Scripture: Daniel 9:3-19
3 So I turned to the LORD God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also wore rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes.
4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed:
“O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. 5 But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. 6 We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.
7 “Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. 😯 LORD, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. 9But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. 10We have not obeyed the LORD our God, for we have not followed the instructions he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11All Israel has disobeyed your instruction and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice.
“So now the solemn curses and judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured down on us because of our sin. 12 You have kept your word and done to us and our rulers exactly as you warned. Never has there been such a disaster as happened in Jerusalem. 13 Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the LORD our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth. 14 Therefore, the LORD has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The LORD our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him.
15 “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. 16 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.
17 “O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.
18 “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.
19 “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.”
Daniel and his people were in a very difficult and disturbing situation. He turned to the Lord (in sackcloth, ashes, and fasting-he pulled out all the stops in expressing his repentant heart!) to seek an answer. Notice the structure of his plea. His prayer begins with confessing (agreeing with God) regarding God’s power. He affirms that God keeps his covenant with unwavering love to those who love him and are faithful. Daniel affirms what is true about God’s character and being. God’s character is the foundation for our repentance. He remembers who God is.
He then moves from affirming the truth about God to confessing the truth about his people. “We have sinned and done wrong . . .” We have not obeyed your laws. We have not listened to your messengers, the prophets who spoke in your name to our current leaders, to our ancestors in the past, and, in fact, to all of us. We have rejected your word at every point. Righteousness is on your side. Shame is on our side no matter if we are here in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the world. We are totally and completely at fault for what we and our ancestors have done. To you Lord, belongs mercy and forgiveness. We have completely rejected you and the people who brought your words to us. Our whole nation has rejected your law and refused to heed your word. Does this description of Daniel’s nation seem at all familiar and apropos to our nation and world? Our rebellion necessitates our repentance.
Daniel continues. We are justly cursed under your law, the law you gave Moses. We had it in writing what would happen if we broke our covenant with you and we went ahead and rebelled anyway. God kept up the grief on us which we certainly deserved. God is right in what he is doing. There are always eventual and just consequences for our sinful rebellion.
Daniel then appeals to God’s actions of delivering his people in the past. He pleads for the Lord to deliver them based on God’s mercies rather than their righteousness. He likewise appeals to the Lord’s own name’s sake for deliverance. (This is not uncommon in biblical prayers.) Daniel then concludes with three impassioned pleas: “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, for your city and your people bear your name.” In Daniel’s prayer we are given an articulate model of fervent prayer. In typical Hebrew fashion, he prays in duplets: hear and forgive, then listen and act; and don’t delay for your own sake God. Daniel’s advice? Humbly speak the truth in your prayers and don’t be shy. The nations of the world and our cultures are certainly in full-on rebellion against God. Does Daniel’s prayer strike you as one your nation could, should pray? Pray it today and in the days ahead on behalf of your country. The nations of the world desperately need fervent prayer. You can use Daniel’s words, he won’t mind.
Music: “Breathe On Us Again” –Maranatha Singers (An ‘old’ prayer with words that are ever true!)
O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive us. We have lost the awe of You, Have mercy, have mercy.
O Lord, cleanse our hearts which are divided. Stir the faith that we once knew.
We’re thirsty, we’re thirsty.
O Lord, restore the church that bears Your name.
O Spirit, send a revival to this nation.
Breathe on us again, breathe on us again.
Gracious Father in heaven, filled with compassion, tenderness, and love, our nation has brought great sadness to you by its arrogant pride and defiant ways of rejecting your word. Our culture has delighted in rejecting you and your creation preferring its own perverted ways. Forgive us Lord, have mercy. In truth, we have all sinned and fallen very, very short of your glory. We have no forgiveness except in you. There is no healing except in you. There is no transformation except in you. There is no hope except in you. There is no health except in you. Lord, have mercy on us and on our nation and bring revival to the glory of your great name. This we pray through Jesus, who with you and the Holy Spirit reign one God, world without end. Amen.