feel the pain of that sin. Now, we won’t in reality come to believe that their sin is actually ours, but in our identification with them and their sin we will become so burdened down with their sin that we will actually feel the same burden and sorrow over the sin as they feel, and also, even more, as Christ feels. For we as believers mystically share in the sufferings of Christ for sin; Paul called it the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil. 3:10).
3. An intercessor must have a correct view of God. As we address God we must give Him His due adoration. Observe how Daniel viewed God from the following verses of Daniel 9.
Verse 4 – “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy…”
Verse 7 – “O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face…”
Verse 9 – “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness…”
Verse 14 – “The Lord our God is righteous in all the works which he does…”
4. An intercessor bases his requests not on his own merits or on the merits of the one he is interceding for, but on God’s compassion (v. 18). This is evident in this prayer by the amount of time that is spent on praising God and confessing sins. No time at all is spent on bragging to God about good deeds, etc. If anyone could boast about his merits it would be Daniel, but he instead humbled himself in recognition that only God is truly righteous.
5. Intercession must be only for God’s glory and for His name (v. 19). If one has a desire to be healed, if there is deliverance that is sought, if there is even a soul to be saved, it must be for the glory of God and not for personal gain or recognition.