I read this prayer from the president Yoweri Museveni of Uganda upon the celebration of 50th year of independence from British rule.
“I stand here today to close the evil past, and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness…. We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation. We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal….Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict…. We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own.”
The powerful prayer reminded me of Daniel’s prayer in the book of Daniel 9:1-27. Daniel in exile, recognized that the exile had to be coming to an end and prepared himself and the nation for return to the land. He confessed,
“We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land. Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. O LORD, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you….Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the LORD our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth. Therefore, the LORD has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The LORD our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him….”
Daniel too, repented for the offenses of the nation that were against God and against his fellow Israelites outlined in Torah. While I am not much for mixing religion and politics, I applaud the Ugandan president for his recognition of the state of the country that he oversees. Even apart from the theological implications, both the Prayer of Daniel and President Museveni invoke a sense of humility absent in politics today. It takes a certain level of humility to admit our deficiencies publicly, but it also brings a reality to the situation, that few other means can provide. I believe in this reality recovery can begin either politically and spiritually.