"We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses" (Nehemiah 1:7).
Nehemiah had such a great burden for his nation that, although he himself had not been guilty of their sins, he was willing to confess their sins as his own, if God would only restore them to the Promised Land.
Ezra also felt the same way. "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" (Ezra 9:6). Godly Daniel had also prayed for his people, identifying himself with their sins. "We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly. . . . O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name" (Daniel 9:5,19).
And God did hearken as He had promised long ago: "If my people . . . pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (II Chronicles 7:14).
Our own land today surely needs healing. God desires "my people" to confess as their own the sins of their people (we are surely at least in part responsible, because of our past indifference, merely criticizing instead of praying), then perhaps God will hear as He heard the prayers of Daniel and Nehemiah.
Paul felt the same burden in his day. "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Romans 9:3).
Ezra and Paul and the others identified themselves with the sins of their people. But the Lord Jesus Christ went far beyond even that. He not only identified Himself with us in our sinful state, but also then "bare our sins in His own body on the tree" (I Peter 2:24). HMM