If My people who are called by my name 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 heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14, ESV)
Growing up, “Don't blow at me!” was one of my father's favorite rebuking statements. That's the expression he would use when I'd sigh after one of his commands. I think I used up a lot of oxygen doing that growing up. Dad didn't allow “back-talk.” When I say he didn't allow it, I mean he did not allow it! We learned that lesson very young, and adhered to it strictly our entire life. I can't tell you how many times sighing was my form of calm rebellion. There were probably hundreds of times, working in the tobacco field or the garden, in which Daddy corrected me and I'd sigh and he'd say, “Boy, don't blow at me!”
There is something to be said for doing the right thing with the right attitude. Discovering what is the right thing to do can be hard. Doing it with the right attitude can be even more difficult.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is written to the people of God; people known to be God's people. It's a promise and a warning. God used Solomon to build the Temple. Solomon finished that task and God gave Solomon a dream. The promise was simple: God will forgive and heal. The warning was simple too: But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes...I will pluck you up... (2 Chronicles 7:19ff),
However, and this is our subject for today. Do you notice what conditions and what mechanism God gives to the people? God tells them to pray. Simple, right? Well...
It's not as simple as it sounds. God desires us to seek Him in prayer. That's the right thing to do. Too much prayer involves seeking our own wants and needs and desires. Consider the blunt words of James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you have asked wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Our petitions to the Lord should involve seeking His face, His will, His desires, His plans; it should involve seeking Him. The best way for your prayers to be answered in the affirmative is to pray according to the desires of God.
Not only must we pray according to God's will, but we must also humble ourselves. Certainly, this is not in our nature! Our flesh loves to be exalted. We even think of it as an American right to be full of “swagger” and pride. It's not a Christlike characteristic at all! He even described Himself as lowly and meek (Matthew 11:29). James speaks bluntly on this as well: humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you (4:10). When we push ourselves under the Lord, giving Him honor above ourselves and submitting to His will over our own, we can trust His good providence to lift us in His good time and for His good reason.
Last time, this article addressed God's command to pray for other believers. One of my deepest and most abiding prayers is that the people of God would become serious about humbling ourselves and seeking the Lord's face. We need to turn from our wicked ways and pursue the Lord. We need God to heal our land. Politics and policy won't fix America. Better schools won't fix America. A stronger economy will not heal America. A larger, more effective military force will not fix America. We need God.
Let's not be as foolish youths, “blowing” at authority and going through the motions of the wrong thing with the wrong attitude. My dad wouldn't tolerate it and I am sure our Father will judge it as well! Let us indeed humble ourselves, seek the Lord and pray. It's the right attitude and the right action for approaching our Father.