In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus, by birth a Mede, who became king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah, must be fulfilled for the devastation of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying,
“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. 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.
“Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. Open shame, O Lord, falls on us, our kings, our officials, and our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by following his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
“All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. So the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against you. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers, by bringing upon us a calamity so great that what has been done against Jerusalem has never before been done under the whole heaven. Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us. We did not entreat the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and reflecting on his fidelity. So the Lord kept watch over this calamity until he brought it upon us. Indeed, the Lord our God is right in all that he has done; for we have disobeyed his voice.”
It was a different time and a different nation. Yet, the prayer that Daniel prayed is one that can be prayed by each generation and each nation.
Daniel’s prayer is called a prayer of confession. We can have shame upon our nation for we have sinned against God. From our rulers to even the ones reading this devotion, we all have sinned. Paul will even remind us in Romans that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.
As Methodist Christians, we realize the importance of repentance. For when we repent, we are responding to God’s prevenient grace.
Our confession of our sins, iniquities, and wickedness allows God to give us new birth through faith in Jesus Christ. It is hard to realize that we have brought calamity upon ourselves. Yet, thankfully, turning to God in faith we find the forgiveness that he has already prepared for us.
God, we are sinners here in America. We have not listened to you. Now, we are listening to you. We admit we have done wrong by you and our neighbors. Let us know your forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Amen.