In our recent leadership meetings, we were led to the book of Daniel. In Daniel, Chapter 9, Daniel prays an amazing prayer. God’s people were in captivity in Babylon because of their rebellion against God. Deuteronomy 28:36 says, ‘if the people forsake God and his ways, the Lord will bring you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you will serve other gods’. This had now become true.
In 1520, Martin Luther wrote a paper called ‘The Babylonian captivity of the church’. What he meant was that dark forces, foreign to Jesus Christ, had captured the heart and mind of the Church, and that was five hundred years ago, on October 31.
This could be likened to what is going on in much of the Church today. The behaviours and choices of many are absorbed from the worldly culture we live in, and not from the word of God. So often the Church shares the love affair of the world, with wealth, ease, and living for self. Many groups of Christians are just not that different from the world and have the ‘spirit of Babylon’, even though the scripture teaches us not to be conformed to the spirit of the age. There are little and large deceptions, departing from scripture, and compromise with the ungodliness of today’s culture. Like Israel of old, much of God’s Church today is captive in Babylon.
Daniel spends much of this prayer confessing the sins of the people, (verse 5), ‘We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled turning aside from your commandments’.
We know, as the people of God today, that we should be radically different, with values opposite to the culture we’re living in. In many places, the Church has made the name of Jesus an object of mockery by her duplicity, and that can make the world see the Church as irrelevant and out-dated.
When we read this prayer of Daniel today, we see it could be prayed all over again for the Christian Church in today’s world, held captive to godless powers of darkness, and a reproach in the world.
Daniel’s prayer starts with the word of God, and so should ours. Then Daniel confesses the sins and remembers past mercies. He’s encouraged that God never changes. Daniel knew that the reason God brought His people out of Egypt was for His own name’s sake. Let’s pray for the true Church today by remembering God’s mercies and past triumphs of grace, for His name’s sake.
Daniel’s prayer comes to a climax in verses 18-19, ‘We do not present our supplications before you on the grounds of our righteousness, but on the grounds of your great mercy ... and because your city and your people are called by your name’.
God has a zeal for His name. He won’t allow it to be mocked and blasphemed indefinitely. God has a passion for the glory of His name and the truth of His reputation. So that is what we can learn from Daniel’s prayer. We’re called by His name, and we live by His name. ‘Not to us O Lord not to us but to your name give Glory’.
Prayer: For Your name’s sake, O Lord, save and heal. Empower and purify Your Church, which is in a form of Babylonian captivity. O Lord, hear us, because we’re called by Your name, and You said You’d build Your Church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Please come and set us free from deception and compromise in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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