“I have heard your prayer . . . 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 Chronicles 7:14).
It was the most magnificent structure in the Middle East, perhaps in the world at that time. King Solomon built the first permanent Temple to God, one that his father David had longed to build but God said, “No.” It took seven years to complete with the conscripted labor of 150,000 of the indigenous population, plus 10,000 workers from the tribes of Israel who were employed on a four month rotation basis.
Hiram, the King of Tyre in Lebanon supplied the timber by treaty in exchange for food. King David had bequeathed the gold, silver, brass and iron for the building’s construction, valued at over $5 billion by today’s standards. Solomon added to that amount from his own treasury.
Twice as big as Moses’ Tabernacle in the wilderness, the new Temple sanctuary was inlaid with gold, carved out of one piece. No hammer, axe or any tool of iron was used in the Temple’s construction and two huge pillars with the names in Hebrew that translate in English as “Strength” and “Firmness,” graced its entrance. Unlike Moses’ tabernacle, which had been primarily a place of sacrifices and ritual, Solomon’s Temple was set apart also to be a “house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7, Mark 11:17).
The Temple was dedicated by Solomon between the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. These were the holy days when almost all of Israel would be in Jerusalem to fulfill God’s Commandment from the Law to attend these major feasts. As the ceremony began, the Ark of the Covenant was brought from the City of David to the new Temple to be placed in the Holy of Holies. Then came the rest of the priests and the Levitical choirs singing, “For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136). Then “the glory of the LORD filled the temple” (2 Chronicles 7:1).
When the grand and majestic festivities were over, the people left for their homes but God wasn’t finished. He then appeared to Solomon privately during the same night and said to him perhaps one of the most famous statements and promises regarding prayer in all of Scripture.
When God’s people pray, things begin to happen. That was God’s promise to Solomon then and that’s His promise to us today. But what does it take? I believe God has given us the outline for prayer in this beautiful passage. Let’s begin.
If My people who are called by My name, humble themselves . . .
This may surprise you but the word “if” is used over 1500 times in the Bible. Most of the time it is an introduction to a statement of conditions. When it is joined with the word, “then” it implies that something will happen as a result when those conditions are met.
In this powerful promise that God spoke to Solomon at the conclusion of the dedication of His first temple in Jerusalem, the LORD states the conditions of receiving His favor: Humility, prayer, seeking God, and repentance. The results? God will hear, God will forgive and God will heal.
Humility is pride’s opposite. Pride is a synonym for arrogance, or the attitude that I can do it on my own, I don’t need anyone’s help. Humility, on the other hand, means a lowliness of mind, not having an inflated opinion of ourselves and our ability. Paul told the Romans, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment . . .” (Romans 12:3). Peter adds, “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
and pray and seek My face . . .
First of all, we have to pray. The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). It’s like God places this banquet table of blessings and everything we need in this life before us, and He says, “Just come before Me and ask. I want to bless you, I want to meet your needs, and I want you to be successful and full of joy.”
But God also desires a personal, intimate relationship with you. He wants to speak with you, “face to face . . . as a man speaks with his friend,” as He did with Moses (Exodus 33:11). Rote and repetitious prayers mean little to God (Matthew 6:7-8). He may not speak to you in an audible voice but He knows how to speak to your heart.
and turn from their wicked ways . . .
Let’s face it once and for all church. If I may borrow from the lyrics of that popular classic Nat King Cole song of yesteryear, it’s time for us to “straighten up and fly right.” I have counseled so many people over my many years as a pastor (including myself) who want God’s blessings in life but they don’t want to give up their sinful ways and be obedient to Christ’s commands (John 15:9-10). Sometimes pastors hesitate to even mention sin in their sermons for fear of offending some in their congregations. Well my friends, sin is sin, whether we like the word or not. So let’s stop it and do what is right, so God can bless us.
then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.
That’s what God did when we came to Jesus Christ. We heard the message of His forgiveness and He heard our prayer of repentance and we received His free gift of grace and He healed our lives. He saved us for all eternity.
Can there be any doubt that the Lord of the Universe, who holds all things in His hands, desires to answer our prayers if we will but ask and keep on asking in faith believing?
Let’s make a renewed covenant of prayer today that we’ll meet those conditions and receive the promises. Maranatha!
To help us walk closer with God and to know Him better.