Welcome back to this recipe for Healing Our Land. Yesterday, I introduced you to an analogy that goes along with 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.” (NIV)
I started with the first two ingredients of this spiritual recipe, humility and prayer, and noted that ingredients must be added in the order God listed. Today, I’ll add:
Ingredient 3: PERSISTENCE
“…pray and seek My face.” So far, we are humble, we have prayed asking for help.
The word “seek” always carries with it a sense of intense searching. If you seek for lost keys, you don’t wander here and there hoping they pop up in front of you. You methodically go through a room, looking beneath and behind anything that might be covering them. Sometimes, you find them right away. Sometimes, it takes an hour—or days.
When we ask to see God’s face, His comfort, His solutions, He doesn’t always show Himself right away. Seeking His face may include deep Bible study and days weeks, or even years of prayer. God usually lets those prayers sit for a while. Like bread rising or beans soaking, most things take time before they’re ready for use. So we keep praying. We keep stirring the pot, waiting for God to say, “Okay. All is ready.”
Those two people who started by listening to each other and then praying together? What a glory to God’s name if they continued to meet and pray together! But even if their prayer in the same room was a one-time deal, they could each go home and continue those prayers, alone or with friends, never giving up. Their resulting gentle attitudes could have an effect on the group they hang out with. Their hearts would grow so tender, that the prayer would one day change to the powerful words, “Lord, change me.” And He does.
Ingredient 4: THE U-TURN
“…seek My face and turn from their wicked ways.” A child who wants an ice cream cone can ask for a trip to Dairy Queen all day long, but if she hasn’t cleaned her room like her mother asked, she won’t be getting “yes” for an answer. Not if her mother wants her to grow into a responsible adult.
If we haven’t been obedient to our Father in heaven, He isn’t going to say “yes” to our desires either, not even if it’s a prayer to heal our nation. Have we turned from wicked ways? I don’t mean as a nation. Many Americans don’t count themselves as Christians, don’t feel a need to adhere to Biblical standards. I’m talking about the Church. Are we, as a group of believers, obeying God’s commands? Do we hold grudges against anyone? Do we hang onto a habit that God has told us is sin? Do we remain mute when we have the opportunity to talk about the love of Christ?
Don’t read “legalism” into my questions. They don’t refer to a list of rules. They are asking you to examine your heart.
Are we perfect? Absolutely not! We mess up. We didn’t mean to, but it happened. If we take that to the Lord and confess it, all is well. We have no intentions of messing up again. However, sometimes God reveals an attitude or a secret sin that we don’t want to change. When we purposely refuse to obey, we hinder our own prayers. We can seek His face into our old age, but no obedience means God has no obligation to show us His favor.
Until we make that giant U-turn of repentance, He can choose to remain silent. But when we decide to swerve away from that sin, God will move. If we fall down, He’ll help us up and propel us in the right direction.
Now you have combined all the ingredients for healing. Humility. Prayer. Persistence. The U-turn of repentance.
The leavening process begins.
Tomorrow, watch what God does with rising dough.
Persistence and endurance have a beautiful Greek word: hupomome. The word picture is of a flower growing in the cranny of a wall, gleaning the little bit of nourishment there in order to grow. “Hupomone” is my favorite Greek word, but it’s the only Greek word I know. You gave rich meaning to “seeking.”
Thank you, Ann. And you have taught me something new! Hupomone. A beautiful picture!