Ezra begins his prayer with “I” and “my.” He then switches to the plural.
“OUR” is found 15 times in the next 5 verses.
Ezra 9:6 …O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
There are two subjects here that I want you to see:
First, Identificational Repentance
Ezra 9:6–7 …O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
Identificational Repentance is when someone identifies, in some way, with the sin of others. Ezra said,
“I am ashamed;”
But then he switches to the plural and this is where we see him identifying with his sinful nation.
“Our iniquities are increased over our head;”
“Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass;”
Yes, there is individual sin, but there is also community blame and guilt.
In I Corinthians 5:1-8, we see that there was not just individual sin in the church, but we also see that the church itself had sinned in being the kind of community where such wicked actions could occur and be tolerated.
Go back to Ezra’s experience now. Shecaniah understood this process of identificational repentance.
2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.
It does not appear that Shecaniah was guilty, but he owned and accepted the guilt with his people. Remember, we may not have specifically committed the sin, but we are a part of the environment that allowed it to exist and continue. we all own the sin in some way….and we acknowledge and confess it. Interestingly, Shecaniah’s father was guilty and several of his father’s house - but he does not excuse or palliate the sin…
The second subject I want you to consider is intercession
What Ezra is doing here is praying for his people - This is intercession. Intercession literally means - I go between…And you are going between for a purpose....to assail with petitions on behalf of another. It can also mean to come between so as to obstruct.
We see this procession of intercession in the life of Abraham (with Ishmael - Genesis 17:18-20; Sodom - Genesis 18:23–33; Abimilech - Genesis 20:17). We also see it in the life of Moses (The removal of plagues - Exodus 15:25; Water at Rephidim - Exodus 17:4; The victory over Amalek - Exodus 17:8–16; The Golden Calf prayer - Exodus 32:11–14, Exodus 32:21–34, Exodus 33:12; After the renewal of the tables of stone - Exodus 34:9; And it goes on and on.....
Here is a key to success in your prayers:
a. First - Clear off a spot and make it a place of prayer - Determine to pray.
b. Be genuinely concerned about who and what you are praying about…There needs to be intensity and fervency.
c. Know the need, the sin, the shortcoming, the weakness, etc
d. Be willing to identify with the prayer recipient in that sin, shortcoming, weakness, etc. You may have done the same thing at some point. You may have engaged a variant of what you are praying for…..(e.g. You may not have stolen, but you coveted). You may have allowed the environment that produced the sin, weakness, etc.
e. Believe that God can meet this need.
f. Go to God and explain the situation
g. Plead with God to intervene - Base your plea upon the aspect of his character that you need Him to manifest (Mercy, Power, Love, Forgiveness, etc)
h. Leave the results to Him
If necessary go back again and again, and again...Luke 11:5–13