Daniel 9 contains one of the great prayers of the Bible. If we are to pray as Daniel does then we need to see the world as he does. As you read his prayer again, keep an eye out for how he has a right view of humanity and a right view of himself.
Read Daniel 9:1-14.
A right view of humanity
Daniel begins his prayer with a sharp contrast. As he draws before the throne of the Almighty, he sees a long history of rejecting God and contempt for Him that stretches back over centuries. Where the Lord is great and awesome and keeps His covenant, the people have sinned, they have done wrong, they have been wicked, they have rebelled, they have turned away and they have not listened. It’s almost as if Daniel is overwhelmed with the scale of Israel’s rejection of God, he simply cannot find enough words to describe their breaking of the covenant.
Throughout this prayer, Daniel recognises that the Lord owes Israel nothing. At every level of society, right up to kings and princes, and in every age, right back to their ancestors, Daniel can see that his people have rejected the rule of the Lord.
That drives him to prayer and to repentance on behalf of his people.
And so if we are to engage in heartfelt, faithful prayer as Daniel does, it will require us to glimpse something of the glory, majesty and holiness of God. To see Him for who He is and, in so doing, to recognise the terrible sinfulness of humanity.
At every level of society, in every period of history, we have shown ourselves to be a rebellious and sinful people. We cannot come to God expecting Him to do us a favour. He has been faithful, we as His creatures have been faithless. We need to join with Daniel in recognising the sin of our people and confessing it before the Lord.
Jot down a few things that you see in the world around you that represent humanity’s sinfulness. Spend some time saying sorry to God for the ways we have rejected Him.
A right view of himself
But Daniel not only has a right view of his people, but also a right view of himself.
Look at how many times Daniel says ‘we’ or ‘us’ or ‘our’. Daniel doesn’t look at those around him and reflect on how good he is by comparison, no, throughout this passage he identifies completely with his people. He confesses their sins as though they were his own.
If we are to seek passionate prayer ourselves, we too must recognise the need for us to be included in the corporate repentance. We may despair as we look at all that is wrong with society. But as we look at our own hearts, there is doubtless plenty there too that we would be ashamed to admit. We need to turn “they” into “we”.
Write down some things in your own life that you want to say sorry to God for. Speak to Him about them.
Daniel knows that he is a sinner living amongst a nation of sinners, and yet he still comes before the holy, almighty, creator God and expects to be able to present his petitions and requests. Tomorrow we’ll find out what it is that gives him such confidence.