Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem…
Ill success in prayer is so common that men scarcely know it is ill success; they pray and nothing comes of it, so they are not disappointed. They take fruitlessness as the rule, and do not travel back to ask why prayer should be fruitless. In the history of opinion, Daniel has an unique place. When we look to Daniel for teaching we look to a man placed by his own age, which is apt to find out a man's inconsistency, supreme in spiritual achievement. What was, then, the meaning of Daniel's ritual in prayer?
1. He sought to place himself in the presence of God. To look away towards Jerusalem was to be delivered from servitude to the splendours of Babylon by the apprehension of a greater splendour. We need to remember the disadvantages with which we commonly start in our prayer; how disinclined our spirits are, and how ill the common circumstances of life prepare us for it. Our tempers have have been fretted, our interests scattered, our judgments debarred; we have been meeting men on a low level of mutual mistrust, or in the interchange of social frivolities. And all of this has to be got rid of before prayer can have its perfect work. The larger soul in us must be called out, that we may even see what the objects of prayer may be. There are prayers offered which, without intention, exhibit every possible fault. They are irrelevant to the situation, asking what is not needed, and omitting what is needed; they are fretful instead of jubilant; their tone is distrustful, as if God were trying to outwit us. And nothing can sweep such prayers away except the noble use of memory. How can you thank God if you have not sought to remember all His benefits? What could Daniel look to? One object filled the hearts of all the Jewish patriots, a lamentable object. Their glorious city, of ancient story, and solemn observance, was desolate. The city was a heap of ruins; desecrated by sin first, and now by heathen conquest, and the land kept Sabbath in an awful loneliness. And Daniel strained his eyes across the endless plains, that sight filled his mind, and drew from him the importunate cry: — "How long, O Lord? " If his daily life furnished no other matter for prayer, there was matter enough in this.
2. After exercise in the thought of the presence of God, there is no discipline so necessary as this of letting visions of need rise before the mind. There should be pity given to the man who says he does not know what to pray for, and ampler pity for his neighbour who asks for what he does not want. The world is full of need, and its cry rises continually before God, sounding in the ears of all who can hear. There is no need of seeking or of refining in petitions; one day of life brings us into contact with need of all sorts — the helplessness of little children, the sigh of men overtasked, the care which has furrowed the brow and bent the shoulders, the satisfaction with a selfish life, the servitude to evil passion; there is no crushing the images of need which flit past our eyes even in the street. And a little thought deepens the awe; in ourselves we know so dark a world of discontent and defeat, of reproach and fruitless effort, of fear and sin, and all the men and women about us repeat the same story. And outside is a whole world of gloom, of life without colour or joy, of men without God or hope. And rising a little, we see to the farther horizons embracing the great world which does not know the very name of Christ, and which is full of horrid cruelties. We may not shut our eyes to it in prayer; the world needs joy. And as we watch like Daniel, the thoughts of that overwhelming need thronging in upon us will wring from us prayers rising to passion. To have all that sorrow pressing on our heart would bring madness with it; our comfort is in being permitted to share the burden with Him whose heart is pierced as ours, and who by His strength has marked for it all a blessed end.
(W.M. Macgregor, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
WEB: When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house (now his windows were open in his room toward Jerusalem) and he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did before.