“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 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 7:13-14 (ESV)
In this all too familiar passage, there’s a tendency for us to miss the preceding verse 13, only focusing on verse 14, not realising that the context is important for us to appreciate to appreciate fully what the entire passage conveys. When we read both verses together, we will notice that there are three words tucked away that are too often missed: They are – When …If … Then …
WHEN … In verse 13, we are told to expect problems. It’s not “if” but “when”. Drought, locusts, pestilence are the three most feared problems of a farmer, leading to financial, environment and social ruin at every level of society.
IF…. As God has warned us, today we see the world’s governments and structures heading straight into a collision course. There’s unprecedented evil and unrelenting crises exploding across the world- Ebola, ISIL, capital markets, environment, societal breakdowns – and the list gets longer and more fearsome. God tells us that when we experience such crises, we are to turn to him. The word “If” connects the “When” to the “Then” – the condition that turns God to hear us.
God didn’t say “If problems come, when you pray, then I will act.” He says quite the opposite, “When problems come, if you pray, then I will act.” He’s not directing this command to the world, but to His people.
The challenge for us is this – how then do we pray?
Humbling ourselves: It begins with the preparation of our hearts, having the attitude of coming to Him on bended knees, acknowledging that that He is in control. It is the attitude of knowing that we can not depend on our ideas, our solutions, or our programs, but to come to God in humility.
Pray and seek His face: It moves into the key area of relationship. Do we seek His presence, to wait without hurry and to ask with child-like faith? Are your desires in tune with His?
Turn from their wicked ways: The more we draw closer to Him, the more we see who we really are inside. It is when we experience God’s holiness, that we see more clearly that we are unholy. Look deep within and ask God where have we failed Him, as a people of God, as the church of God bearing His witness in this nation. Are we reflecting who He is – in kindness, justice and righteousness? (Jeremiah 9:24)
THEN …. This is how powerful prayer is … it is the hinge that unlocks God’s power to hear us, to forgive us, and then to heal our land. The promise of transformation, the promise of healing of all the curses and ruin in our land, hinges on us coming before Him on bended knees.
God is not deaf. He promises to hear, forgive and heal, if we humble ourselves, pray and turn from our wicked ways. Will you not pray with Him, even for one hour?