“…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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14)
In almost every prayer meeting where there is prayer for the nation, no matter which church or country you are in, 2 Chron. 7:14 is normally read as the starting point of the prayer.
As believers we certainly have a mission from God to pray for our countries and persons in leading positions so that we and our fellow men ”may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” – a life of peace and freedom in an environment where the Gospel can be preached freely (see 1 Tim. 2:1-4). The problem is not that we pray, but how, and from which perspective.
In 2 Chron. 7:14 God instructed king Salomon and the nation of Israel what they were to do if the rain stopped falling, if locusts devoured the land, or if pestilence caused destruction among the people (see 2 Chron. 7:13). In times of national crisis, there were three things they were to do for God to intervene and change the situation:
- Humble themselves.
- Pray and seek God’s face.
- Turn from their wicked ways.
If these three steps were followed, God would answer by doing the following three things:
- Hear from heaven.
- Forgive the people’s sin.
- Heal the land.
As already mentioned, in practically every single prayer meeting where there is prayer for the country, this verse is normally quoted and these steps are normally used as the basis of the prayer. Thousands of prayer meetings are held every year where 2 Chron. 7:14 is referred to.
The question is therefore: When have we humbled ourselves enough? When have we prayed and sought the face of God enough? When have we turned from our wicked ways enough for God to answer our prayers and heal the land? I claim that we will never be able to accomplish this, which is why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to solve the problem.
2 Chron. 7:14 was an instruction from God to the people of Israel in the Old Covenant, when the temple of Salomon was inaugurated. For us who live in the New Covenant the Law and the Prophets are shadows pointing us to Jesus, who is the “substance” – i.e. the one who is the personal fulfillment of everything in the Old Testament.
Jesus is thus the fulfillment of 2 Chron. 7:14. Let us therefore look at the three ways God was going to respond, if only we humbled, sought and prayed, and turned from our wicked ways well enough, from the perspective of the finished work of Jesus.
Because of the finished work of Jesus, God has already:
- …heard us from heaven. Think about it: God sent His own Son to earth. God became flesh – He became a human being. Not only did God hear us – He came to earth as a man and walked and lived among us! As if this wasn’t enough; the truth of the Gospel is that Christ now live in us if we have confessed Him as Lord (Col. 1:27). We are now “one spirit with God” (1 Cor. 6:17). We do not have to fulfill a number of requirements for God to hear our prayers. He lives in us and He has no hearing problem!
- …forgiven the sins of the whole world. Through the death of Jesus on the cross, God reconciled the world to Himself, no longer imputing our trespasses (2 Cor. 5:19). Every argument that we first must deal with our own sins before God will answer our prayers, thereby falls flat to the ground. It is finished!
- …healed the land. By the wounds of Jesus, we have been healed (1 Pet. 2:24)! The “land” referred to in the Old Testament was the nation of Israel, which is a shadow of the land in which every born-again believer is a citizen today: the kingdom of heaven. Healing is available for nation and person who puts his/her trust in the finished work of Jesus!
To pray based on 2 Chron. 7:14 is a setup for failure; it is a dead end road. Jesus has already accomplished what we hope to convince God to do during our prayer meetings, when quoting this verse.
It is time for the body of Christ to prayerfully (note that I am not saying that we should stop praying) go out and preach the Gospel and share the good news about what God through Christ has done for everyone! More prayer meetings where we try to humble ourselves more, pray and seek God more, or turn from our wicked ways more, before God will be able to answer our prayers are – in spite of the good intentions – a waste of time. The Gospel – the good news about what has already happened because of the finished work of Jesus – is the power of God unto salvation.