Daniel's Prayer for Forgiveness

Leanne VanDyk

READ : Daniel 9:1-10
Daniel 9:17-19

Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, . . . we have sinned and done wrong . . . (vv. 4-5)

This beautiful and heartbreaking prayer is one of stark contrasts. Daniel has just learned that the exile of his people will continue yet for some time in the future. This is so overwhelmingly sad that he turns to God for sustaining mercy. The prayer acknowledges that all the things that have happened to him and his fellow exiles are appropriate because of their sin. It also declares the greatness and goodness of God. Daniel uses one of the most famous words in the Hebrew Bible in this prayer: the word for “righteousness.” Daniel says, “Righteousness is on your side, O Lord.” The word righteousness includes not only the idea of divine justice, but also God’s mercy and compassion, longsuffering and holiness; in fact, it includes all the characteristics of God that call out of us our best worship.

“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God,” Daniel begins. He goes on to list all the faults of the people and all the greatness of God. But in the middle of these stark contrasts, Daniel finds the perspective to sink his own roots in God. His own identity, and his people’s identity, is forever linked with Israel’s Lord. And all his hope is found in God.

PRAYER

“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay!” Amen. (v. 19)