Sunday, August 16, 2015

Daniel 9 - A Modern Version

There is a prayer in the book of Daniel where the end result is that an angel of God is dispatched to directly answer Daniel. If you are like me and you believe that there is a creator and that a story is unfolding around us, then a prayer like this deserves a close look. I believe prayer is powerful in ways I can't even fully explain and this story from Daniel resonates with me deeply.

I've wondered about taking that prayer and following the outline of it to create a prayer that might fit today. To that end, the following prayer is an updated version of Daniel's prayer. 

I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: 
Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened.

Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of these lands, both near and far, in all the countries where we have gone. We and our leaders and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you.  The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him over and over; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the faith all the days.

Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from us. Our sins and the iniquities and our inconsistent and weak walk have made your people an object of scorn to all those around us. We are mocked and ridiculed by those who do not believe in you.

Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on us. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the church. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.

We acknowledge you as Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. We believe your son walked the earth all those years ago and we acknowledge him as your son and our savior. Thank you for revealing him, and you, to us.

We ask that you bless the church and all those who stand up in front of others to defend the Christian faith and story. We pray you will give us all the words we need and that you will protect us. Give us courage to speak boldly.

We further ask that you bless our leaders in this state, this country and around the world. May your spirit be at work in them and may you pour out wisdom upon them. Lord, the world is broken with hurt, war, hate and confusion. We pray that your people, that the church, can be a light in the world. 

Let me know what you think and if you think it can be improved, let me know. I'm going to be praying this prayer for the next seven days.

Mark


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Below is the original in the NIV:

Daniel’s Prayer

In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian[b]kingdom— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of theLord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:
“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.
“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets.11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.
“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 TheLord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.
15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.
17 “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, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

The Seventy “Sevens”

20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill 21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:
and then the angel proceeds to respond to Daniel's prayer.


7 comments:

  1. At just a glance, I notice how much confession is in this prayer. I think we as a people overlook our sins many times and fail to ask God for forgiveness. Let us know how getting into the role of Daniel helps you in your walk.

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    1. Robin, I've really changed prayers in the last month. I think for the better. More another time or we can talk.

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  2. Our nation SO badly needs this prayer. As does the church. As do we as individuals. Thank you for praying this and for sharing it with us.

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  3. This is beautiful. If you don't mind, I am going to pray this prayer for our country and our world. I am fascinated by different kinds of prayers - reactive prayers, proactive prayers, etc... For me, I like having something that I can recite (like this) in addition to my personal prayers. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Summer, I prayed this for a week. I think it affected me. I've since changed how I think and pray about a number of things. I've updated all my prayers that I use as a result of this experience. And, tonight I went through another wave of sending people cards in the real mail!

      I've doing lots of reciting these days and then shaping my personal thoughts from those templates. Adapting along the way. I think it makes a difference.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. A valued friend of mine and I have been exchanging emails on this post and I wanted to share his thoughts as I've continued to reflect upon this. He choose not to post his comments so I'll not post his name here:

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    Daniel’s prayer is certainly beautiful and touching, as is your prayer. I think it’s a great prayer to pray for 7 days.

    But I want to add a thought for your consideration. I used to have an “obsession with confession.” I certainly believe the admonitions of I John 1:9 and James 5:16. I believe that the value of the confessions John and James mention is that which is gained for our own benefit. God already knows our hearts.

    But my beliefs have changed in my old age. And consequently, so has my thinking and my actions. I have concluded that one of the primary problems that people face, both Christian and non-Christian, is the thought that we go “in and out” of God’s favor, depending on our actions. It’s the cause of legalism, and also the cause of running from God altogether. It is “old covenant” thinking. We, however, have a new covenant. It is a covenant of grace that depends on relationship, rather than human attempts at perfection. And I believe that grace is not so much a doctrine, as a Person. Jesus Christ. And I do not believe so much that we have misunderstood grace, as much as that we have misunderstood sin. ... when Jesus, who had no sin, took the sin of the world upon Himself, He endured the full wrath of God. In that process, Jesus exchanged places with us. So, because He took our sin, we now share His glory and perfection. Not through our own deeds of perfection, but through His exchange. Simply put, when God looked at the One on the cross, He saw me! And punishment was meted out. And today, when He looks at me, He sees Jesus! And blessings are lavished upon me.

    If we are in Christ, and Christ in us….if we are hidden in Him….then our position is different than Daniel’s, or David’s, or Job's. Therefore, I think that confession is not needed on our part, so much as praise for His grace and redemption. This is not at all to minimize sin, but the cross actually magnifies and exposes sin. But Jesus paid the price, and the debt is paid. Period! An old classic by J. Sidlow Baxter was entitled: The Finished Work of Christ. There were no chairs in the tabernacle or temple, but when Jesus re-intered heaven, He sat down. His work was completed! We are the beneficiaries of what He did. I think that’s where our focus needs to be, and that that will give hope to striving Christians and offer enticement to those who have not yet believed.

    I’m afraid that if we continually emphasize confession that we put the focus back on our own failures and imply that we can do something about those failures, like confession.

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    I've reflected upon this quite a bit. The prayer of Daniel seems to be a corporate prayer where the community, had failed. Perhaps that prayer, that confession for the church as a whole, is still valid, but I think my friend is right on a personal level.

    I might revise this prayer further.

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