Key Verse: “O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
—Daniel 9:19, New International Version
DANIEL KNEW FROM JEREMIAH’S prophecy that the desolation of Jerusalem would last for seventy years. (Dan. 9:1,2; Jer. 25:4-14; 29:10) However, he was concerned that the sins of the Israelites, even during their captivity, might have made them unworthy to be set free at the end of the seventy years, so he earnestly prayed to God. (Dan. 9:3-15) Continuing his prayer, Daniel pleads with God: “Turn away your anger and wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. … We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. … For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”—vss. 16-19, NIV
One important lesson we can glean from Daniel’s example is our need to closely examine ourselves. We must acknowledge to God in prayer when we have disobeyed his principles either in our thoughts, our words, or our actions, and then seek forgiveness. The Apostle John wrote: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8,9, NIV) We can pray to our Heavenly Father, and ask for forgiveness for our sins, because of the “atoning sacrifice” of his son, Christ Jesus.—I John 2:1,2, NIV
An obedient faith also requires us to turn away from sin—that is, to repent. To repent means to think differently and to make amends, especially from the heart. Repentance is mentioned numerous times in the seven messages given to the church in the book of Revelation.—Rev. 2:5,16,21,22; 3:3,19
Paul explains in detail the need for us to change. “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, … as instruments of righteousness. … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey? … You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”—Rom. 6:13-18, NIV
If we have an obedient faith, we will daily scrutinize our thoughts and actions, to see whether or not they have been in accordance with God’s principles. When we find that we have sinned by not completely following his precepts, we should seek for forgiveness from the Heavenly Father in prayer. We then should strive to more carefully apply the word of God in our daily life.
Citing additional words from Paul, we read: “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who love in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. … We have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom. 8:5-13, NIV) May our prayers be not for selfish things, but rather that we might develop a more obedient faith.