By Joseph Ametepe
Once a year, in the life of the nation of Israel, the people of Israel humbled themselves before God. This took place in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month (Leviticus 16:29). This day, which fell in the month equivalent to our mid-September to mid-October, is called the Day of Atonement (or Yom Kippur). It was set aside as a day of public fasting and humiliation on which atonement for the people's sins was made by the high priest. The Day of Atonement was and is a solemn day for the people of Israel. On this day, the people of Israel sought God for the forgiveness of their sins as a nation under God's rule.
The National Day of Prayer (the first Thursday of the month of May) is also a day set aside to seek the One and Only True God on behalf of the people of the United States of America. Believers living in this nation should take advantage of this day and join with others to call upon God on behalf of this nation. Sure, we can pray on any given day for this nation. However, when God's people are united in heart to pray specifically for the nation on such a day, set aside for such a specific purpose, God is moved by His people's united prayer for the land.
One of the greatest prayers recorded in the Bible for a nation is the prayer of the prophet Daniel. This prayer is recorded in Daniel 9. This is one of my favorite prayers in the Bible. It is second only to the High Priestly Prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ, recorded in John 17.
In Daniel's Spirit-led prayer for the nation of Israel, we learn several principles of prayer. We can also apply these principles in our prayers today. Daniel's prayer moved the heart and the hand of God to act on behalf of Israel at a time in which many Jews had lost all hope of ever seeing their beloved nation rise from her ruins and spiritual degradation and desolated condition. The prayer was so powerful that before Daniel finished praying, God sent the angel Gabriel to bring His commendation, comfort and counsel to the praying prophet (Daniel 9:20ff). Daniel experienced the truth of (2 Samuel 21:14b; 24:25) - "God was moved by prayer for the land."
The prayer of Daniel is a powerful illustration of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (NIV). Daniel's prayer teaches us what it means to humble ourselves before God and to pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways for God to hear and forgive our sins and heal our land. There is no other prayer that perfectly and powerfully illustrates 2 Chronicles 7:14 than Daniel 9.
If we are going to pray to move the heart and the hand of God to intervene, to act on behalf of America to bring Repentance, leading to our Return to God, Revival, Renewal in the Holy Spirit, Restoration of the gracious relation between God and His people, times of Refreshing in our nation, Reconciliation between God and man, and between each other, Rebuilding of broken lives in God, Reestablishing of the standards of morality and the fear of God, Recovering and Reclaiming the territory the devil has stolen in this land, Reuniting of many dysfunctional and divided families and are being destroyed by Satan who has come only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10a), Regaining the hearts of the youth in this country, and Reaping the Harvest of Righteousness in this land, then we must pray as Daniel prayed by applying the principles preserved in his prayer. We must pray first of all:
I. Standing on the promises God Himself has revealed in the Scriptures (v. 2).
Daniel was a student of Scripture. His study of the “books” (OT scrolls) focused on the years prophesied for the captivity in Jeremiah 25:11-12 and 29:10. The period of desolation of Jerusalem determined by God was almost expired. Since the end of the seventy years of exile was near, (605-538 B.C., sixty-nine years of the seventy had already passed) Daniel prayed for God’s intervention on behalf of the nation of Israel. Even if there was just one day left for the seventy years to be completed, Daniel would have prayed. He believed that the prayer of the righteous man can accomplish much (James 5:16b).
What was it that moved Daniel at this time to approach the throne of God to pour out his heart in a prayer of repentance in behalf of his people Israel and the desolated temple in Jerusalem? Did Daniel doubt the truth of the promise, that God, after seventy years of exile in Babylon, would visit His people and fulfill the good word He had spoken, that He would again bring back His people to their land (Jeremiah 29:10)? Certainly not! Daniel did not doubt the promise, rather the divine promise deepened his desire and delight in storming the throne of God to seek God for the full fulfillment of it.
True prayer is in response to the Word. When Daniel discovered the will of God from the study of the Word of God, through the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel became very confident that he was praying according to the will of God for Israel. In other words, his prayers had a solid scriptural foundation. Daniel knew that the Word of God is the surest foundation to stand on in prayer.Not only that, praying according to the will of God put life in his prayers.
It was as if Daniel was saying, “God, Your Word says after seventy years of exile, You will restore Your people and Your land Israel. Therefore, God, I’m taking You at Your Word. God, I’m holding You to Your Word as revealed in the Scriptures. God, I’m standing on the solid ground of Your promises that cannot fail or fall to the ground. God, You are not a man that You should lie, nor a son of man, that You should repent; Have You said, and will You not do it? Or have You spoken, and will You not make it good? (see Numbers 23:19). Yes! Yes, Indeed! Therefore, God, I’m standing on Your promises to restore us.”
May I say to us, praying the words of Scripture puts life in our prayers! For the last three years, God has led me to a new height of praying, that is, praying through the Bible in my time alone with Him. I read aloud verse by verse or paragraph by paragraph. As I do so, I turn the words into prayer. My confidence soars as the Spirit leads me to pray God's will revealed in God's Word.
What is the promise God has given you in His Word for this nation?
Have you stood on that promise in your prayers to God?
Have you stood on the promise “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He chose for His inheritance?” (Psalm 33:12).
Have you stood on the promise and admonition, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people?” (Proverbs 14:34).
If we are to pray to move the heart and the hand of God to act on behalf of nation, to advance His righteous purpose, then we must also diligently search the whole counsel of God to discover His heart and purpose for this land. Since God’s will, purpose and heart are revealed in Scripture, “the most promising method of prayer then is to allow oneself to be guided by the Word of God. In this way we shall not become victims of our own emptiness.” (D. Bonhoeffer – Life Together)
II. Seeking God with all seriousness and singleness of mind and humility of heart (v. 3).
True prayer is characterized by fervency, self-denial and humility. As soon as Daniel discovered the heart and purpose of God concerning His people and their situation, he gave himself to the serious, earnest, fervent labor of prayer. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God specifically says, if His people humble themselves and pray and seek His face- this is exactly what Daniel is doing here. Daniel took this exhortation to heart, to seek God’s face, to pray and to humble himself before God.
Notice what the Bible says: “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:2) (NASB).
Literally, in the Hebrew, the expression “gave my attention,” means “set my face.” This shows the singleness of mind and focus with which Daniel approached the throne of God. It was as if Daniel and the Lord were having a face-to-face conversation with nothing or no one to distract him from the high calling of interceding for his nation.
While it is good to pray on the run, whether we are driving or working or doing chores at home, please listen, we also need to set time aside to set our face to the Lord our God and allow absolutely nothing to distract us or take our focus or concentration away from God. Daniel was working in the king’s palace, but he took time from the king’s business to attend to the Business of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, seeking Him on behalf of Israel. May I ask you, when was the last time you took time off from all other activities, to be with God and seek Him with singleness of mind for this land? Chances are, it has been a long time since you did such a thing. But the times in which we live, make it impossible for us to continue to do "business as usual" without taking time to seek God on behalf of this nation.
Although, Daniel was over 80 years at this point in his life, he did not lose passion, fervency, seriousness in his prayers. He prayed with a great sense of urgency, praying with fasting. Fasting did not earn him brownie points before God but it certainly intensified his prayer. Fasting intensifies and adds a sense of urgency to our prayers. By the grace of God, from time to time, God leads me into a time of fasting so as to intensify my prayers to Him. I am so grateful for that. I know that there are some believers who have legitimate medical reasons that will not allow them to fast. But for most of us, that is not the case. So we have no excuse before God. Do you have a holy dissatisfaction that drives you into the presence of God for a season to set your eggs, hams and potatoes or veggies aside for awhile, so you can cry out to God on behalf of this land?
Daniel sought the Lord with all seriousness and singleness of mind. Not only that, by putting on sackcloth and ashes, we see Daniel’s sincere humility before God. Wearing sackcloth and sprinkling the head with ashes served as an outward sign of true humility and repentance. Daniel was sincerely humble. He was not putting on a show for others to see how spiritual he was, as the Pharisees often did and were rightly censured by the Lord Jesus for spiritual showmanship or hypocrisy.
III. Spelling out our sins to God in specific terms, not in general terms (vv. 4-6, 8-12).
True prayer is characterized by identification with the people in the confession of sins. True prayer is strengthened by heartfelt sincere confession. Since the desolation of the holy land and the exile of the people was a well-deserved punishment for their sins, and a removal of the punishment could not be hoped for without genuine humility and repentance under the righteous judgment of God, Daniel begins first with the confession of the greatness of God before confessing the greatness of the sins of Israel!
Would you please notice his confession of the greatness of God. "I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, 'Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandment'" Daniel 9:4 (NASB). Daniel acknowledged the greatness of God to Him. God loves that. He delights in hearing His children confess His greatness and His awesomeness and His faithfulness. Before Daniel would confess the greatness of the sins of his people, with whom he identified himself, he spent time exalting and exclaiming the greatness of the Great God of the Universe. He is great and exalted above all. There is no one to be compared to Him in greatness and power.
The words translated “confess” in the OT and NT are powerful terms. The Hebrew “yada’” has the basic meaning of “to know.” In certain contexts, though, “yada’” goes further: it means to know and respond to what one knows.” Thus, someone knows God’s goodness and declares or confesses it. Or someone knows the seriousness of his or her sin and confesses it. The Greek “homologeo” means literally “to say the same.”
When translated “confess,” both “yada’” and “homologeo” portray the believer in action, boldly declaring his or her faith, or openly acknowledging failure and sin.
Daniel prayed to the Lord (Yahweh) whom he also called my God (Elohai). If we want our prayers to be heard, then God, to whom we pray, must become our God. In other words, you must have a personal saving relationship with God through belief in the Person of Jesus Christ and His saving work on the cross for sinners.
Having confessed the greatness of God, Daniel proceeded to the confession of the greatness of his and his people's sins. I love Daniel. Please notice that Daniel did not condemn his people by pointing accusing fingers at them, nor did he close his eyes on the sins they committed as a nation, rather he confessed them. God has given me the awesome privilege of experiencing church life on three of His created continents, namely Africa, Asia and America (North). One of the things I have discovered and experienced in churches on these continents, is called "church-politics." Every church has "church-politics." I have found that there are normally two parties engaged in "church-politics," namely, the "Confession Party," and the "Condemnation Party." Those in the "Confession Party," are grieved by their own sins and the sins of others, and repeatedly come to God, identifying themselves with the rest of the people in confessing their sins. But those in the "Condemnation Party" never grow weary of condemning others. They point accusing fingers at others. The members of the "Condemnation Party" are usually in the majority. Let me ask you, in your church, which party do you belong to? The "Confession Party" or the "Condemnation Party." Daniel, like others before him such as Moses, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Jeremiah, was in the "Confession Party," and was constantly burdened to confess the sins of his people.
Please take note of this! Daniel’s confession was without excuses or explanations of why Israel failed to live up to God’s righteous and holy standard. His confession was not like that of King Saul, who felt the need to explain why he disobeyed the direct command of God: “I have sinned… because I feared the people and listened to their voice” (1 Samuel 15:24). “I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the mission on which the LORD sent me… But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction to sacrifice to the LORD your God” (1 Samuel 15:20-21).
Unfortunately this is how some of us make our confession: “Oh God, I have sinned, but You know am human and weak, or the old devil made me do it.” This is not the kind of confession that leads to repentance and revival. Daniel knew that. There was no “because” or “but” in Daniel’s confession to God.
Would please also notice that Daniel was very specific in the confession of the sins of Israel, using the strongest terms possible. Daniel called a spade, a spade. He saw the sin and guilt of Israel as God saw them. He saw the greatness of Israel’s guilt against God from the fact that God had not failed to warn them. But Israel would not hear the words of the prophets, who spoke in His name to high and low – to kings and heads of tribes and families, to the great men of the kingdom and to the fathers and to the whole people of the land. This is how the New International Version recorded Daniel's confession:
We have sinned and done wrong (v. 5).
We have been wicked and have rebelled (v. 5).
We have turned away from Your commands and laws (v. 5).
We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name (v. 6).
We have sinned against You (v. 8).
We have rebelled against Him (v. 9).
We have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws He gave us through His servants the prophets (v. 10).
All Israel has transgressed Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You (v. 11).
We have sinned against You (v. 12).
We have not obeyed Him (v. 14). We have sinned, we have done wrong (15).
Notice that in the New International Version, the pronoun "we" is repeated 11 times. This clearly shows that Daniel was truly identifying himself with the rest of Israel in the confession of their sins. Although Daniel lived a distinguished and obedient life, he felt no need to play "the holier-than-thou" game. He humbly identified himself with all Israel and confessed the seriousness of their sins against God.
You don’t hear this kind of confession in prayer meetings today, where sin is called sin and spelt out in specific terms. But may I say to us, if we are going to pray to move the heart and the hand of God, we must be specific and sincere in our confession to God.
God had given the promise that even in a time of judgment, if Israel would confess their sin, He would bring blessing again (see Leviticus 26:40-42). This promise motivated Daniel to identify himself with Israel in confessing the sins of Israel in specific terms. Daniel labeled each sin: doing wrong, wickedness, rebellion, disobedience, refusal to obey God's voice, turning away from God, failure to keep God's laws, transgression. He wrote them all down. He left nothing out. Daniel refused to stand off at a safe, self-righteous distance. Rather, he identified intimately with the sins of the people, spelling them all out to God.
When was the last time you sat before the Lord to spell out the sins of this land to Him in true confession? Have you identified with the people of this country in confessing the sin of calling good evil and evil good? Have you confessed to Him that all America has transgressed His Word and turned aside, not obeying His voice? Have you confessed to God that we as a nation have rebelled against Him and are rejecting His Word? O today, you and I need to identify with our people in the confession of the sins of our nations that God, who is forgiving, may extend His abundant mercies to the nations for their repentance and return to God!
IV. Saying sincerely to God that He is always right in everything He does (vv. 7, 9, 12-14, 16).
Daniel knew very well that true prayer is dependent on the character of God. Andso he repeatedly affirmed the righteousness of God (vv. 7, 14, 16). "Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day" (Daniel 9:7) (NASB). "For the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done" (Daniel 9:14) (NASB). "O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts (literally, righteousnesses), let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain" (Daniel 9:16) (NASB).
Daniel refused to blame God for all that had happened in the land of Israel. Daniel did not charge God with wrong doing in the captivity of Israel. Righteousness belongs to God, but to the sinful people only shame. Daniel is simply saying to God, “God, You are always in the right. Even in allowing great calamities on our land, You have not wronged us. You have done only what is right and consistent with Your righteous character.”
This delighted the heart of God. He was pleased that Daniel saw that even in His judgments on Israel, He was acting according to His righteous character.Acknowledging the righteousness of God in prayer is a sign of maturing faith which brings pleasure to the heart of God.
Daniel was following in the footsteps of other men of God who affirmed God’s righteousness in their prayers to Him (Deuteronomy 32:3-4; Job 1:21-22; 2 Samuel 22:31; Nehemiah 9:32-33; Ezra 9:15; Psalm 51:4). Would you please listen to the way God's righteousness was affirmed by the returnees from the Babylonian exile! "Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness, do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You, which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria to this day. However, You are just in all that has come upon us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly" (Nehemiah 9:32-33) (NASB). Oh how this prayer delighted the heart of God!
What about us? Do we also sincerely, from the bottom of our hearts, tell God in our prayers for this country, “God, You are always in the right, even in permitting September 11th, 2001, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 to take many lives?”Can we sincerely say to God, "In all that has happened to us, (even in the April 16th, 2007 massacre at Blacksburg Virginia Tech, in which Cho Seung-hui, the 23 year old gunman, killed 27 fellow students and 5 staff members, before taking his own life), You have been just; You have acted faithfully?" Please understand that I am not saying that God was behind this carnage. He did not plan it. He chose in His sovereign will not to prevent it. He permitted it. But He is altogether righteous. He has done no wrong. Therefore, He cannot be charged with wrongdoing.
It is so easy for us to feel justified in blaming God for the increase of evil in this land. There are times we tell God; He is not fair in His dealings with us. May I say to us, anyone who wants God to be fair to him or her doesn’t know what he or she is asking for. Daniel didn't blame God for not being fair. Neither did Nehemiah and the Jews who returned from exile in Babylon. Rather, they affirmed God's faithfulness and righteousness.
Daniel’s prayer was not only focused on the righteous character of God, but also on His character of greatness, awesomeness, faithfulness, forgiveness, and His great mercy or compassion. Compassion and forgiveness are with the Lord our God; and these we need, for we have rebelled against Him. The rebellion against God, the refusal to hear the voice of the Lord through the prophets, the transgression of His law, of which all Israel were guilty, has brought the punishment on the whole people which the Law of Moses threatened against transgressors. This is why Daniel didn't ask God to be fair to Israel. Israel would have been in big trouble. Likewise, for us to ask God to be fair to us will only spell trouble for us.
V. Supplicating God with a heart that firmly believes that He is able to do miracles (v. 15).
After Daniel’s confession, there now follows the prayer for the turning away of the wrath of God (vv. 15-16), and for the manifestation of His grace toward His people (vv. 17-19).
Daniel recalled and reminded God of His works of power in delivering the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Israel could not free themselves from Egyptian bondage and oppression. They needed God’s miraculous and mighty intervention to leave the house of slavery. God flexed His muscles and acted miraculously on Israel’s behalf. In delivering Israel, God made a name for Himself that has endured to this day. As Daniel recounted the past miraculous works of God, his confidence in God’s ability to deliver Israel from the present Babylonian captivity, soared to the heavens. Daniel knew very well that it would take another miraculous act of God to bring Israel out of Babylon.
As a result, Daniel presented his supplications to God with a heart full of confidence, firmly believing that God was able to perform wonders to restore Israel to their land, that God was able to do the impossible (Luke 1:37)again in this situation. Daniel believed that nothing is too difficult for God (Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Genesis 18:14; Zechariah 8:6; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27). He believed that the things that are impossible with people are possible with God (Luke 18:27). I know very well that not everybody in the Church believes that God can do miracles today. Miracles are a thing of the past. After all, we are living in a modern, scientific and technological age. Who needs miracles? But may I say to us, God is still performing miracles today. He has not changed. He is still the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb 13:8). Is it possible for God to bring revival again in this land in these dark and discouraging days? Yes, indeed, He is able.
We must pray believing that God is able once again to flex His muscles do the impossible, that is, bringing a sweeping revival in this nation, even at this time when most of God’s people, that is, born-again, Spirit-indwelt believers are cold, compromising and care very little or have no passionate concern for God to show Himself mighty again. The same God who acted miraculously in the past is willing to do so today, if His people will come to Him with a heart that firmly believes that God is still in the business of doing the impossible. What kind of God do you believe? What kind of God do you pray to? Is He a God to whom nothing is too hard? Is He a God of the impossible? Or is He a God who has grown old and weak and fragile that He can’t even keep pace with our modern fast life, let alone perform miracles? I firmly believe in a God who still flexes His muscles to do the miraculous and the impossible in order to make a name for Himself.
VI. Submitting our prayers to God not on the basis of our merits, but on the mercies of God (vv. 17-19).
Please remember that 2 Chronicles 7:14 ends with the promise: “Then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” (NIV) We see Daniel taking full advantage of this promise and submitting his prayers to God with a great sense of urgency and passion.
Would you please notice afresh his sense of urgency and passion! "So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. "O my God, incline Your earand hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name." Daniel 9:17-19 (NASB)
Since true prayer is focused on God's glory and God's reputation, Daniel appealed solely to the glory and reputation of God as seen in the use of the pronoun "Your," 11 times. Literally, Daniel was consumed with the praise, honor, glory, reputation and exaltation of God. Daniel was deeply concerned about the name of the Lord. His desire was for the glory of God and nothing else. Therefore, he rested his prayer on the honor of the Lord, on the honor of His name alone. The name of God is the revelation of His being. Daniel knew that relying on his own righteousness and reputation would not impress God, let alone move His heart and His hand to act on behalf of Israel.
If we want to see our prayers move the heart and the hand of God Almighty, we must submit them on the basis of His great mercies, not on our merits, no matter how good we think they are. We must lay down our supplications to God solely on the basis of His reputation, not on our righteousness, which at best is filthy rags before a righteous and holy God (see Isaiah 64:6).
The Lord Jesus told a parable that vividly illustrates this principle. Two men went to the temple to pray. One a Pharisee, the other a publican. He told the parable to warn believers against the tendency of justifying themselves or appealing to their own reputation in prayer.
The parable reads: "And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. "The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' "But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' "I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:9-14 (NASB)
How do you submit your prayers to God? On your own good merit or on God's great mercy? On your own righteousness or God's righteous reputation? Although Daniel had lived a distinguished life, no fault was found against him (Daniel 6:4); his obedience to God even led him to be thrown into the lion's den (Daniel 6:16), yet he did not appeal to that reputation. Daniel had learned that the one who prays effectively appeals to the reputation of God rather than his own "righteous reputation."
This is the prayer that moves the heart and the hand of God to act on behalf of the land.
My prayer is that we will allow the Holy Spirit to continue to teach and train us in the spiritual discipline of prayer that we too like Daniel and other godly praying servants of God will learn to pray in such a way that God's heart and hand will be moved to intervene on behalf of our land, doing far more abundantly than all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:21).
We are living in desperate times. The only one who can turn the tide of moral decay and decline, spiritual deadness and darkness in this country is God Almighty, the Lord of lords, the only Sovereign, the only wise God, the Blessed and only Ruler. He acts in response to believing prayer. If we fail to pray, we will have ourselves to blame. Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Samuel, and other godly men and women of prayer had put God to the test and found Him faithful. It is now our turn. Let us rise in the power of the same Holy Spirit who inspired in them faith to pray to move the heart and hand of God. Remember God's word: "God was moved by prayer for the land" (2 Samuel 21:14b; 24:25). Would it be said that on our watch "God was moved by prayer for this land and acted on behalf of the land?" History will reveal the answer to this question.
"Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen" Hebrews 13:20-21 (NASB).