If our God was like the cruel gods of the Philistines, it wouldn’t do a whole lot of good to confess our sins. But our God is not so. Last time we looked at how Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9, and all true intercessory prayer, is characterized by confession. Today we look at the reason we should pray prayers of confession and intercession: God is worthy. Because of His character, He is a worthy God to seek forgiveness and help from.
Look at how Daniel appeals to God’s character:
Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments … (Daniel 9:4)
First of all, he acknowledges that God is “great.” That word can also be translated “powerful.” In other words, we pray to God because He is powerful enough to respond. He is not incapable of helping us. He can change circumstances however He wants to, and He has infinite resources at His disposal. He is the God of verse 15 who “brought His people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand.”
Secondly, our God is “awesome.” This refers to His majesty, or His worthiness to be honored and glorified. He is worthy of being sought in prayer.
Thirdly, our God “keeps His covenant.” He is a faithful God. When He makes a promise, He keeps it. And He made a covenant with His people to never forsake them, and to forgive them when they repented. And if they obeyed Him, He’d restore them. The Bible says that if our hearts are pure and our sins are set aside, and we call upon His name, He’ll respond to our call. We pray because we believe God has the power to fulfill it; because He is the most majestic one in the universe, and is worthy of our prayers; and because He is a faithful God who will keep His promises.
Notice also in Daniel 9:4 that it says God has “lovingkindness for those who love Him.” God forgives and helps us because He loves us. It is one thing for Him to be powerful, and it is something else for Him to be majestic. It is wonderful that He is faithful. But how marvelous it is that He is also loving!
We see another aspect of God’s character further down in Daniel’s prayer: “Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame” (Daniel 9:7). Our God is holy and perfectly righteous. He is incapable of sin or error. He never makes a mistake, never makes a foolish decision, and never blunders.
Look also at verse 9: “To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness.” On top of everything else that Daniel has observed about God’s character, he adds this all-important final characteristic: His willingness to forgive. In fact, in the original text the word “forgiveness” is plural. God has “forgivenesses.” I know I’ve needed forgiveness in the plural —haven’t you?
This is the God we seek in our prayers: powerful, majestic, faithful, loving, holy, and gracious. Now this is a lot to wrap our minds around, but God has given us a perfect image to look to that combines all of these aspects of God’s character. He has given us the cross.
As we look at the cross, we see God’s power, because on the cross Jesus conquered sin and death. And as we look at the cross, we see His majesty, because even as He appeared to be a victim of the Romans and the Jewish people, He was actually fully in control of everything that happened. He was so majestic, even while dying, that a watching centurion exclaimed in wonder, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
When we look at the cross, we see God’s faithfulness. We see that Jesus was willing to die for us because it was the only way to keep the promises God had made. Even though He agonized over this necessity in the Garden of Gethsemane, He kept his promise.
When we look at the cross, we see love. It shouldn’t have been Christ up there; it should have been us. But because He loved us, He took our place. And we see His holiness too, because He couldn’t just forgive sinners by decree. A price needed to be paid because sin is intolerable to Him and He requires a penalty for it. And we see His grace in that He chose to pay the price Himself, rather than leave us to suffer the consequences of our own sin.
You see, all that God is to Daniel, God is to us. And the beautiful insight we receive into God’s character through the cross is the very thing that drives us to prayer.
I’m so glad to pray to a God who is all-powerful. I’m so glad to pray to a God who is absolutely majestic and controls all the circumstances of the whole world. I’m so glad to pray to a God who is absolutely faithful to His children and who loves them. I’m so glad to pray to a God who is utterly and absolutely holy and will always do right. And I’m so glad to pray to a God who is gracious and willing to forgive over and over again. If this is our God, how could we not want to pray?
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