09/16/15 The Basis of Our Praying

READING: Daniel 7-9

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  On what basis do we pray? Daniel 9 is Daniel’s petition on behalf of the exiles, whose exile was coming to an end. His focus was not on the people, though; it was on the God who answers prayer. Daniel’s prayer models how sinful people might approach God:

1. Daniel prayed with “fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Dan. 9:3), thus using three common ways in that day to express the guilt and sorrow of God’s people. They simply did not deserve anything less than God’s judgment. Nor do we.  

2. Daniel recognized who God is. He is the “great and awe-inspiring God” (Dan. 9:4), the One to whom “righteousness belongs” (Dan. 9:7), and the One who is “righteous in all He has done” (Dan. 9:14).

3. Daniel confessed who the people were. He piled up the descriptors, in fact, to show their wickedness: "we have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from Your commands and ordinances. We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, leaders, fathers, and all the people of the land. . . . All Israel has broken Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You” (Dan. 9:5-11).

4. Daniel appealed to the Lord’s name. It was not for Israel that Daniel wanted God to bring the exile to an end; it was for the Lord’s glory:  “Therefore, our God, hear the prayer and the petitions of Your servant. Show Your favor to Your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake. Listen, my God, and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city called by Your name” (Dan. 9:17-18a).

5. Daniel leaned on the Lord’s great compassion. Note the clarity of his prayer: “For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion" (Dan. 9:18b).

Thus, we have a model to follow when we recognize our sin: Grieve over our wrong. Recognize our wrong as against a holy, righteous, awe-inspiring God. Confess our sin, admitting that it’s nothing less than rebellion. Focus on the Lord and His glory; assume any forgiveness He grants is because of who He is, not because of who we are. Lean on the Lord’s compassion, and receive His grace. 

In the end, we can pray with Daniel, "Lord, hear! Lord, forgive!” (Dan. 9:19).

PRAYER: “Lord, do hear our prayers. Do forgive our sins. Thank You, God, for Your great compassion.”