Today I recommend that you read the prayer of Daniel chapter 9 where Daniel prays asking God’s forgiveness and restoration of His people from exile. Please note that, as we saw in Nehemiah chapter 1, Daniel identifies himself with his people even though he is a righteous man. Here is the beginning of his prayer:“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets…” (Daniel 9:4-6, NIV).
As he confesses the sins of the nation, we will see that his appeal has nothing to do with his own efforts or righteousness. Even though he is fasting and praying, he is praying based upon who the Lord is. Here is the ending of his prayer:“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay…” (Daniel 9:17-19, NIV).
Twice Daniel prays to the Lord “for your sake”, and then spells it out for us: “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” Our hope in prayer is that God is merciful. Our hope for our nation is that God wants to bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. It all begins with who the Lord is, and what He has told us He is like and wants to do.
Daniel’s prayer actually has its origin in the revelation which God gave of Himself to Moses in Exodus 34: “Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…” (verses 6-7, NASB). Our Lord is compassionate and gracious, and because of His great love He forgives every kind of sin. Praise God! This gives us the hope that our prayers for forgiveness and restoration of our nation can be answered.
Throughout Scripture, you will find that the people of God base their prayers and requests along these lines, reminding the Lord of what He has revealed about Himself. Typing in “compassionate and gracious” to the Biblegateway search line promptly gave 9 places in the Old Testament where Hezekiah, Nehemiah, King David and three other psalmists, Joel and Jonah all quoted this passage in prayer, praise or exhortation. Jonah even used these verses as his excuse for not wanting to preach to Nineveh, because after they repented he complained to the Lord, “I knew you’d forgive these terrible people!” Amen–praise God for His amazing mercy!
Father, we come to You today because of Your great mercy, and bring our nation before You. Like Your people, we, too, have sinned, done wrong and committed wickedness, and we have abandoned the Bible, Your word, as being relevant to us. Sickness, death, anger, uncertainty and fear fill our land. We need Your help! We need You to act! Please use all that is happening to turn people’s hearts and minds to You. Let us feel in our hearts how each one of us has sinned, and then may we each turn to You for forgiveness. Let there be a realization of sinfulness accompanied by the revelation of your great love and kindness brought to every man, woman and child in our land. May Jesus be recognized and honored as Lord in America. Our hope is in You and You alone. Amen.