In the last post, I brought up the problem I experience about praying for the Church during the Last Days. How does one pray for a Church that will, that must, go into apostasy or rebellion—because that is what will happen before Jesus returns (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

When one intercedes for a Church destined for apostasy, a tendency may arise in us to pray in terms of “us” and “them”—the apostate folks and those who are not. The pray-er, of course, does not consider himself an apostate. However, this presents a problem. Who are these apostates, after all? What criteria must they meet?

Well, there are some basic truths that dynamite should never move us from, the most essential of which are that we are saved by grace through faith in the redeeming sacrifice and subsequent conquering resurrection of Jesus. However, it’s not always as clear cut as that, is it? In fact, today we actually have to define what salvation and resurrection mean, biblically. Who, in the Church, possesses true, biblical, faithful salvation? Unless you have first-hand knowledge of certain individuals or “believers” in your life who have actively denied these saving truths, you really don’t have a clue.

So, we return to the question. What is the wise way to pray for the Church in these Last Days?

One of the truths that will lead us to answer this question is how Jesus taught us to pray. Notice that the Lord’s Prayer begins with “Our Father.” Jesus did not delineate between people in His prayer. It is true that the Lord is my Father. He chose me and saved me by His grace. He is also the Father of countless believers.

Notice how many times the words “our” and “us” appear in the Lord’s Prayer:

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts or trespasses as we forgive those who have sinned against us.

Do not lead us into temptation.

Deliver us from evil.

There is no division between “us” and “them.”

This is very helpful. Thinking of the Church this way helps keep us from pride and self-righteous exclusivism.

So, when I pray, I often say, “Our Father, You are not just my Father, You are our Father.” And, “I join my voice in praise with the saints in heaven and on the earth.” And, “Thank you for making me one of Your many sons and daughters.”

I do this to help me because I tend to move too easily toward “us” and “them.”

The ninth chapter of Daniel echoes the Lord’s heart expressed in Jesus’ teaching on how to pray. Daniel, as you may know, had been taken to Babylonia along with captive Judah because they had rebelled against the Lord. While he was there, he began to perceive “…in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years” (Daniel 9:2). 1

The seventy years of captivity was drawing to a close.

Did Daniel rejoice?

Strangely, he did not. Instead, he sought God “…by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes (Daniel 9:3).

I don’t usually post long portions of Scripture, because I know that we usually do not have the time or patience to read them. However, it is monumentally important that we study how people prayed in the Bible because they can teach us how to pray. This prayer should be significant to us because Daniel interceded for God’s people who had rebelled against Him. We can learn from him. As you read, take note of Daniel’s precious heart concerning his love for His God and his people. Please notice as you read how Daniel prays for “us,” not “them,” which he certainly could have done.

“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 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. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name” (Daniel 9:4–20).

We will discuss this prayer in more detail in the next post.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.