Listen, my God, and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city called by Your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion.
Daniel’s prayer is a powerful and passionate outcry to God, which falls into two main sections: loads of repentance, followed by big requests. In the second half, his requests are constantly qualified by declarations of "why You should answer this prayer?" The pattern we see is a big request followed by a big declaration of of truth which asserts why God should answer.
It may seem brash to declare something like this back to God in prayer. It certainly did for me the first few times I came along to pre-service prayer at Re:Hope. If you have joined us for prayer before the services you will know that we end with answering a simple question: "Why should God answer these prayers?"
As we see here with Daniel - and in prayers throughout the scriptures - reinforcing big truths in our prayers about who God is, will keep our hearts right, as well as underpinning our requests. God has revealed to us that He is ‘abundantly compassionate’, and He loves to hear it back from us!
So let us look at the big truth that Daniel uses here, and ask ourselves some questions 'For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion.'
1. Are you ‘banking’ good works so you can afford a big prayer?
Maybe you do not think you have done enough ‘good stuff’ to earn a big prayer request yet. Or perhaps you are in a place of frustration with God because you are not seeing an answer which you feel you have earned.
It is such a simple trap to fall into, bargaining with God for an answer: “If I do this, then please do that”. Or, even more demanding, “I’ve done this, now you hold up your side and do that!”
Take a minute to search your heart and see if you fell into this trap. If so, pray for that lie to be completely stamped out. Come to God in prayer, not bargaining with what you have done, but resting on who God is.
2. Have you given up on big requests because you are not good enough?
If our prayers were based on our ‘righteous acts’, then I think I would have to give up on it entirely; surely I do not have enough good works banked up for even the most feeble prayer request?
The great truth is that prayer - even extraordinary life transforming, nation changing, mountain shifting prayer - is not reserved for the ultra religious and ultra holy. Keep praying those big prayers, not because of what you have done, but because of who God is.
3. Are you underpinning your prayers with big God truths?
The truth that is demonstrated in Daniel’s prayer is simple: our prayers are not based on works, but on who God is. It is not by our works, but by His grace.
As you pray today, try declaring this to your Father. It will remind your heart of this simple truth and help you avoid the traps I mentioned as well as laying a powerful foundation for your requests.