Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"O Lord … for Your own sake"

Daniel Praying - Daniel 9
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Daniel 9:1-19

TO CHEW ON: "O Lord hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name."  Daniel 9:19

Apologies that start out, "I'm sorry," then turn at "but…" into self-justification ring hollow. There is not a whisper of such an attitude in Daniel's prayer.

Though he was devout in his own life, in this prayer he includes himself with his countrymen: "We have sinned and committed iniquity, … done wickedly … rebelled …. Neither have we heeded the prophets …. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God" (emphasis added).

He recognizes that their current state of exile is a consequence of the nation's rebellion and begs for God's mercy: "To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him …. we do not present our supplication before You because of our righteous deeds but because of Your great mercies" (Daniel 9:9,18 - emphasis added).

His main concern is God's glory and not his or his people's restoration. It's important, Daniel reasons, that the people return to their land and the city ("Jerusalem" - vs. 16) and its temple ("sanctuary" - vs 17) be rebuilt because they are attached to God's name and reputation.

There is much we can apply to our own prayers from Daniel's example.

1. We can come to God without excuses, owning our sins and the sins of our families, churches, and nation.

2.We can accept the fact that the law of consequences, of "sowing and reaping," is still in effect for us. The sins we have turned a blind eye to in society are entering the church and she will suffer the consequences unless she repents. Now, like Daniel, we depend on God's mercy and not what we do.

3. We can raise the goal of our prayers to go from praying for our successes   to the enhancement of God's reputation and glory
: "… Do not delay for your own sake, my God, for your city (the church?) and Your people are called by Your name" Daniel 9:19.

PRAYER: Dear God, may I catch the spirit of Daniel in my prayer—that of owning and admitting my sins, repenting, and relying on Your mercy. I want Your good reputation and glory to be enhanced, not hindered, by my life. Amen.

MORE: A great OT prayer
Daniel's prayer here is counted with the great prayers of the Old Testament. Walter Brueggemann ends his chapter on Daniel's prayer with three great questions we might want to ask ourselves:

1. How can we pray when we feel lost or dislocated?
2. What are the worldly and imperial powers about which we need to pray?
3. How can we call God to faithfulness? - Walter Brueggemann, Great Prayers of the Old Testament, p. 121.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.
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