Daniel 9:4 “I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed, ‘O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands…’”
Daniel refers to the God to whom he was praying as the LORD. If you check in your Bible, this is spelled in all capital letters. This is the name by which God revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush: the “I Am” God, “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” if taken letter by letter from the Hebrew.
This name was important for a couple of reasons. It was this name especially by which God distinguished himself from all the false gods. The God of the Bible has always insisted that he is the only God there is. Praying to any other god is a complete waste of time.
We might compare it to praying in Jesus’ name in our day. Since Jesus has come, we know that it is only through him that we know the true God. We even have his promise to give us what we ask in his name. When we pray to or through Jesus, we are praying to the only God there really is.
Now not every prayer has to include the letters J-E-S-U-S out loud to be “in his name.” But prayers which purposely exclude Jesus to avoid offense, or because they are offered by non-Christians, go nowhere. Offered to any other god, they are a complete waste of time.
Getting the object of our prayers, the true God, right was important for another reason. By his name the LORD God revealed some very important truths about what kind of a God he is. To put it in his own words, he is “The LORD, the LORD, the gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in love, forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin.” Knowing that he is a God of grace, compassion, forgiveness, and love, encourages us to come to him in prayer often.
So do Daniel’s descriptions of him. “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands…” When we believe in God and go to him for help, we need to know that we are praying to more than some little sprite like the tooth fairy, who isn’t good for much more than a couple of quarters under the pillow. He is the great and awesome God who fills all things and holds all power. We can share the confidence of our children who have learned to sing, “My God is so great, so strong, and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.”
Then we can be sure that he is the God who “keeps his covenant of love,” the God who keeps all his promises. That was a special comfort for Daniel here. He was praying about the seemingly impossible return of his people to their homeland. Who was Israel now but a defeated little ethnic group without a country of their own? What favors could they expect from the great Persian Empire? But Daniel knew that God had promised through Jeremiah this would all end in 70 years. Daniel knew that our God keeps his promises.
Doesn’t that help to inspire our prayers? And doesn’t that encourage us to get to know more and more about the God to whom we pray, so that we can know his promises and be sure of his blessings?