As you may know I’m currently going through the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to look up verses, read passages and then compile lists based on types of prayer such as private vs public, intercessory, supplication etc. I’m doing this as part of the Tim Tebow and Praying in Public study. A few days ago while working on looking up verses that had to do with fasting I came across Daniel chapter 9. Here the prophet Daniel is pleading with God in prayer, petition and fasting. Have you ever read a chapter or verse of the Bible where it felt like the words were beaming up off the pages straight into your face with mega emphasis added in every way possible? That is the Holy Spirit stirring your heart through God’s word! Well that happened to me especially with the following sentence:
We do not make requests of you because we are righteous
but because of your great mercy.
Let the implication of those words sink in. God has been speaking to me with these simple yet profound words. As I’ve pondered verses 17-19 through meditation and prayer God has really been hitting home to me a sensitivity towards His great mercy….the only reason we can make any sort of prayer or petition to Him is because of His great mercy. In fact the only reason I can type this blog post or for that matter live another day is because of His great mercy! The only reason the nations on earth have not ceased to exist, the only reason we are playing in the snow, making friends or worrying about the next presidential election is because of God’s great, magnificent, incomprehensible…..mercy. Like Jesus tells us in His sermon on the mount:
He [God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous
And so I pray,
Lord, it is not because of my righteousness that I can cry “Abba Father” but because of your great mercy that you have adopted me as your daughter.
Lord, it is because of your great mercy, that you shed your blood on Calvary. Because of the mercy you chose to have on us, your enemy.
Meditating further on verses 17-19 as a whole:
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.”
A desolate sanctuary. Under the new covenant we know that the sanctuary of God’s spirit is now within each believer. Crying out to God we can pray:
Lord, not because of our righteusness but because of your great mercy, not for our sake but for your glory I pray for the idols that threaten desolation within our temples (our lives) to fall down and break like the idol dagon broke before the ark of the covenant. Lord open our eyes to see, sift our hearts and show us any sin or false god within our hearts or lives. Heavenly Father we pray for all idols to fall down and break before the covenant we have with You as your people. For you alone are God and there is none other. You alone are Savior as you proclaim in Isaiah 45:22
22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.
We can also pray and petition on behalf of the spiritually desolate cities within the United States, pray for your city, pray for our nation, which bears the name of the Lord. Having lived in Japan for four years I came to realize that when the majority of foreigners think of the United States they think of Christians. In fact when I made Japanese friends they often found it to be no surprise that I was Christian since I was an American. They simply figured that the reason I was a Christian was because of my nationality. They were surprised to find out that no, it was because Christ first loved me and of what he’d done in my life. Their perception is also in part because, at least in Japan, the majority of citizens worship Buddha and/or their ancestors because of their culture so they figure the same applies to Americans. As Americans we may not think of our nation bearing God’s name, especially as it stands today. But to much of the world the God of Christianity is the God of the United States.
As we pray and cry out to the Lord we remember that we cry out not because of any righteousness of our own or of our church or of our nation but because of God’s great mercy, and not for our sake but for God’s glory. We come before him recognizing His authority and dominion, we are his servants, it is all about Him. Join in the prayer Daniel brought before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords during his fast:
19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act!
or with emphasis added:
Lord, listen…because of your great mercy!
Lord forgive…because of your great mercy!
Lord hear and act…because of your great mercy!
All for the glory of God the Father, so that the nations may turn and behold You in great awe and wonder, our beautiful Savior. Praise the Lord!