Few writers can communicate the wonder of God’s Word as deeply as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Her love for Scripture is evident—and infectious. Nancy’s new book, Heaven Rules, is an invitation to open our Bibles and remember that God is personally, purposefully involved in all that’s taking place here on earth. What a joy to welcome Nancy to the farm’s table today…
By the time Babylonian King Darius came to power, Daniel had lived his whole long life in a place he would not have chosen if it had been up to him, dealing with horrific problems, answering to horrific rulers, maneuvering around horrific public policies, and witnessing horrific persecution against his friends and his people.
But “in the first year of Darius” (Dan. 9:1), instead of checking out, instead of retiring, instead of being too cynical and weary to try adjusting to another change, Daniel remained focused on those things that never change.
“While everyone else’s attention was turned toward the new administration, Daniel’s eyes were fixed on the Most High God and His kingdom.”
And how did he keep himself focused? For starters, he went to the Scriptures (Dan. 9:2). I love this.
While everyone else’s attention was turned toward the new administration, Daniel’s eyes were fixed on the Most High God and His kingdom. He was eager to know what God had to say about the days in which he was living.
But how could he know that? The same way we can know. Many of us get our knowledge of what’s going on in the world by listening to friends or watching cable news or reading social media posts.
But Daniel got his briefings and perspective by looking up—by reading the Word of God.
Think about the fact that Daniel was able to lay eyes on the same writings of Jeremiah that are right there in your Bible today.
Feel the connection of God’s people across millennia. Sit down with Daniel in the same room for a moment as he reads from passages we know today by their chapter numbers, places like Jeremiah 25 and 29, as the truth begins to dawn on him that God’s chosen people have not been forgotten but are living inside the fulfillment of these prophecies.
The passage Daniel read in Jeremiah spoke of how the captivity of the Jews—their removal from Jerusalem—would last for seventy years. By Daniel’s reckoning, this seventy-year period was nearing its end. The God who had orchestrated their exile according to His Word, was soon to orchestrate their return—again, according to His Word.
Daniel’s response? He prayed. His first reaction to God’s revealing this truth to him, to having his eyes opened to see heaven’s perspective on these current events, was to go to prayer (Dan. 9:3).
Prayer requires being willing to turn our attention away from whatever concerns may be pressing in on us, setting aside unnecessary distractions, turning our focus to the Lord.
Notice, too, that Daniel didn’t passively sit back and wait for God to fulfill His Word. (The Jewish exiles would in fact return to their homeland just a few years later.) Inspired by the promises of God, Daniel actively humbled himself and prayed.
“Those who praise first, before anything else, right-size their perspectives by getting themselves right-sized about the nature and character, the majesty and faithfulness, of God.”
He began with praise. “Ah, Lord—the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands . . .” (9:4). His focus was Godward. He exalted the covenant-keeping character of God. Those who praise first, before anything else, right-size their perspectives by getting themselves right-sized about the nature and character, the majesty and faithfulness, of God.
Daniel’s praise led to confession. When we see God’s greatness and grace, we see ourselves more clearly. Daniel’s worship led him to pray, “We have sinned” (9:5). There’s the heart of Daniel. Notice that he made no mention of the sins of the Babylonians, the sins of the Medes, the sins of the Persians. And believe me, those people had plenty of sins he could have talked about. But that’s not what’s important when you have a humble heart and are praying for heaven’s perspective.
So Daniel confessed on behalf of his people, God’s people: “We have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquities and paying attention to your truth” (9:13). Sin is how they’d gotten into this mess to begin with. Only by admitting it, learning from it, and repenting of it would they align themselves with the God who’d promised their deliverance.
After confessing, Daniel pleaded with God to show mercy. God had done it before, delivering His people from Egypt, bringing them out “with a strong hand,” making His name “renowned as it is this day” (9:15). Would He do it again? It was worth praying for. (After all, there was that promise he’d read in the book of Jeremiah.)
“Where are the men and women today who know how to pray this way?”
Daniel knew his people didn’t deserve God’s mercy. Far from it. So he appealed to God to show mercy “for your own sake,” acknowledging, in effect, “This isn’t about us, it’s about You!” (Daniel 9:16–19).
Where are the men and women today who know how to pray this way? Why don’t I pray this way, knowing the desperate condition of God’s people and knowing the gracious promises of God?
The rest of Daniel 9 (vv. 20–27) reveals heaven’s answer to Daniel’s prayer. “While I was praying, Gabriel . . . gave me this explanation” (9:21–22).
“While I was praying.” What if Daniel hadn’t prayed? What if he had just read Jeremiah’s prophecy and moved on to the next thing? You see, prayer was the next thing for Daniel. And it was while he was praying that the answer came from God.
“We, too, must endure through the difficulties, clinging in faith to Him who has promised that one day all wrongs will be righted and all things will be redeemed and made new.”
The answer, brought by the angel Gabriel, was that God had heard Daniel’s prayer. He would do as Daniel had asked—on His own timetable.
In the meantime, the angel said, God’s people should not grow discouraged; they should persevere and place their hope in the promises of God. And the same applies to you and me. We, too, must endure through the difficulties, clinging in faith to Him who has promised that one day all wrongs will be righted and all things will be redeemed and made new.
The days in which we live are no less complex than what Daniel faced in his day.
Thankfully, we can turn, as he did, to the Word of God, to learn what we need to know, what we should expect, and how we ought to think and live. May our study of Scripture, like Daniel’s, move us to prayer—earnest, prevailing prayer.
And may our prayers, like Daniel’s, be grounded in and fueled by God’s Word.
This process will anchor our minds and hearts in gospel truth, fill us with hope, and give us His message to share with our generation.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two nationally syndicated radio programs heard each day—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.
Find truth to calm your fears, comfort your heart, and give you courage to press on, in Nancy’s new book, Heaven Rules. Using the timeless book and example of Daniel as a guide, Nancy reveals how seeing our lives and world through the lens of Heaven’s rule can shield us from panic and give us renewed hope and perspective. Job worries. Deadline pressures. Deep regrets. Culture wars. There will always be alarms screeching. But two simple words can quiet them, calm our fears, comfort our hearts, and give us courage to press on: Heaven Rules!
[ Our humble thanks to Moody Publishers for their partnership in today’s devotion ]