Daniel 9:3 - So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.
I love this verse because it give the basis for the great prayer of Daniel in chapter 9. The first thing we see is where Daniel’s attention goes. Where does Daniel’s attention go? Does it go on the people? Does it go on himself? It does not go to either place but it goes on God, right where it needs to be – on God. Many times I believe that we have unanswered prayers because we only talking to each other or to ourselves in prayer and we are not putting our attention on God. God is the only one who can answer prayer and He is where our attention needs to be.
What we see with this word attention that it implies determination in prayer. Daniel had an objective to achieve in prayer, and he approached God as a man who would not be denied. He did this because he was rightly convinced that his prayer was in the will of God, and knew it was not motivated by any selfish desire. How often do you check your motivations and desires in prayer? How about in general in life? I urge you today to have a gut check on your motivations and desires in prayer and in life.
We see here with the word supplication that Daniel wasn’t passive as God’s prophetic plan unfolded before him. In his approach to God, he made a request, asking God to perform His promise in the way that Daniel thought would bring God the most glory. Again, this was all about God and not about him or what he wanted.
Then we see this in the verse, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I posted a lot about fasting last year and we learned that we do not impress God with fasting and that is not the intent of it. It was a practical way for Daniel to spend more time in prayer but also this reflects Daniel’s humble heart in approaching God. Fasting, sackcloth, and ashes are emblems of humiliation and mourning. They show the proper perspective when coming before God- that is with a humble heart. Having the right heart is an important part of an effective prayer life. The opposite of humble is selfish – selfish prayers are powerless and humble prayers are powerful – which prayers do you pray?
To sum up: a strong base in prayer comes from having our attention directly on God. It comes from determination and pure motives. A strong base comes in a focus on God and away from us. It comes from having a humble heart and proper perspective.
Daniel’s great prayer of confession is built upon these truths as we see in this verse. We need to make sure we have a strong base when it comes to our prayer lives.
So what do you think? Do these things constitute a strong base for prayer?