We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. (Daniel 9:18 NIV)
My children usually begin a request for something by making a case. If you have kids, then you know what I mean. “Dad, since Kyle had a snack, can I have one?” Or, “You let Sienna stay up late last night, I should get to tonight.” It goes to show that we struggle with understanding grace. That is, we struggle with believing that anyone would give us anything unless it is justified. This is why we spend a great deal of our lives justifying why we deserve one thing or another. As annoying as it is to hear people try to justify why they deserve something, it is all the more heartbreaking when they don’t ask because they feel unworthy.
When Daniel prayed this prayer to God, he didn’t try to justify himself. He didn’t try to negotiate with God by saying something like, “If you will do this then I will do that,” or, “I think you owe me after the suffering that I have unjustly faced.” In fact, Daniel said things like:
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 fathers, and to all the people of the land. (Daniel 9:5-6 NIV)
I can’t imagine my kids coming in to ask for something and leading with, “Dad, I know you told me to clean my room but I played with my toys instead.” They don’t typically do that because it doesn’t build a strong case for why they deserve to get what they want. It doesn’t seem like good strategy to lead with a confession.
Confession can be scary. We may not want to admit our failings, or we may fear that judgement is the only proper response to our failings. In either case, getting what we desire is not typically expected after a confession. So we try to negotiate, the way we would with a prosecutor and a lawyer. Or we simply refuse to ask because we don’t believe we deserve it. This is where the grace of God so often transcends our understanding.
God doesn’t offer anything because we deserve it. He pours out his grace and mercy simply because He loves to. He wants to breathe life into yours. He wants you to be blessed and to become a blessing into this world. Not on the condition that you deserve it first, but as a gift of grace; something you didn’t earn. This is the petition of Daniel: “Not because we deserve it, but because you are gracious.”
God loves you even more than I love my own kids (…and I’m a pushover. Just ask my wife.) Don’t wait until you think you deserve His blessing, if you do, you’ll never ask and probably never get it. I was in a dark place when I asked Him for mercy. He hasn’t stopped pouring His grace out yet!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV)
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!