“and 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, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now My eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15 NASB).
You may have heard this passage— at least the first portion of it—mentioned more frequently these days. Or, you may have seen it written with stylish calligraphy or embroidered cross stitch within a framed wall decoration. And, like other well-known Old Testament verses adorning the walls of homes throughout this land, it may raise some age-old questions about context and application. But we are not here to debate those issues. Instead, we can be content to zero in on four timeless principles that are relevant for all of God’s family reborn in Christ. If you’re not a child of God and you want to be, then place your trust for eternal salvation fully in Christ: acknowledging He is God; realizing your need for Him as the only One able to graciously forgive all your sins… and who has paid its full price on your behalf by shedding His blood, dying and rising again; repenting or turning away from sin and toward Christ in newness of life! If you are already a believer, then recall and rejoice when you too became a child of God.
Verse 14 begins mid-sentence within a larger discussion (Verses 11-22). God is answering King Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the newly built Temple (“this place”) located in Jerusalem by referencing three “if/then” scenarios from Solomon’s lengthy prayer (Chapter 6:12-42). But the LORD doesn’t stop there, outlining His own “if/then” conditions for His people, centered on obeying Him and the dire consequences of disobedience.
In short, the immediate context and content of this passage is directed to a specific group of Israelites. However, it also includes some general biblical principles applicable to all believers in Christ. For example, humility before God, praying to Him, seeking His face and repenting of sins against Him. Notice the word “and” used throughout this passage. These are not mutually exclusive demands of God. They all pertain. Consider also, the order that each principle is presented in the passage. Humility comes before falling on your face and it comes before each of the other three things stated by God to Solomon. Who better to personify humility than Christ Himself?
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS” (Matthew 11:29). Here, Jesus quotes an Old Testament passage from Jeremiah 6:16, where the Israelites refused God’s offer and advice. The yoke of Christ is lighter than any you will bear on your own apart from His strength. Oh, but how quickly we forget the advice offered by our Lord whenever the burdens and challenges of this life overwhelm us if we try going it alone. Instead of leaning into the stiff winds of life’s struggles, lean into Christ. How do we begin? Baby steps of faith like that of a child. None of us should forget the humbling reminder given by Jesus to His disciples in Matthew 18:1-4. Humility in Christ remains the antidote to stubborn human pride.
The humility of Christ provides a blueprint for all believers (Philippians 2:1-8). Christ’s humbleness took Him obediently to a cross. Jesus knew before His arrival to this earth, as a baby, what it would take to provide the only way to redeem sinful humanity. Yet, He gladly accepted that humanly impossible task (Hebrews 12:2). Facing the most agonizing moments leading up to the crucifixion, where did Jesus go to prepare for what awaited Him there? Not surprisingly, the Garden of Gethsemane. There, sinless Jesus exercised humility by seeking the Father’s face in prayer. Jesus personifies God—exactly, and He exemplified a holy life on earth—perfectly, including humble prayer.
New Testament believers often cite 2 Chronicles 7:14 when their world is being shaken. And with good reason. For whom else can believers turn to for help but the living God Himself? Idols made by mankind cannot see, cannot hear the prayers of their worshippers, and cannot save (Habakkuk 2:18-20). Notice again, that praying comes after humility. However, you may discover that praying before Almighty God is a humbling experience in and of itself.
Now is the time to humble ourselves as a church family before the Father, as those called by His Holy Name, and pray together with one voice crying out to Him. “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Certainly, there is plenty to pray about and we need to do so for the sake of Christ if we are to effectively shine His light into this lost and dying world and to lift up fellow believers in need. Every issue of life ultimately comes down to God’s solution.
Consider Jonah’s prayer while inside the fish’s stomach. Not a pleasant environment for sure, but a reminder to us that it’s not where you pray but when. “While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer came to Thee, into Thy holy temple…” (Jonah 2:7). Today, Solomon’s Temple no longer stands, but God’s presence is unaffected (Acts 17:24). Instead, believers are now the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16). Start praying!
God answered the fervent—albeit desperate prayer of Jonah’s repentant heart and obedient proclamation of God’s word: “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5). Even the secular king of Nineveh called for repentance (Jonah 3:6-9). God relented, resulting in those living in that region who trust in Christ today. Never underestimate the impact of God’s family praying together in the Spirit “…for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6). The plumb lines of God’s will and word should be our primary reference points.
Our most recent church-wide “season of prayer” involved the church building itself. To remain a spiritually healthy church body we must continue to develop a broader range and scope of praying on a church-wide basis. Believers are often eager and willing to pray for people they know and for ministries that they believe God has laid upon their heart. Totally understandable. But enthusiasm quickly wanes beyond one’s sphere of familiarity or interest. As a result, many things important to God go without sufficient prayer or none at all. Somebody else will pray, right? Maybe. Should we merely accept that supposition or will we unleash the potential energy that sets on the prayer shelf undisturbed? Even in the virtual world that we live in at the moment, we can still mobilize the resource that is within every believer to pray in the Holy Spirit, who is free to roam the temple of our hearts.
It is God who gives us spiritual freedom to exercise our faith in Him. Therefore, let us not wait until we see a framed display of 2 Chronicles 7:14 hanging on a wall somewhere or hear it sung to remind us of the opportunity we have to humbly pray, seek God’s face and repent of sin seeking the greatest kind of healing: soul redemption. And may we not grow satisfied with just an occasional day of prayer. It’s not so much a question of what to pray about as it is, will we pray? The Lord’s harvest is ready right now! Therefore, let us be humble before God—not just in corporate worship but in corporate prayer, as well—it too, is always in season.
Alan Summers, GBC Elder
All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) 1975 edition