Self-righteous praying has no power before God. – Dr. David F. Nixon
My study of Daniel 9 brought a keen sense of conviction. I better explain. Daniel walked close to God as a man of integrity having strong convictions for which he would not compromise even when Narcissistic Nebuchadnezzar demanded he bow down. The Lord, his God, delivered him from a den full of hungry lions and in C.10 we find out why. Daniel was “greatly treasured” meaning he was “very precious to God” (10:10 NLT). Daniel included confession in his praying. Could that be why he was so precious to God? God loves us! So write your name in place of Daniel’s, resting assured of His love. Daniel also humbled himself through fasting. Just when we need it the most, God allows us to write our name into His living, active Word to receive His promise as if He were making it just for us!
SO HOW DID DANIEL PRAY? Daniel’s prayer begins with CONFESSION: “As I prayed to the Lord my God, I made this confession…” (9:4). What struck me about his prayer was how often Daniel used inclusive words: “We,” not them, those people, but WE, US, OUR. I have a confession of my own. I have struggled whenever asked to pray prayers of confession for things I didn’t feel guilty I was guilty of. But the Spirit convicted me of just how SELF-RIGHTEOUS such an attitude is. The Spirit gently corrected me, “If you can’t say ‘WE’ you’re no better than the Pharisee who “stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” (Matt.18:11).
I REPENTED and thanked Holy Spirit for this new light on a longstanding pattern. Self-righteous praying has no power before God. Daniel used “WE” confession INCLUDING HIMSELF AT LEAST 20 TIMES in the first 15 verses before asking God for a single thing. “WE have sinned and done the wrong thing” (9:15). What might happen if WE quit praying against them, those, and theirs, and started praying US, OUR, WE PRAYERS? How many of our prayers are against rather than for?
Daniel shows us A BETTER WAY TO PRAY. I know he prayed for Jerusalem, but a living, active Word (Heb. 4:12), allows us at times, just when we need it the most, to write our name in the place of Jeremiah, David, and Daniel. So it is not a stretch for me to insert our country in place of what is there. “My Lord, please! In line with your many righteous acts, please turn your raging anger from (America), which is your (country)… Because of OUR sins and the wrongdoing of OUR parents, both (my city) and your people have become a disgrace to all OUR neighbors. But now, OUR God, listen to your servant’s prayer and pleas for help. Shine your face on your ruined (churches), for your own sake, my Lord.” “Open your ears, my God and listen! Open your eyes and look at our devastation. Look at the city called by your name! WE pray OUR prayers for help to you, not because of any righteous acts of OURS but because of your great compassion. My Lord, listen! My Lord, forgive! My Lord, pay attention and act! Don’t delay! My God, do all this for your own sake, because (our cities) and your people are called by your name” (9:15-19).
This is how KINGDOM PATRIOTS should pray. “Daniel prayed as a patriot – but a patriot more of the Kingdom of God than the Kingdom of Israel (America).” Praying such prayers, John Wesley said, “takes us beyond a ‘sweet hour of prayer’ into a profound awareness of God’s goodness and painful confession of our sin until we hear the often disturbing and always challenging word of God for our world.” WE NEED GOD’S FACE TO SHINE UPON US AGAIN (see also Ps. 80:19). Just maybe He is waiting for Kingdom patriots (US) to get off OUR self-righteous high horses and on OUR faces making “WE” confessions. WE, His Church, need a thousand things, but WE can bundle them all into one if WE say, “YOUR CHURCH NEEDS HER GOD.” We really do, Lord. Now more than ever before.
Former District Superintendent Emeritus at Southern Florida District Church of the Nazarene, accomplished author of several books, and a church comeback pastor.