Great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you . . . 

Awesome . . . Merciful . . . Covenant.   Doesn’t this sound like a strange way to begin a prayer of repentance?   And yet here is Daniel, confidently proclaiming God’s love before he starts confessing his sins and the sins of his people!

How could Daniel be so certain that God would forgive him?   Perhaps because he had history on his side.   Time after time, God had shown Daniel how much he treasured him.   He provided for his swift promotion through the ranks of a Gentile kingdom.   He saved him in the lion’s den and from a conspiracy to have him killed.   Clearly, God was committed to Daniel!

Daniel had no problem being honest about his sins and those of his people.   He didn’t keep anything a secret, even though he knew that justice wasn’t exactly on his side.   Having experienced God’s covenant of mercy over and over again and trusting that he was safe in God’s presence, he knew he could come clean before the Lord.

Is that the way you look at God?   If it isn’t—if instead you see him as critical and overbearing in his demands—you’ll either avoid coming to him, or you will be so bound in guilt that you’ll spend your whole prayer time confessing your sins and bemoaning your lack of faith.

Don’t fall into either trap!   Your heavenly Father is too good, too generous, for that!   Take Daniel as your model.   Believe that the God you are confessing to is a loving, merciful Father.   Recall his goodness to you over the years.   Think about Jesus’ willingness to endure the cross just so that you could be redeemed.   He wouldn’t go through all of that and then withhold his forgiveness, would he?

So go ahead and proclaim and trust in God’s mercy and love for you.   Go ahead and confess your sins to him.   You don’t have to fear condemnation.   Just keep Daniel’s words in the forefront of your mind, and you’ll do fine: “Yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness”.

Awesome, Merciful, and Covenant

word among us