17 March 2014

Daniel 9:4-10

“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances.” (vv. 4-5)


Daniel has recently had a vision that described the end of time which he did not understand. He became so perturbed by the content of this vision, which the Angel Gabriel came to help interpret for him, that he became ill and depressed. Out of this depression comes a heartfelt longing to make amends for his wrongdoings and that of the people (Daniel 8:15-27).

Daniel's confession begins with acknowledging the nature of his relationship with God describing it as being covenantal, which God holds with all the people who love God and keep God's commandments. So he establishes the parameters of those in relationship with God and the kind of relationship that they should have. There is emphasis on rules and regulations (the commandments) which to us may sound rather controlling of the relationship. However this probably helps Daniel assess the failings of the people on whose behalf he is making this confession.

I notice how Daniel is speaking on behalf of others and this resonates for me with those who do this for us today. Near Marble Arch in London is a religious community who are hidden away in isolation. Their members spend their days in prayer to God to whom they are ever faithful in their prayer life, much like Daniel. There was a time when religious communities were far more plentiful in both size and quantity. I remember feeling how good it was that these hubs of prayer were there for us and the world, confessing and acting for good in the way they were gifted to do on behalf of us all. People are called by God to be faithful in prayer, just as God is faithful in "steadfast love" towards us.

To Ponder

  • Prayer can be seen as linking us all between heaven and earth. What religious communities are near you? You may wish to reflect on their role in your local community and how much you know about them.
  • Like most aspects of our relationship with God confession is but a part. How much is confession a part of your prayer life? How helpful do you find it or not?
  • Our faithful God delights in our constancy and the ongoing creation which we can encourage. Consider how your prayer life may reflect this. 

Bible notes author

Margaret Sawyer

Margaret Sawyer has worked for the Methodist Connexional Team for ten years, first as connexional secretary for Women's Network and then as the Church's equality and diversity officer. She now works to support preaching and worship in her local circuit and district.