Passage for the Day: Daniel 9:1-19
I suppose I had better start with a confession of my own. I would never have really appreciated this passage if I had not read about it in the book by John White I mentioned earlier. But having read about it there, it has stayed with me as the kind of model prayer we should have the courage to offer if we are serious about confession.
Unfortunately, the whole idea of confession is one that is all too often misunderstood. In the world of celebrity confession equates to the baring of your soul, presumably not only to make you feel better, but also to increase your profile. When a famous actress confesses all, what she is really doing is confessing those things that she chooses to reveal, without necessarily any sign of contrition or any indication of what she will do to make good the matter.
Then there is the political confession where all too often someone stands up and apologies for their conduct – not because, as far as we can make out, they are genuinely remorseful but because it is a necessary step to try and salvage your reputation, if not your career.
And what about the religious confession? Depending on your denomination, it might involve performing an act of penance and receiving absolution from a priest, or it might involve mumbling the words of a liturgy each week, as you frantically try and remember what you might have done wrong over the past seven days.
I am exaggerating of course. But so often we do confess in order to make ourselves better, or out of a sense of duty, or to fulfil our religious obligations. And that’s very different from the type of confession Daniel makes, which involves the offering of a broken heart to the Lord. That kind of confession is genuine and it takes the word of God seriously. And it is, I sense, the sort of confession we ought to make more often, if we are seeking after our God’s own heart and are trusting in the cross of Christ.