There is no evidence in Scripture that the prophet Daniel was anything but godly. He was a wise man with a high level of integrity and spiritual acumen. Yet, when he prayed he identified himself fully with his people and their sins. Daniel was not one to exult in his own private faith while railing against the sins of others. Instead, when sin abounded he practiced lament. When Judah landed in exile Daniel did not complain about getting a bum rap from God because he himself was not like the others. Daniel did not try and claim the moral high ground and distance himself from his fellow Jews. Notice how Daniel’s prayer of confession is a very “we” thing:
“We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name…. To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you…. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice.”
At the beginning of this season of Lent, let us as God’s people realize our mortality, our dependence upon God, our sinfulness, and our desperation for the Lord. Let us lay aside all pretensions to godliness and confess our sins together. Grace can only really be received by being profoundly in touch with our private and corporate complicity in the sins and abuses of the world.
Gracious God, hear our prayer. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed in those things we have done and the things we have left undone. Yet, your mercy is eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.