"If my people, which are call by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

2 Chronicles 7:14

Who are God's people? They are chosen by God (Deuteronomy 14:2). They are exalted above all nations (Deuteronomy 26:19). They are the ones to whom He gives strength (Psalm 29:11). God guides them like a flock of sheep (Psalm 100:3).

Because we are chosen by God through His merits, we are privileged to be exalted by His grace, as He continues to teach us to live in preparation for His soon coming. But how do we humble ourselves? Psalm 34:18 reminds us about His nearness to the broken-hearted. “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).

One of the ways that we can turn from our wicked ways is through the avenue of prayer. Prayer is like a key to a car; if you do not turn the key, the car will not start. Also sometimes we turn the key, but the car still cannot move. When we regard wickedness in our hearts, the Lord will not hear (Psalm 66:18). But “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Ephesians 5:26 reminds us that His Word washes us. If we are not studying His word and applying it to our lives, we may plugin but still not turn on, because sin dulls our senses and isolates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). Adam and Eve are our example, showing how sin isolates us from God — they actually hid themselves from God (Genesis 3:8).

Lack of faith also has an incredibly negative impact on a Christian life. “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith gives power to our prayers. Jesus Himself was powerless to perform miracles in His hometown of Nazareth, because of the people's unbelief and lack of faith (Mark 6:1-6). James 1:5-8 also reminds us against been double-minded, being likened to having two souls, unstable and incapable of hearing from God.

We are often reluctant to put our trust in God's words. Yet every day, we trust our lives to trains, cars, jobs, money, as well as the words of doctors, friends, and even strangers. Why is it so much easier for us to trust these unknowns, rather than to put our trust in God’s words? A God who is faithful and loving and kind in every way! But anything other than God will surely disappoint us.

We see a great contrast in 1 John 3:20-22, in which we are told that obedience leads to confidence, while disobedience leads to condemnation. Obedience is one of the conditions that we must meet in order to expect that He will answer our prayers. If we are to grow in our relationship with God to become strong people of prayer, we must obey His words, putting on the whole armor (Ephesians 6:11). Obedience is a natural outgrowth of love and faith in God (John 14:15). The one that obeys God trusts Him, and the one that trusts God obeys Him. Let us learn to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16). This requires us to be transparent, so we can experience true salvation (spiritual, physical, and emotional restoration). Then we shall gain the privilege of helping others along in their journey with the Lord. Ask Him to love through you, to be His vessel for transporting His love and mercy to others.

Jesus taught Peter that (un)forgiveness is not about mathematics, but an attitude of the heart (Matthew 18:21-22); for it is only through the Holy Spirit that we can experience true forgiveness. Forgiving and being forgiven are inseparable: when we refuse to forgive another person, we are only hurting ourselves; but when we forgive, we allow our own hearts to be made right and light.

When God Speaks

When we think about someone like Noah, we are led to examine our own motives. God asked Noah to build an ark at a time when the earth had never seen rain. Such was definitely a project that he could not do on his own. Imagine when his neighbors and friends came by, only to laugh at and ridicule him, even questioning him about his faith. Noah must have searched himself to examine why he was doing it. But obedience reminds us that our responsibilities are first and foremost to God alone.

When we study God’s word, He speaks to us; and when we pray, we speak to Him. This interactive exchange gives Him the opportunity to reveal to us our motives, whether we may be acting from pride, fear, or even convenience — for God knows the heart. Idols in our lives can also hinder us from being in a close relationship with Him. When most people think about idols, they think about statues that are worshipped as gods. But an idol can be anything in our hearts that comes between us and God. Idols can come in many forms: your children, money, pleasure, etc. “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face” (Ezekiel 14:3). “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).

Call to Action

Take time to ask God to reveal to you your true condition before Him, and also ask for His grace to give you the strength to overcome. I know that God knows you and me, and what is best for us. “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). But we also have a part to play in this cosmic battle, learning to cooperate with Him. We have a duty to surrender to His will. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

The ultimate purpose of prayer is not to get what we want, but to learn to accept what God sees is best for us. Then He will hear from heaven and will forgive our sins and heal our land. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers (1 Peter 3:12).

“Loving Father, thank You for choosing us to be a part of the family of God. May Your Word continue to wash us and deliver us from evil. All because of the sacrifice and the merits of your beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who continues to stand as our substitute and our surety. Thank You that Your ears are not heavy, neither are Your hands shortened. Grant us the gift of revival and reformation, we pray. Amen!”

All scripture taken from the King James Version.

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