Prayer is the highest form of human spirituality toward God. All human prayers should be self-reflective in the sense that they express our self-consciousness as thinking people and self-determined individuals. The language of our prayers is the articulation of our own struggle with language itself and our commitment toward God to whom we expose our naked soul.
I like reading people’s prayers recorded in the Bible to learn about how individuals voice their concerns, complaints, and worries to God. Prayers often instruct us about the vulnerability of human existence and the importance of relying on the Almighty God, and not to trust in our own resources and power, to get through life on our own. I read prayers in the Bible to remind myself about my own weaknesses and the fragility of my life, in other words, to keep me humble and not to grow into a lifestyle of self-arrogance and self-sufficiency. Oh sovereign and gracious God, we need Thee. Every hour. Every minute. Every moment. We need You!
One of my favorite prayers in the Bible is found in Daniel 9
“2 In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.
So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands,
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.
“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame–the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you.
O LORD, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.
The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;
we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets.
All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you.
You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem.
Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth.
The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.
“Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong.
O Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our fathers have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.
“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary.
Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill–
while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.
He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.
–Daniel 9: 2-22