Daniel was one of the righteous men of his generation, the young exiles to Babylon. He kept the law of God, in spirit and in letter, despite the extraordinarily serious threats made upon him because of it. And yet, when he prays for his people, his nation, he makes no distinction between himself and them. He confesses for them, including himself in their number; he begs for God’s mercy, making no mention of his own righteousness or years of faithfulness.
Do we do this when we pray for our country, our churches, our communities? Or do we, in our prayers, distance ourselves from the ones we’re praying for? Do we see ourselves a step above them, separate from their problems and sins? Daniel could easily have done so, and yet he did not. Foreshadowing the intercessory mediation of Christ, he metaphorically took the sins of his nation upon himself and sought mercy at the throne of grace. As members of Christ’s earthly body, faced with the brokenness and sin of our nation, surely we can do no less, in our prayers and in our lives.
“O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, […] because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. […]
O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from [us]. Hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.
O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations […]; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.
O Lord, hear!
O Lord, forgive!
O Lord, listen and act!” (from Daniel 9:4-19)