“As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.” Daniel 9:13 (Read Daniel 9)
Have you ever known a church or a church body to admit and confess its sin and seek the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness? Even though they may not claim it to be so, the attitudes and actions of church bodies often give the appearance that they count themselves infallible in their official actions.
Consider what happened to the visible church in the Old Testament — to God’s people Israel. They turned aside from following after the LORD God and from His Word and commandments. Again and again, God warned them and called upon them to repent, but did they heed God’s Word spoken to them by the prophets? Finally, God’s judgments spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy (see Deut. 28:15ff.) and by the prophets came true and the land was made desolate, the temple and Jerusalem destroyed and the people scattered among the nations.
Daniel recognized from the Scriptures that God was righteous and that it was his own people who had sinned and brought all this evil upon themselves. Thus, He prayed that God would have mercy and forgive the sins of his people and that, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10; 2 Chron. 36:21f.), God would restore them to their land and to true worship and service of God.
How true this is today as well! Not only have we and God’s people sinned as individuals, but we have also sinned as churches and church bodies in departing from the Word of the Lord and from true worship and service to the LORD God who has both created and redeemed us!
Instead of faithfully proclaiming God’s Word and calling all to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world, we have failed to preach God’s Law in all its severity and His Gospel in all its sweetness, leaving people with the false belief that God is satisfied with our own righteousnesses rather than directing people to the only righteousness which avails before God — that which is imputed to us through faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Tit. 3:3-7; Phil. 3:8-9; Rom. 3:19-26).
And, when it comes to teaching all that Christ has commanded us (Matt. 28:19-20), we have often neglected to hold fast to every article of Christian doctrine, conforming to the world and popular opinion rather than following Christ our head and holding fast to His Word (cf. Eph. 5:22ff.; Rom. 12:1-2).
In Daniel, we have a beautiful example — an example for us to follow in regard to our prayers and petitions to the Lord God. We pray, acknowledging not only our sins as individuals but our corporate sins as a congregation, as Lutherans, as members of Christ’s visible church in this world, even as a nation. We confess our sins and pray that God would pardon our sins and turn us from our iniquities and to a right understanding of His truth (cf. 2 Chron. 7:14). We pray for His mercy in Christ Jesus!
O LORD God, have mercy upon us, upon our churches and upon our nation. We have sinned in turning aside from Your Word and from Your salvation in Christ Jesus. You are righteous; we have gone astray. Pardon our sin and restore us to a right understanding of Your truth, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.