You won’t usually hear me saying that the sky is about to fall. Although I may have some prophetic gifting, it’s not usually in the doom-and-gloom category. And I generally don’t get energized over political gossip. But the other day my nation did something that made me righteously mad. We blatantly called evil good and good evil, and we tried to impose that twisted viewpoint on another nation.
I try not to fume about politics (see God’s Hands Are Not Tied, April 30, 2014). But I just could not get this thing off my mind. Still, ranting about it to other people doesn’t help, and stewing in my own juices doesn’t either, so I decided to pray.
At first I didn’t know how to pray. It didn’t seem as if “Make them stop this evil” was the right prayer—the deed had already been done. I didn’t want to pray judgment on them, either. Judgment is God’s department, not mine. I did pray for mercy for the nation affected by this action. But I knew there had to be more.
How do I pray about this, God?
Right away the Holy Spirit brought to mind one of my favorite Old Testament Bible guys, Daniel. Daniel lived in the Babylonian empire under a government that was notorious for making evil decisions. He was part of the nation of Israel that was famous for rebelling against God. But you never find Daniel ranting about bad political decisions or railing against wicked and foolish people. Instead, he prayed. And he not only interceded, he repented for sins he did not personally commit!
Though Daniel was a righteous man—one of the few men and women in the Bible about whom no specific sin is mentioned!—he included himself in his confession. He didn’t repent for “their” sin—he repented for “our” sin. Here’s a portion of his prayer:
Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 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. Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame . . . because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. (Daniel 9:4-8)
Daniel wasn’t a king or a prince, but he confessed the sins of his kings and princes. So I tried to follow his example. I confessed the sins of my “kings and princes.” Although I have not sinned in the exact way my leaders most recently have, as I interceded and repented on their behalf, I was convicted of my own sins—pride, self-righteousness, apathy, and willful blindness. I am not above my leaders. I am a sinner, too. Like them, I also need God’s forgiveness and mercy.
By the time I was done my anger had melted away—which is good because too easily my “righteous anger” can turn into self-righteous cockiness. I still felt sad, however. But I think that’s actually okay because that sadness prompts me to pray, in a humbler way than my anger ever could have. And God is more likely to pay attention to a humble prayer than a proud one.
After Daniel prayed his prayer of humble repentance and intercession, God sent an angel to him with an incredible word of encouragement: “Since the first day that you set your mind . . . to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them” (10:12). How I’d love someday to hear God say words like that in response to my prayers!