Frequently, prayer assumes a self-centered posture. Believers present their wish lists before God, hoping to get that which they ask for. Though, of course, we are told to set our petitions before God, sometimes our motives are not pure. After all, are not our hearts corrupt, wicked, and deceitful? Might not our prayers, at times, simply reflect the sinfulness that lies within?
Intercessory prayer, however, focuses on another person’s needs, thus removing the likelihood of selfish motivation. Throughout history, intercessory prayers have represented the highest expressions of spiritual discourse. Untainted by the desire for personal gratification, these conversations demonstrate selflessness, compassion, and earnest longing for the salvation of others.
Read Daniel 9:2-19. What burdens Daniel throughout this prayer? What role does confession play within the prayer? Because of advanced age, Daniel would not likely personally benefit from Jerusalem’s restoration. Therefore, what motivated this prayer?
Seventy years have passed since Jeremiah uttered the prophecy that Daniel now considers. After so many years, Daniel’s Jerusalem friends have likely already perished. Jerusalem’s restoration would not restore Daniel’s personal fortunes, either. Nothing in Daniel’s prayer suggests selfish concerns. The ancient prophet expressly implores God regarding the future of the exiled Jewish nation and the reputation of Jehovah Himself. Extended confession precedes his requests. In confession Daniel includes himself among the disobedient. The prophet is unwilling to presume his own innocence. Daniel himself takes responsibility while primarily pursuing restoration in order to benefit others.
Think about your prayer life: what you pray for, why, and for whom. How much death to self is involved in it? How can you learn to be less self-centered in your prayer life? That is, how can your prayers, even the ones for yourself, be less selfish?