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Prayers of the Prophets – Lesson 5: Confession

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

Scripture Reading: Daniel 9:1-19

While the book of Jeremiah’s “lamentations” focused upon the pain and oppression that fell upon Judah during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 focuses upon Judah’s need for inner change. Daniel cries out for God’s forgiveness, and pleads for the Almighty’s help in restoring obedience and holiness to Judah.

This prayer of confession shows this prophet’s true heart toward Judah’s sin. He openly admits that Judah is in exile in Babylon because of their rebellion toward God. Daniel also recognizes the integrity of God in bringing the judgment upon His people. From Daniel’s confession we should learn that the LORD is a merciful God, but He means what He says!

Concerning the mystery of God’s nature, Paul taught the Roman Church: “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” (Romans 11: 22-23) Yes, God is a good and merciful God, but He is also a holy God, and can’t compromise His own perfect nature with sin. Sin and disobedience carry the consequences of separation and death. We are likewise warned today, “For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation …? (Heb. 2:2-3a). To be saved, we must confess and forsake sin! This we can only do with God’s help–but isn’t this His promise?

Lesson Questions

  1. What significance does Daniel’s opening statement have to his prayer of confession? Dan. 9:3-4; 2:20; Matt. 6:9-10.
  2. Describe the specific parts of Daniel’s confession of sin. Daniel 9:5-6,10-11a.
  3. What did Daniel say that Judah’s unfaithfulness has earned them? Daniel 9:7-8. Note: It is an embarrassing and shameful experience to have our sins uncovered. Many people are only sorry that their sins have been revealed, but not sorry for their sins. To repent of sin also means to forsake those sins and turn to righteousness with the help of God.
  4. What did the prophet sorrowfully admit was the result of Judah’s rebellion? Dan. 9:11-12; Lam. 2:13; Deut. 28:15, 36-37, 45-46. Note: In any sincere confession, it is necessary to accept responsibility for the consequences of sin that have come upon us. We must not blame God or get angry with Him when our rebellion produces calamity.
  5. What was the resulting attitude of them who received severe judgment? Dan. 9:13-14; Isaiah 9:13.
  6. After confessing his sin and the sins of Judah, what things did Daniel plead for? Dan. 9:15-19.
  7. How is our relationship with God affected by our sin? Isaiah 59:1-2,12-15; 64:7.
  8. What happens to those who fail to confess their sins? Provo 28:13; Psalm 32:8-10; I John 1:8-10; Rom 6:16, 23.

Life Application

Illnesses can often be linked to sin. Apostle James points this out in James 5:13-16. Here we are instructed to “confess our faults” (better translated trespasses or sins) to each other, in order for us to be healed. In Jesus’ time the idea that sickness was always a judgment for the sin in someone’s life was taken to an extreme – every sick person was criticized as a sinner. This was erroneous. However, the Bible also teaches that some healing can be done only after we have confessed and repented of our sins. When seeking healing, this is important to consider.