“The promises of God are like moulds into which we pour our prayers like liquid metal” Tim Chester, The Message of Prayer
There is something inside the human psyche that is driven to prayer. We pray because we are overwhelmed by the enormity of a task, and equally we pray in response to the beauty of a moment. We pray when we feel weak, or limited, and in times of desperation. We pray.
To be human is to pray, and yet so often when we pray, there’s this nagging doubt. Particularly if you pray regularly, “does prayer make a difference? Does God care about my prayers?”
In Daniel 9, the exile Daniel prays to God for the return of his people to Jerusalem. It’s an audacious prayer given the people have been in exile for 70 years. Yet, he prays with confidence.
His prayer is birthed from trust in God to keep the promise made through the prophet Jeremiah, that the exiles would return around this time.
Jeremiah 29: 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
Yet, as Daniel prays, it is apparent that as much as he is aware of the promise of God, he is also aware of the unfaithfulness of the people. He outlines how undeserving they are of such restoration. In fact, as you read his prayer it’s clear that he has no confidence that God should listen to him or grant his request on the basis of their righteousness.
Yet, his conviction that his prayer is heard, considered and answered is shown correct by the end of chapter 9, when the angel Gabriel appears in a vision with the news that God has heard his prayer.
Where did Daniel’s confidence come from? Not his righteousness, nor that of his people past or present. Not because of the eloquence of his prayer. Rather, he understands that God keeps His promises, and is always true to His character.
He understood that God is the God of mercy.
Daniel 9: 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
That is why his prayer is heard. That is why your prayers and mine are heard. God cares. Our prayers are heard and considered because God is concerned about us, in the way a parent is for a child. The word translated as mercy can mean compassion, mercy or even tender mercies. It conveys feeling something deeply for another. That is how God feels about us. Knowing this, Daniel prays.
Next time you pray, do so with the confidence of Daniel. Praying knowing that you are heard, not because you are righteous, but because God is the God of mercy.