Sunday, August 23, 2009

Let's Put The Horse Back In Front of the Cart

If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,

Does this sound anything like the world we are living in currently? Oh, sure, we have had literal rain and have avoided actual devastation of locusts and the peril of pestilence but are we not experiencing record financial drought, depleting resources and failing families?

What were the life issues of ages ago are no longer the life issues in our age. No rain (spiritual and financial drought), locusts (lost jobs, homes and cars going without repair) pestilence (marriage commitments broken, political and spiritual leaders that succumb to lust, fame and riches). I know you can think of others that apply. The point is this: that we as a society are bankrupt!

Is there hope?

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.

There is great danger here. We are far too familiar with this scripture and that familiarity has dulled our reading of what it really has to say.

Note that the initial phrase sets the preconditions for the remainder of the statment. My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray.

Let's not move too fast past this precondition.

It is an absolute requirement that one "humble himself" before he is able to pray. Think of your own prayer life. When do you tend to pray? It is generally, if you are like most Christians, when your life is in crises. It is only in those times that you find the challenge greater than your abilities that you turn to prayer.

God is gracious to inform us that we will not pray if we are not first humbled, either by our choice or by our circumstances. The issue with waiting for our circumstances to bring sufficient humility for us to pray is that, at this point, we are just like non-Christians in that we are reduced to the lowest point of our faith and our prayers are timid.

Our God invites us to humble ourselves and then we will pray!

What then follows is that, since we have prayed in true faith we will hungerily seek His benevolent face and in finding His face we will gladly and eagerly turn from our wicked ways.

Unfortunately, we tend to get this whole process backward. We think that we must first turn form our wicked ways, then we can seek His face and pray. Do you see the folly of that? There is no humility in my mustering up the self-will to abandon my wicked ways even if I were able to do it. Without that humility true faith is impossible.

Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place

II Chronicles 7:13-15

Our God hears and sees our humble, faithful prayer. He is so passionate about our prayers offered in faith that He not only hears them He actually sees them as well.

Let's begin again. Step one is: humble yourself and pray. The rest will take care of itself!

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