Lent 1, Friday, Year B

Inspired by Daniel 9:15-25a

“Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the city that bears your name. We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies.” Daniel 9:18 (NRSV)

When you pray, do you pray with expectation that your prayer will be answered? Such expectation is appropriate, but only when it flows from humility. The truth is that God owes us nothing. We have done nothing to deserve his favor. We can never be good enough, holy enough, pious enough, or zealous enough to deserve his patronage. We have no right to demand anything, or to expect anything from God in return for anything we have done. There is no quid pro quo, there is no mutually beneficial bargain that can be struck.

Yet we can still pray with expectation. Not because of the merit of our prayer or of the one who prays it, but because of the merit of the one to whom we are praying. God is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. For our sake he sent his only Son to die for us, and for his sake forgives us all our sins. We did nothing to deserve that, and can do nothing to repay that. But we can live forgiven and redeemed lives, because that redemption is based not on the worth of those who receive it, but on the worth of the one who gives it.

Let us pray. Merciful Lord, you have redeemed us for your own sake and for the sake of your Son. Grant us the humility to recognize the source of our salvation, that we may proclaim a gospel of abundant grace to all your people. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

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