Daniel 9:18-19 “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
This whole chapter, including Daniel’s prayer, (vv. 4-19) his impetus to pray, (vv. 1-3) and God’s response, (v. 20 ff) is worth a lot of study. Daniel is a beautiful example of an intercessor. He was prompted by the Word of the Lord, both Deuteronomy and what Jeremiah had said (though it wasn’t yet formally included in the Bible). He was personally righteous, but he identified with and confessed the sins of his people, and so made his prayer in great humility, as is expressed here. There is nothing selfish or self-centered about it. As a result, God answered magnificently, and even praised him personally (v. 23). No other ethnic group has ever been identified with the Name of the Lord the way the Jews have been since the days of Abraham, but Christians quite literally bear the Name of Christ, so there are many parallels. The sad thing is that Christians have been as prone to dishonor the Name they bear as the Jews have been. In seminary my most distasteful class was one in Church History, because I had to study all the horrible things that have been done down through the centuries by people who claimed the Name of the Lord. That includes not only such things as churches in Germany cooperating with the Nazis but also the horrendous things being taught by “Christian” schools and “theologians” even today. We have every reason to pray almost exactly as Daniel did! Many in the world have a poor opinion of Christ because they are watching the Christians around them. Our lives should be examples of purity and grace, not compromise and judgmentalism. We need to repent indeed, allowing the Holy Spirit to show us where we have fallen short personally and also recognize where our churches and denominations have missed the mark. And repentance doesn’t just mean recognizing a mistake, but also correcting it, changing to be as God desires. God receives repentance, and He forgives and acts. We need to believe that, and pray as Daniel did.
I would be deceiving myself if I didn’t think this applied to me as much as to anyone else. Christians in Japan have done some very good things, but they have also bickered among themselves, as well as failed to proclaim the Gospel because they didn’t want to rock the boat, valuing their personal comfort more than the eternal salvation of their neighbor. I too stand guilty. The average Japanese sees the Church as perhaps benign but largely irrelevant, and that’s because the Christians, myself included, haven’t presented the Gospel any differently. I know that I have failed to speak and act many times out of a fear of rejection, thereby depriving people of the words of life that they might not hear any other way. I am not to just bemoan the current state of affairs, but rather be fully willing to change, to act as God desires, for His glory.
Father, thank You for Daniel’s prayer and for speaking to me through it like this. Thank You for the memorial service we had yesterday, and for speaking through me both in it and afterwards as I talked with the family. Thank You that the mother and younger sister will be coming to the service this morning. I pray that Your Spirit would have free rein to bring them to repentance and faith, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!