*Be sure to read the Preface if you haven’t. Also, pastors and music ministers, feel free to encourage your congregations and musicians to subscribe as part of our corporate preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
Reader: “O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act!”
Response: “For your own sake, do not delay.”
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!
Reader: The word of the Lord
Response: Thanks be to God.
There is an interesting aspect to Daniel’s prayer which is something I have seldom heard, if ever, when someone is praying. His words . . . “for your name’s sake, smile on your people again.” In other words, he’s appealing to the Lord’s reputation as viewed by the surrounding unbelieving peoples. The nations are laughing at “the children of God,” which in an indirect way, is laughing at God. Note the second commandment here, that we are not to take God’s name in vain. Put simply, the Israelites are representing God in vain; they are poor ambassadors of their LORD. Jerusalem, the city of God, the city they are to care for and about, lies in ruins as a result of their rebellion. In a nutshell, they are a disgrace as the people of God. Hence, Daniel’s fervent prayer of confession.
Confession comes from the Greek word homologeo, meaning “same word, to speak the same thing.” Confession means simply, “we agree with what God has said, we agree with his opinion, his word of judgment.” We abandon our assessment and conclusion and embrace his word on the situation, realizing his unfailing love is perfect, which means his view is also absolutely perfect.
Daniel’s words are simple and straightforward. “Lord, you are in the right,” which also says that “we are in the wrong.” Thankfully, we have a God who is, in Daniel’s words, “merciful and forgiving.” What is true of Israel in Daniel’s day is true of all of our nations in our day as well, (realizing many of you reading this are not from the USA). Daniel speaks of the consequences of sin and rebellion against God, who is true to his word in judgment as well as in blessing. In his plea, Daniel prays three-fold, “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord listen and act . . . Not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.” Isn’t that the heart of all of our prayers? When we think of national repentance, notice that Daniel starts with confessing his own sin first and then the sins of his people.
There is one other interesting thing that occurs here. “The moment you began praying , a command was given.” Sometimes we may think that our prayers don’t result in immediate action, that God files our prayers in the “get to it later” box. Not so. Daniel’s prayer had an immediate effect. Realize God acts through your prayer. The prayer itself doesn’t change things. It is through prayer that God changes things, including the one doing the praying! Through prayer, we can be involved directly in what God is doing.
Music: ““Hear My Prayer O Lord” Purcell Voces8 One of the finest choral groups singing today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74Q33UL7ugc
Prayer:O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate world. O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your world—the creation that you made—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 whole created order, forgive our determined rebellion and repeated rejection of you. We have greatly sinned and repent of our evil ways. We have not loved as we ought; we have not valued babies waiting to be born; we have failed to care for the poor as we should; we have twisted the clear truth of your word to satisfy our own bent desires in living our lives. We have become, no, we are arrogant. O Lord, hear, O Lord forgive. This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ―adapted from Daniel 9. Daniel Sharp