17Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” (Daniel 9:17-19 ESV)
Daniel experiences prophetic dreams and visions. He sees beasts rising from the sea, and a beast with ten horns given dominion. Then he sees the Ancient of days taking his seat on the throne and the beast is destroyed and dominion of the kingdom is given to one looking like the son of man. This new kingdom is everlasting, it will not be destroyed and the saints of the Most High receive the kingdom and possess it “forever, forever and ever.” The vision goes on…
What amazes me the most is Daniels response to the visions – Prayer. Daniel does not take the final outcome for granted, but instead he pleads for God’s mercy as he confesses the corporate sin of Israel – a continual refusal to turn back to God.
As Christians we know the “end of the story”, we’ve read the New Testament, we’ve heard the words of Jesus, we know who the “Son of Man” is and his imminent dominion. We are confident that we possess eternal life, and we may even realize that we are those saints of the Most High who will reign with the Son of Man.
How does our understanding prompt us to react? Are we praying for the saints, those called by his name – the church? What about the lost – the ones who continue to rely on their own righteousness? I pray for myself because I know my need, but I rarely pray prayers of confession on behalf of others.
Two hours after reading these passages I received a phone call. I was asked to pray for one of the saints, to pray for God’s mercy and not justice. It was not a plea based on this friends righteousness, but on God’s great mercy.
Today, through Daniel and a phone call, God taught me to pray for the saints.
Lord God, thank you for hearing our prayers and for the forgiveness of sins we receive through the confession of sins and the work of Christ on our behalf. Thank you Father that by your great mercy we will not get what we deserve. Thank you instead for promising to give us what we don’t deserve – eternal life and the inheritance of the kingdom that lasts forever, forever and ever.
Thank you for hearing my prayers and for granting mercy over judgment today. Amen.