I almost titled this post "The Foundation of Prayer," almost... but that wouldn't have been very accurate, as I believe the foundation of our prayer is to honor God and give Him thanks and praise and worship. Making a request of God is one, very small part of prayer and a relationship with the Sovereign Lord.
Daniel states, in his prayer for his people (Daniel 9:1-19), "We do not ask because we deserve help, but because you are so merciful (v.18)." As I was reading that this morning, it hit me hard, because so many of my requests of God have come from a place in my heart that feels like I have earned something, but the cold reality, as I survey my life, is that I don't deserve anything that I have been given.
I believe that, unlike Daniel, many of today's American Christians petition God with all kinds of requests because they, like me, often feel as though they have earned the right to make a request of God and deserve to gain assistance from the Almighty. Also unlike Daniel, so many of us have to come to the harsh realization that we are undeserving of help and that the help we have been given comes from a place of more love than we could ever fathom. So much mercy and grace has been and is being poured out on us. If we were truly able to comprehend what has been done on our behalf, we would be so overcome with joy and appreciation that nothing could prevent us from sharing that with the world around us.
So what changed for Daniel? He studied and saw that his people had been given countless warnings about the path they were on, and the warnings became reality for the people. Throughout the book of Daniel, we see that he had complete faith in the LORD, but I believe that Daniel's experiences like the lion's den and so many of the others coupled with his knowledge of the scriptures and the history and experiences of the people of Israel helped him gain the understanding that he shows in this prayer.
All too often, I believe that too many of us get caught up in the idea of "the Gospel of Prosperity," meaning that because I practice Christian things God will give me riches and treasures, as I view riches and treasures, more in terms of dollars and possessions. While God sometimes does bless His people with those things, it doesn't always happen like that; when we are caught up in the gospel of prosperity, we are offended when we are not blessed with those things. This is why the verse in Daniel struck me so hard this morning, because it reminded me that I am not deserving of God's blessings, regardless of what they are, but that God is merciful and has chosen to bless me.
It reminds me of what a friend of mine in Kansas told me once when we were talking about being a good person. He said, "None of us are good; we are all wretched and horrible sinners who have been loved by a gracious Savior." I believe this to be a very true statement; it is often how I feel.
What reaction do you have when you hear the words of Daniel's prayer?