In Daniel 9 it is recorded that Daniel observed in Scripture that the exile of the Jews in Babylon was to last seventy years (2 Chronicles 36:21 and Jeremiah 25:11, for example). After that amount of time, God would allow the people to return to the land of Israel. Daniel recognized that the seventy years were nearly complete, and in Daniel 9 he prays to God, beseeching Him to “incline Your ear and hear” (Daniel 9:18, NKJV).
When Daniel realized that the time of deliverance was near, he praised God (Daniel 9:4) and confessed the nation’s sin—humbly including himself as partner in the nation’s guilt (Daniel 9:5–11a). He recognized that God was faithful to His word when He brought judgment to the nation and that Judah’s punishment was fully justified and deserved (Daniel 9:11–14). After again acknowledging his and the national sin (Daniel 9:15), Daniel asks God to end His wrath for His own sake (Daniel 9:16–17). God had committed to restoring the people after seventy years, and, since that time was at hand, fulfilling the prophecy was a matter of God’s own holiness and character.
Remarkably, Daniel’s request that God incline His ear and hear is not based in selfish motives. Rather, his concern is indeed that God would be proved to be holy. Daniel adds that he is not requesting this cessation of judgment because of his or the nation’s merits—he recognizes that they had none—but because of God’s great compassion (Daniel 9:18). He beseeches God to “incline Your ear and hear” and then echoes his earlier acknowledgement that God would take action for His own sake (Daniel 9:19).
While Daniel was in the midst of this prayer—before he had even finished—God responded. God did indeed incline His ear and hear by sending Gabriel with an answer to the prayer (Daniel 9:20–23). Gabriel presented to Daniel an incredible panorama of God’s prophetic plan and the true elegance of how God would fulfill His promises to the nation of Israel. God’s word would ultimately be fulfilled through the Messiah (Daniel 9:24–27).
Daniel’s righteousness and humility are remarkable. Gabriel acknowledged that, even at the beginning of Daniel’s prayer, God had sent Gabriel to Daniel because Daniel was highly esteemed (Daniel 9:23). Of course, God never promises He will respond to prayers in this way, but we are told that the prayer of a righteous person is effective (James 5:16b). While God isn’t providing new revelation in this current age like He did in Daniel’s time, we should still be as prayerful as Daniel was. In fact, Paul encourages the Thessalonian believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and instructs them that such prayerfulness with thanksgiving is God’s plan for them (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
It is a wonderful thing that, like Daniel, we can ask God to “incline Your ear and hear.” We can give all our anxiety to Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). In fact, we don’t need to be anxious for anything; instead, we ought to be prayerful and express our thanksgiving to the Lord (Philippians 4:6). Just like God provided Daniel with what he needed—though in a different way—God will provide us with peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).