Prayer and God’s Sovereignty


BY MICHAEL REYNOLDS


I believe that God is sovereign over nations as well as the particles that make up the individuals in those nations. He rules the universe by the world of his command; he upholds all of it by his power. 

In 605 BCE, Jeremiah prophesied 70 years of captivity in Babylon (Lange 189); that same year, the first group of Jews were deported to Babylon (Rusten 39) and the 70 year clock began ticking. Jeremiah prophesied saying, "This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 25:11-12).

Near the end of the 70 year captivity Daniel takes notice of the decree, "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” (Daniel 9:1-2)

So around 537 BC, 68 years into the prophesied captivity, Daniel read the words of the prophet Jeremiah and perceived that the end of the 70 years was in sight (Lange 188). His response to God’s sovereign decree of 70 years in exile is the focus of this article. Instead of responding to the nearing end of captivity with hopeful joy as though it is a mechanical certainty, he responds with a sense of responsibility to see the release of his people come to pass. Daniel possesses a view of prayer that would benefit us greatly to adopt as our own. Daniel views prayer as a sovereign means to the fulfillment of a sovereign decree. He does not see the decree as a reason to hold his peace in prayer, instead it is recorded this way: 

"Then I [Daniel] turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules...” (Daniel 9:3-5)

How desperately we need a prayer reformation like this. We should follow Daniel’s example to petition the sovereign God with sovereignly ordered prayers to see his sovereign will come to pass. We are presented with two options concerning what God is doing in the world: to be involved with God’s work through prayer or to be irrelevant. 


Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Zöckler, O., & Strong, J. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures:         Daniel (p. 188-189). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Rusten, S. with E. Michael. (2005). The complete book of when & where in the Bible and                    throughout history (p. 39). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.