When God's sanctuary is desolate
"Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary which is desolate, for the Lord's sake" (Dan. 9:17).
Daniel 9 is one of the great prayers of the Bible, and I commend it to you to read in its fulness. Daniel is praying that God will keep his word and bring his people out of captivity, according to the word of the prophet Jeremiah (9:2). However, Daniel understands that he is asking for something that, humanly speaking, seems impossible. The people of God were in captivity because of their sin, scattered throughout the nations. And God's temple, the symbol of God's presence among his people was broken down and destroyed. It was, as Daniel puts it, desolate.
But here is great encouragement. No matter how desolate God's kingdom and cause seem to be, it is - in God's good providence - but one prayer away from restoration. Even though the children of Israel had absolutely no power, humanly speaking, and were dominated by the great Empires of the time, yet we know that God did fulfill his word which he promised to Jeremiah and he did answer the prayer which Daniel prayed. The temple was rebuilt, God's people did return, and years later, the Messiah was born in the land of Israel that in Daniel's time was in such dire straits.
I know that when we look around today, it is easy to become discouraged. God's people seem to be so divided, and the enemies of the church seem to be so empowered. But let us never forget that however desolate God's cause may seem to be, God can never and will never forsake his people, his church, and his cause. The gates of hell will never prevail against it (Mt. 16:18). We are, if God wills, just one prayer away from revival and restoration. Remember that and be encouraged!