The Intercessory Work of Prayer
Daniel 9: 4 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, 5 we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. 6 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.
The people of God had broken their covenant relationship by way of their disobedience and the result was seventy years in exile. Daniel, a man of great faith, found himself reflecting upon all that had transpired and his heart broken by the infidelity of his own people. With great humility he turned to prayer and interceded on behalf of his people.
Daniel repented for the peoples’ failure to live in covenant relationship with God. He took upon himself their guilt, as if he himself had been unfaithful. It is in this action that he reflects the very heart of God. Because of his intimate relationship with God he began to take on the characteristics of God.
Daniel recognizes that God is to be feared, but also trusted. In this place of prayer he made confession for his own people. The people were guilty of sin and this had become the barrier to the covenantal relationship and now it was in need of restoration. This would come about by way of repentance and confession and while the entire community did not join Daniel in this prayer, his intercession on behalf of his people was instrumental in the restoration of the covenantal relationship between the Israelites and Yahweh. The prayers of confession expressed the guilt of God’s people and a genuine desire for restoration.
It’s easy to point fingers at others whom we may think have done something wrong. We seem to be able to identify the weaknesses in others before noticing what may be happening in our own personal lives.
I remember years ago being challenged by the words of Oswald Chambers who reminds us that God doesn’t allow us to see the weaknesses of others so that we can be critical, but so that we will know how to pray! Daniel saw the weaknesses of his people and he went to prayer. The time in exile and the faithfulness of a few became a turning point in the lives of God’s people. They returned home as a people committed to worshipping the one true God.
Daniel reveals the very heart of God in his prayer. He knew that intercession was not just about putting yourself in the place of the person needing prayer, but reflecting the place of God in prayer.
What has broken your heart? What has frustrated you about the people of God and left you critical? As we draw closer to our holy God and reflect him more and more in our lives we take on his nature. No longer can we be critical, but our hearts will break and we will intercede on behalf of the needs of those surrounding us. This is the work of intercessory prayer.
Lord, please help me to learn to intercede from your heart. Amen.
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