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Or he could get vindictive. I stopped reading from Jeremiah, but the passage continues and describes some pretty awful things God is going to do to the Babylonians, and we could find Daniel getting pretty excited about seeing them punished. Bring it on, God! Get them! Smite them but good! But Daniel doesn’t do that. Instead, he does a very Lenten thing.
3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also wore rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes.
Interesting, don’t you think? I decided to jump ahead to Daniel 9 this week; we will come back to the earlier stories, just because there is such an incredible prayer of repentance here that I thought would be a great kick-off to our season of Lent. But I had no idea, until I got into it on Friday, how perfect it is. For lent. For us. We pray that God will guide our journey; this was huge proof to me that He is!
We just came through Ash Wednesday, and here I find Daniel. Not just with an ashen cross on his head; but covered. Immersed. And at prayer. Prayer near the end of exile; prayer knowing, believing, that the end of an extremely difficult and painful part of the story of the people of God was almost done. But it isn’t, yet. I actually laughed out loud when I read, near the end of Daniel’s prayer, his plea that God would smile again on your desolate sanctuary (9:17); just at the humor of God as we meet here in the school, half a block away from our own desolate sanctuary to which we will soon return.
We find Daniel repentant, personally, but more corporately. It is prayed by Daniel, but it is prayed on behalf of God’s people as a whole. He is interceding for the community; God calls us not only to individual repentance, but to corporate repentance. It is the, We have sinned, not just the I have sinned. And that is the tone of Daniel’s prayer.
It is not a prayer we need to study. It is not a prayer we need to dissect, line by line, in an effort to understand it. Rather, it is a prayer we need to pray so that is where we will go with it this morning. I will read it first and comment briefly, just so that we can own the words for ourselves as we speak them together, but the goal is going to be to pray it. Pastor Sue has written it into a litany for us to pray together, after we walk through it for understanding.
4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed:
O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! Daniel begins with a focus on God’s character; who God is; He does not start with himself or the people of Israel. This is always a wise way to begin – to whom are we speaking? the great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. God is faithful, and in a covenant relationship with us, grounded in unfailing love (or hesed). 5 But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. 6 We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land. The honest admission. No attempts to diminish, blame others, blame God. No I sinned but it was because of… There is strong language here: rebelled, scorned, refused
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