18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
I simply want to point out two important things about the way that Daniel prays right here. First, note that Daniel prays, not out of his goodness or righteousness, but based on the mercy and kindness of God. There is no thought in Daniel’s prayer that he deserves some sort of favor from God. On the contrary, Daniel knows that he does not deserve God’s favor, but rather his judgment. Thus, when he prays, he prays asking God to show mercy because God is merciful.
Second, note that Daniel prays that God act for the sake of his name. God does what God does for the sake of the glory of his name. This is true in all things that the Lord has done. God created us for his glory. God chose and kept Israel for his name’s sake. Jesus will return to be glorified. Without question, God acts for the sake of his name. Daniel understands that the name, the reputation, the glory of God is of central importance. Thus, Daniel prays that God act on Jerusalem’s behalf in order that God’s name might be glorified.
We should learn from Daniel’s pattern here. When we pray, as many do, and end our prayers with, “In Jesus’ name we pray,” we should grasp that the point behind that is to pray something like Daniel’s “For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.” When we pray in the name of Jesus, we pray asking that God will grant our request based on the mercy, the kindness, and the perfection of Jesus. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we pray acknowledging that we have no right to ask God for anything apart from Christ. This should make us rightly humble and rightly grateful to Jesus for giving us the privilege of praying in his name.
Secondly, we too should pray that God’s name be glorified. When we pray and ask for a thing to be done, we ought to look for the way that the request we make will glorify God should he grant it. We should allow our prayers to be governed by what will most give honor and glory to our God. We should pray that God do certain things in order that his name be praised. This would change how we pray, and it would help our minds to be properly focused on the center of the universe, the glory of our King.