The Oriental Institute Museum sits on the University of Chicago's campus in Hyde Park, Chicago. Inside it stands one of the great treasures of Babylon: The Striding Lion. According to archeologists, this brick work of art dates to the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and once adorned the pathway to the Ishtar Gate. While watching over the city, 120 of these lions led the way to the temple, a job that was especially important during the New Year's Festival, when people paraded there with statues of the gods. Knowing Daniel spent most of his life in Babylon and at the King's service, it is likely his eyes may have settled on what we look at today. Pretty amazing, right? Like this ancient work of art it is rare to have an ancient prayer recorded some 2,500 years ago, but we do. In this prayer of Daniel, it is evident how humble he is in the repeated confession of sin. Sunday, we emphasized that being trustworthy was not equal to being flawless. But is was being aware of what we choose to fill the gap with between expectations and experience. It is evident Daniel filled the gap with honesty and care in this prayer. If you ever wondered what a prayer sounded like from a trustworthy man, you don't have to wonder anymore. It is our prayer today.
Scripture: Daniel 9:4-19 (NIV)
The prayer below is taken directly from Scripture, Daniel 9:4-19. It is a prayer from Daniel, a trustworthy man, in response to learning the desolation of Jerusalem would last 70 years.
“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.
“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.
“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.
“Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.
“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”