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Written by Jim Jordal   
Tuesday, 04 September 2012

DANIEL PRAYS FOR HIS PEOPLE

By Jim Jordal

 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said…We have sinned, and …have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:  Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land…As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us…that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth….O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from …thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.  Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications…O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

From the prayer of Daniel, Daniel 9, KJV

This prayer of national confession and plea for God’s delivering mercies comes from the "belly of the beast," so to speak. Daniel was one of the Jews taken captive into Babylon after the conquering of Jerusalem and Judah by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Although Daniel rose to some prominence in Babylon as a result of his ability to interpret dreams, he still suffered greatly over the destruction of his homeland and the virtual slavery of his people under the Babylonian system.

This is a prayer of confession, contrition, surrender, and recognition. Daniel understood that the reason for their misery was their national sin in forgetting God, refusing to heed the warnings of their prophets, ignoring God’s law, and living in a state of national rebellion against God. Daniel prays for the entire nation even though at the time they were enduring the prophesied 70-year captivity. He addresses his prayer to "the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God." Since "mountains" usually represent nations or large groups of people in Scripture, Daniel is praying to his God for his people, who even in captivity still retain their identity as God’s holy people.

The sin confessed by Daniel is national in scope, as he confesses "my sin and the sin of my people Israel," thus identifying himself with the destiny of his people. He does not blame anyone for this sin, but confesses the culpability of everyone from the top leaders of the nation on down to the lowest servant. Everyone has participated in sin, and all need to face their guilt and accept God’s forgiveness.

Daniel also knows why his people are suffering in captivity. He knew of the prophesies recorded in Deuteronomy 28, where Moses specifically mentions the choice before the new nation as to whether it would follow God or human reasoning. Moses powerfully pointed out the costs and outcomes of each choice: obedience would lead to national blessing and success while disobedience would lead to national confusion of purpose, conquest by their enemies, weather disasters, and the diminishing of national power.

Daniel prays for God’s anger at their national sin to be turned away, not because of anything good he or his people have done, but because of God’s mercy and because of the promises God had made to his forefathers. Daniel’s people were in covenant with God and it was because of this covenant, not their own righteousness, that Daniel dared to pray as he did.

Now to America today. Our ecclesiastical leaders must realize that there is a connection between the current travails of the land and our egregious behavior in forgetting the laws of God as related to us in Scripture. Prophetic voices from the time of Moses chronicled the in-and-out relationship of the nation with God. This unstable spiritual state remains today in our land. Our mouths speak of justice and mercy, but do not administer them in practice. Until we stop merely speaking of righteousness and begin to do it there will be no relief from our suffering. We must do what Jesus clearly advocated in his first sermon: preach good news to the poor, healing to the brokenhearted, release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, deliverance to those who are crushed, and proclamation of the "year of the Lord’s favor," or Jubilee.

That’s what Daniel prayed for, and that’s what we must begin doing as things economic and political go from bad to worse. Politicians cannot save us; only God and his word will do.