Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Prayer for America

If lately you have been tempted to pray, "Lord, please make my 401k grow," or "Lord, please make sure those rascals in the other party lose in November," or "Lord, please keep America the greatest nation on earth," let me suggest a more excellent prayer, taken from the ninth chapter of Daniel.  If such a prayer was good enough for Daniel, a man "beloved" by God (9:23), and for God's chosen people, surely it ought to be good enough for us.

O Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your covenant and show mercy
toward those who love you and keep your commandments and your precepts!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and turned from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our ancestors, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel,
near and far, in all the lands to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are ashamed, like our kings, our princes, and our ancestors,
for having sinned against you.
But to the Lord, our God, belong compassion and forgiveness,
though we rebelled against him
and did not hear the voice of the LORD, our God,
by walking in his laws given through his servants the prophets.
The curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, the servant of God,
were poured out over us for our sins,
because all Israel transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to hear your voice.
He fulfilled the words he spoke against us and against those who ruled us,
by bringing upon us an evil;
no evil so great has happened under heaven as happened in Jerusalem.
As it is written in the law of Moses, this evil has come upon us.
We did not appease the LORD, our God,
by turning back from our wickedness and acting according to your truth,
so the LORD kept watch over the evil and brought it upon us.
The LORD, our God, is just in all that he has done:
we did not listen to his voice.

Now, Lord, our God,
who led your people out of the land of Egypt with a strong hand,
and made a name for yourself even to this day,
we have sinned, we are guilty.
Lord, in keeping with all your just deeds,
let your anger and your wrath be turned away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain.
On account of our sins and the crimes of our ancestors,
Jerusalem and your people have become the reproach of all our neighbors.
Now, our God, hear the prayer and petition of your servant;
and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine upon your desolate sanctuary.
Give ear, my God, and listen;
open your eyes and look upon our desolate city upon which your name is invoked.
When we present our petition before you,
we rely not on our just deeds, but on your great mercy.
Lord, hear! Lord, pardon! Lord, be attentive and act without delay,
for your own sake, my God,
because your name is invoked upon your city and your people!
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