Daniel 9:18 We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
In contrast to David, who sometimes wrote of his personal righteousness, Daniel seems always to operate from a place of great humility. That’s all the more interesting when we consider that he had a place of high authority in the greatest empire of the day. What he states here is something we would do well to remember every time we pray: our prayers can never be on the basis of how good we are personally, but on the basis of God’s mercy and grace. That’s why it is such a big deal that we get to pray in Jesus’ Name. He alone, of every human being ever born, never sinned. We cannot pray on the basis of our own righteousness, but we get to pray on the basis of His, by faith. However, that can’t be presumptive, taking it all for granted. That attitude is all too common, and it is what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” It cost Jesus His life to give us the privilege of prayer in His Name, and we must never forget that. Daniel’s prayer is thus very Christian, though he didn’t know of Jesus. We are to keep our repentance up-to-date, never nursing any sin, but we must remember that our personal righteousness is as dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6); we are dependent on the righteousness of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:30) That’s not to say we are to be down on ourselves all the time, but rather that we are to have gratitude and joy at God’s incredible mercy toward us, and live in obedient response to that mercy.
This is something I have been growing into for almost 60 years, so I have no room to be down on anyone who is struggling with it. Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” is of vital importance. False humility places the focus on us, rather than God, just as much as pride does. I’ve got to let go of myself, good and bad alike, and cling only to Christ, and teach others to do the same. I am responsible for what I have been given and what I do with it, but I am to hold it in open hands, recognizing that it belongs to God and not to me. I am to be Christ’s representative indeed, (2 Corinthians 5:20) speaking and acting boldly in love, but never thinking that gives me greater value than the person to whom I’m ministering. I’ve got to remember that everything, always, is because of the mercy and grace of God.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the incredible privilege of acting as Your agent. Help me be faithful in that in every detail, not depending on my own wisdom but listening obediently to You always, so that Your will may be done in and through me on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!