So often believers find themselves jumping through religious hoops in order to get God to listen to them. God wants to hear from us, this is clear. Before you were saved he called you to himself through the Holy Spirit, and you were told to ‘… call upon the name of the Lord and you shall be saved.’ (Romans 10:13) This is not the only thing, but the final thing God wanted from you in order to be saved; yet it is what gets focused on as the entire gospel. Just pray to Jesus.
If you will notice the preceding verse, Romans 10:9, God says ‘That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ God wants you to confess Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, and then you shall be saved. So often the complete plan is chopped up in our modern age of simplifying things. God has his ways and they are not man’s ways.
Carrying this thinking forward, it is often puzzling to see Christians quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14. The way most Christians quote this verse is, ‘If my people will pray, I will hear from heaven and heal their land.’ Then they go around hollering, ‘let’s all pray and God will hear us if we all pray’. Yes God wants to hear from us and answer us, but he has some other things to say about it.
Psalm 66:18 says, ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:’ So, clearly sin is something that can get in the way of God hearing us. Now to correctly quote 2 Chronicles 7:14; ‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and 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.’
First we notice right away that God was talking to all believers in him, the one true God who sent his son Jesus to die for the world. He was specifically speaking to the Jews at the time this was written, but as God grafted the rest of us in when Jesus came, all Christians are included here. So we see this is not a call for unbelievers to pray and expect anything from God. It is specifically to believers in the one true God.
OK, so if we are praying we are getting through, right? Not exactly. What else did God say here? God clearly points out what he wants to see out of us in order for him to listen. We must humble ourselves. You can pray all day long and never humble yourself before God and you miss the boat. This is the beginning to having your prayers reach God.
Only after humbling ourselves are we to pray. Next, ‘seek my face’, God says. Wow, that is an active thing. Not something that can be done only at dinnertime. This seeking God’s face implies an active yearning for God and getting right with him. Let him show you your faults as you pray.
God does not stop there. He requires that we ‘… turn from our wicked ways: …’ Wow, God wants a lot from us just to listen to us and do what we want. You bet he does. God is referred to as a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 6:15)
Mankind has a tendency to get very proud and God wants us to humble ourselves before him. He wants to answer our prayers, but he will not hear us if we are keeping sin in our hearts. Why do we expect him to overlook us all the time? This is what gets a nation into trouble that would require a call to prayer in the first place. There is no favor with God without repentance.
So, long and short, in order to get God to lend an ear and fulfill the last part of 2 Chronicles 7:14, ‘Then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land’, Christians are going to have to humble themselves, pray, seek his face and turn from their wicked ways in order to get God to lend his ear to them.
This sounds like a real relationship with Jesus, doesn’t it? No doubt our nation needs God to listen, but first his people must get their act together and get to know this Jesus who died for them and saved them. Begin to really worship him. He loves you so much, why wouldn’t you want to?
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