Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. (Dan 9:20-21 NKJ)
While speaking and praying, Daniel also confessed his sins and the sins of his people, a practice seen in other scriptures. Traditionally confession includes a cry for the mercy of God. The Greek phrase Kýrie, eléison, Lord, have mercy, was also a common response in prayer in the early days of the church, and in the Byzantine period, Kyrie became a sung chant. Today, confession is still part of the service in Mainline denominations, and in my church.
The biblical roots of this prayer first appear in Psalm 31:9,”Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble; My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body!” The prayer is simultaneously a petition and a prayer of acknowledgment of what God has done, doing, and will continue to do, and the result of sin on and in the human body. It is refined in the Parable of The Publican (Luke 18:9-14), “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
The lament in prayer appears to be a dying practice for today’s Christian. Have we forgotten that it is humility and not haughtiness that God is looking for? So as we speak the Word, pray and confess our sins, and the sins of our nation, let us ask the Lord, “in Your judgment remember mercy.”