All confidence is empty, except confidence in mercy. Mercy delivers us; our own merits, our own efforts, do not. So Daniel (9:18-19) also prays:
We do not present our pleas before You because of our righteousness, but because of Your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for Your own sake, O my God, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.
So Daniel teaches us in praying to seize mercy, that is, to trust in God's mercy and not to trust in our own merits before God. We also wonder what our adversaries do in prayer, if the ungodly people ever ask anything of God. If they declare that they are worthy because they have love and good works and ask for grace as a debt, they pray precisely like the Pharisee who says, "I am not like other men" (Luke 18:11). He who prays for grace in this way does not rely upon God's mercy and treats Christ with disrespect. After all, He is our High Priest, who intercedes for us. So prayer relies upon God's mercy, when we believe that we are heard for Christ's sake. He is our High Priest, as He Himself says, "Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14). Without this High Priest we cannot approach the Father. (paragraphs 209-212)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.