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 Chron. 7:14).
Last time we looked at the first part of this passage dealing with humbling ourselves. We saw that when we find ourselves out of step with God that we must first come to Him with a humbled heart. We cannot approach God expecting restoration or revival if we have not laid aside our self with all of its demands on Him. We must bow before God putting our selfish will aside and come seeking His will for our lives. This humbling is not an instantaneous event but may take a period of purging in which the Lord cleanses our lives of selfish baggage and helps us to focus on Him and His purpose. The humbling is a “season” and it ends when the Lord lifts His hand (1 Peter 5:6).
After the humbling, the next directive from God to Solomon in this passage is to pray. After we have humbled ourselves and opened up fully to God’s will, we are ready to pray. Before that our prayers would have been egotistical proclamations to God from our fallen, selfish minds, without recognition of our sin and selfish motives. Having humbled ourselves, because we saw the need of God, we are ready to open our mouths and hearts in prayer seeking His will.
That is exactly the meaning of the word for prayer. The word means more than mere communication with God. It is communication with God that seeks to find and express His will for a specific situation. In prayer we are speaking forth our agreement with Him concerning His will in the situation we face. It is not merely telling Him things as if He doesn’t know all things.
Jesus told His disciples “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:7, 8). The Father does not need to be informed by us but He desires to partner with us in implementing His will on earth through our praying. The Pharisees, and often Christians today, thought that it was the amount of time they spent in prayer and the amount of words they spoke that made prayer effective. Prayer is only effective when it is a partnership with God to accomplish His will.
So later Jesus taught them to pray saying “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:9-12). Jesus’ prayer is all about partnering with the Father about His will. It emphasizes His name, His, kingdom, His will on earth. Jesus was teaching us that prayer is about implementing God’s will and purpose.
Even praying for our daily bread and for forgiveness is entering into agreement with the Father concerning our daily needs. Jesus was very matter of fact in simply saying “Give us this day our daily bread” because He knew it was His Father’s will to meet our needs. Later in the next chapter He speaks of the Father’s desire to meet our needs. He says, “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” We do not have to beg God for our daily provisions but simply enter into agreement with Him for His will to meet our needs. That’s prayer.
The same is true of forgiveness. Jesus prayed “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” because He knew that it was the Father’s will to forgive us as we live a life of forgiveness with others. He did not pray that we should be forgiven apart from our own forgiveness of others because He knew the Father’s will about sin. Remember the story He told about the servant who received forgiveness of debt from his master only to refuse to forgive someone who owed Him? (Matt. 18:22-34). It did not end well for that unforgiving servant. We do not need to constantly ask God to forgive us because He is forgiving us according to how we forgive others who sin against us. Prayer acknowledges that truth.
So, the promise God gave to Solomon was not saying that we should simply pray a lot or go through certain religious motions, but that we can humbly approach God in faith knowing and submitting to His will and begin to speak forth in union with Him in implementing His will in all things. This means it is essential to know what the will of God is for the things we pray for. Effective prayer is prayer that pinpoints His will and releases it into a situation on earth. This could be a prayer for healing, family restoration, protection for a trip, discernment about a job situation, or anything in our lives. We simply need to ascertain the will of God from His word and by the Spirit and enter into union with God on the matter.
In Matthew 16:19 Jesus says, “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The tense of the verb used here for “bound” and “loose” is perfect passive, carrying the idea of something that has happened already in the past and continues to happen in the present and future. So the word could be awkwardly translated “shall have been being bound in heaven.” This means that our binding prayers tap into the will of God in such a way that they release the eternal action of God in anticipation of our prayer.
I know that all sounds quite technical but the upshot of it is that we enter into agreement with what God has already determined to do when we pray for it. As we pray we release the will of God already accomplished in heaven. Wow! That’s a mouthful and a wonderful mystery but it is how genuine prayer works.
Another good example is the passage in Revelation 8:1-5 that shows the connection of our prayer and the will of God. There we see seven mighty angels standing ready to blow their trumpets announcing and unleashing the judgment of God on earth. Another angel came and stood before the heavenly altar with a golden censer in his hands. The hand of God mingled the fire of His will with the prayers of the saints of God on the golden altar before His throne. As the smoke rose from the burning incense and passed before the Almighty One on the throne the angel took red-hot coals from the altar and mingled them with the prayer-filled incense and cast it toward earth. Lightening and mighty peals of thunder rolled through earth’s atmosphere. A devastating earthquake shook the planet to its core. The trumpets of God’s judgment begin sounding unleashing the judgment of the last days (Rev. 8:1-5).
It may amaze you to realize that the prayers of the saints are the initiating action that releases the coming judgment on earth. God cooperates with His church in releasing judgment. Remember that His church will coordinate with God in even judging the angels (1 Cor. 6:3). The angel takes the red hot coals of God’s fiery presence and mingles them with our prayer and casts it toward earth. God’s perfect, determined, eternal will is mingled with the prayers of the saints and cast from heaven to begin the judgment of earth.
That is prayer. God’s people releasing the established will of God into a situation. Whether it be praying for someone to be healed , for demonic forces to be bound, the salvation of our children, the settling of a personal issue, to have food to eat, forgiveness, or whatever, God’s will mingled with our prayer will change things on earth so they line up with God.
God was saying to Solomon and all of Israel that if they fall away from Him, the way back is through humbling and prayer. They would need to come to a place of realizing the truth about their condition in the light of God’s will so that He could begin the healing process. As long as we ignore His will nothing happens because prayer can only work when it is aimed at agreeing with and implementing the will of God. That’s why humbling ourselves is a prerequisite to effective prayer.
So what about us? What about the sleeping, complacent, rebellious church in America? How shall we conduct ourselves? Should we just make excuses for our lack of love, unity and power and devise new doctrines to explain away our lack, or should we humble ourselves and seek His will about our situation?
Prayer is not a priority if we believe we’re doing just fine and the church is what God wants it to be or if we believe the false doctrine that the church will continue to degrade until Christ rescues us. On the other hand, if we know in our hearts that we have left our first love, we have stepped aside from fully following the Lord, we must humble ourselves and pray. Our prayers must express our desire to know and live in His perfect will. We must pray for His will to be done and when we pray for ourselves we must learn to enter into agreement with the Father in all things.
When the church begins to pray we will once again tap into the most powerful force in the universe—God working in the hearts of His people. When we pray we will see our sins vanish and our land begin to heal. That’s what real prayer is all about.
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