Reader: “The moment you began praying,”
Response: “a command was given.”
Scripture: Daniel 9:15-25a
“O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by rescuing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. But we have sinned and are full of wickedness. In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.
“O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.
“O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.
“O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for your people and your city bear your name.”
I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the LORD my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain. As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. He explained to me, “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision.
“A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One—comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times.”
Reader: “This is the conclusion of Daniel’s prayer.”
Response: “This is the word of the Lord.”
The reading today is the concluding portion of Daniel’s prayer to the Lord. Daniel had been given a vision concerning the time of the ending of the world. Interestingly, the message was given by the angel, Gabriel, the same angel who would hundreds of years later speak to Zachariah, Mary, and Joseph! Here again is news concerning the Messiah, this time about his Return. This task seems to be Gabriel’s job. This prayer gives us much insight into prayer itself, one of the key themes of the Lenten season along with fasting, and giving to the poor. Notice several things in Daniel’s words: 1) We are reminded of God’s covenant promise to his people. In prayer it is always good to begin with reiterating the great truths about God. It puts our heart and mind into the right context for the rest of our prayer. 2) Daniel confesses his own sin as well as the sin of his people. He does not say “we’ve made mistakes; we’ve used bad judgment; we should have been wiser, we misread the situation, etc.” His words were, “we were wicked; we rebelled; we turned away; we did not listen.” There is complete admission that we have been in the wrong. In looking at today’s pericope we read the expression of a truly repentant heart and one of the most touching passages in Scripture. “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” Note the thrice appeal. There are few “three’s” in the Bible, this is one of them. It is worth reflecting on these appeals in light of the Trinity. We also see that “the fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.” (James 5:16) Daniel’s prayer moved heaven itself. What does all this tell us? Prayer is effective in the courts of heaven and on earth. There are times when God is moved to action by our prayers. “The moment you began praying, a command was given.” Keep praying God’s time table. In his prayer, Daniel was given God’s perspective on the situation. As you pray today for those things on your heart, listen for God’s perspective, what has he put on your heart. Pray for that.
Hymn: “Sweet Hour of Prayer” Radiance (back from last year! DO NOT MISS)
God of compassion, you are slow to anger and full of mercy, welcoming sinners who return to you with penitent hearts. Receive in your loving embrace all who come home to you. We confess that we have been wayward children. We have disobeyed your commands; our ears have been deaf to your call; our hearts have been cold to your love. In thought, in word, and in deed, in attitude we have hurt others and dishonored your name. Our sin is against you. Receive us yet again as your beloved children, not because we are worthy but for the sake of him who loved us and gave himself for us. Amen. -Anonymous