Personal repentance is an important element in prayer. But there is also the need for corporate or community repentance. We live in a community. That community can be a simple as our family, but also includes our church congregation and also our nation. When there is sin within our community the effect is similar to the effect of our individual sin. To use the beaver’s dam illustration from last week, our collective sins form a dam, which can restrict the flow of the Holy Spirit.
We may not have participated in a particular sin of the community, but that does not mean that we are not responsible for confessing and asking for forgiveness from God. Daniel, the old Testament prophet, is an example of a man who understood the power of repentance for a group of people. In Daniel 9 we read…
In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. (Daniel 9:1-3)
Even though Daniel did not participate in the sins the nation of Israel had committed he, as part of the nation, recognized the sin and he went before the Lord, in repentance, as a representative of Israel. Sin and wrongdoing by the community (whether it be family, church or nation) builds up the dam, which can restrict the Spirit from flowing. But when we stand as a representative of our community in repentance the Lord removes the blockages and the Spirit can flow. Sometimes those sins can be 30,40 or even 50 or more years old and those who were directly involved may have passed away or moved to a new area, but the effect and consequence of sin remains.
Maybe it’s time to ask the Lord to show you what is hindering the Spirit’s work and what needs to be brought forward in repentance both personally and for our community so that the dam can be removed and the life giving water of the Holy Spirit may flow.