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David Eric Williams

Jan 8, 2024 12:00 AM

Humble Ourselves And Pray

"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14). In some circles it is common to suggest this verse is not applicable to the experience of new covenant believers. However, Paul had this verse and all other promises of God in mind when he said, For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 1:20). The promises of God are given to us in the Bible. Of course, the Bible Paul had when he wrote this statement is what we call the Old Testament. We should never buy into the idea that the only promises of God Christians have access to are found in the New Testament (cf. Isaiah 63:19, 65:1, Acts 15:15-17, Romans 15:14, Ephesians 2:12-14, 1 Peter 2:9-10, Revelation 1:5-6). The original context for this passage from 2 Chronicles concerns the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. After the dedication was complete, God appeared to Solomon in the night and told him he had heard the king’s prayer. The promise recited here specifically cites the calamities of drought, locust and plague. Yet, taken in the context of the entire address, it is clear God is promising to hear the prayers of his humbled people under any disastrous circumstance. There are three things we must acknowledge as we claim this promise for ourselves; we must be humble, we must repent and we must pray. These three points are not presented in a tidy “one, two, three” order in the verse. Rather, they are ingredients in the process of prayerful supplication. I have placed them in a particular order simply for the sake of clarity. In reality, each of these three – humility repentance and prayer – are to take place simultaneously. The essence of humility before God is submission. To be humble is to acknowledge we are not in charge. Indeed, prayer itself is an act of humility, a recognition that events are not under our control. Moreover, humble people are obedient. Humble people acknowledge God’s sovereignty and do so through a life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Therefore, unless we begin by humbly submitting ourselves to God we cannot hope to realize the blessings of this promise. In the Hebrew language, one of the words sometimes indicating repentance is shoob. That word is used here (“turn from their wicked ways”) and means “to turn back or away,” sometimes with the idea of returning to a starting point. Thus, God’s people must stop doing wicked things as part of the process of submission. This includes the hidden wickedness that besets so many followers of Jesus Christ. God knows our hearts and he abhors the hypocrisy of those who claim this promise while continuing in secret sin. So, the people of God must turn away from sin - both public and private – and in turning away must turn toward the Lord and seek fellowship with him. Finally, we must pray. We must pray as individuals and as the corporate body. We must pray intelligently and specifically. We must pray in a way honoring to God, using his own word as our sure guide. But in all ways at all times we must pray that God will bring relief from oppression, sickness, want, division, violence and injustice. We must pray that God will open the eyes of the blind that the truth shall prevail. Hence, in the weeks ahead I will continue to fill this column with examples of praying the Scriptures. Next week we will examine this same passage as an outline for prayer.