i prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “o Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. [daniel 9:4-5]
we have sinned
we have learned that daniel was one who loved God, spent hours in prayer, and lived an amazing life of righteousness. yet now as he prays a prayer of confession for his people, who have ‘done wrong’, ‘acted wickedly’ and turned away from God’s commandments, he includes himself.
why does daniel pray ‘we have sinned’ and not ‘they’? how can this be?
in spite of his amazing life, his gift of dream interpretation, his visions of the future, and his boldness in the face of evil, daniel knew that he was not perfect. he understood that as his people sinned, he was affected.
daniel could have easily prayed for ‘those people’ to get themselves together and be more like him, right? daniel lived a life that stands as an example to us thousands of years later, with no evidence of any of the sin he confesses here. so he was better than others, right?
daniel knew that he was not the standard, but the ‘great and awesome God’. he did not look down on others, or compare his deeds to theirs. Instead, daniel compared all of us to a perfect, infinite, almighty God and saw that we are all lacking.
this practice is seen in other old testament prophets such as ezra (ezra 9-10), and nehemiah (nehemiah 1:4-7). These powerful Godly leaders included themselves in the sin that plagued their community. this was not some kind of false humility – it was an acknowledgement before God that even though they had done participated in the sin, they were impacted by all the sin that affected God’s covenant people.
when we see sin growing around us, it is easy to point the finger.
let us instead strive to pray as daniel, forgiving those who mean us harm, confessing our sin as a community, and like Jesus taught us, ‘and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’.
~ jason soroski