IF ONLY

WEEK TWO, DAY FIVE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION

WEEK TWO THEME: PRAYER

DAY FIVE THEME: WHEN WE DON’T PRAY

SCRIIPTURE: II CHRONICLES 7:14 (CEB)

“If my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!

SOAKING IT UP: We have spent 15 posts covering the theme of PRAYER (a five day study in the CEB Companion). During the time that these blogs have been dedicated to prayer, a lot of historical and hurtful things have been going on in our country – the USA – as well as around the world. The first post on prayer was on May 4. On May 4, George Floyd was still alive and well. On May 4, Ahmaud Arbury’s murderers were still free and feeling justified in their actions, but on May 5, the video of Ahmaud’s shooting went viral followed by outrage. Then with the 8 minute, 46 second killing of George Floyd on May 25, the dam simply broke and the outrage swelled both in the protests and sadly the violence – and hearts have broken everywhere and all this amidst the ongoing pandemic of Covid 19! Change must come!!! I find myself agreeing with one of the most touching sentiments I have read has been on Facebook – “All lives can’t matter until Black lives do” all along side of “Wash your hands like your Mom is watching!” God help us all – we are truly in chaotic times!!! Our God conquers chaos and turns it into a thing of beauty! We must learn to love unconditionally because our Heavenly Father IS watching!! !

In II Chronicles 7:14, God gives a huge and simple directive here for answered prayer and the healing of the nation.  Humbly pray, seek God’s face and turn from wickedness.  The first assumption is that we belong to God in the first place, “if my people, who belong to me”…  Can we be God’s people and not humbly pray?  Aren’t the people of God always about the business of seeking God’s face?  Haven’t God’s people already turned from their wicked ways?  This one tiny piece of a scripture is showing us in that it is a very slippery slope maintaining our perspective even after we have understood and accepted God’s authority and power in our lives. 

The obvious tendency and I can certainly speak personally, is to do all the right things outwardly and let go of the personal connection inwardly.  I have missed few Sundays over my whole life attending worship (until the Covid Crackdown)- singing the songs and bowing during the prayers and doing my best to be fully present during the entire worship experience.  I have felt moved by the Spirit of God during certain points of the sermon or through a song being sung.  I have remembered that I am His and He is mine… but then I leave…I return to “my” world which may not include so much worship in the day to day.  I assume that everything that I participated in prayer for on Sunday is being worked out by God Monday through Saturday and we will revisit it again next Sunday.  I let God do His thing and I do mine.  I charge on ahead into my needs and wants and itinerary and forget. I fail to offer one more prayer of any kind other than a blessing at meal time, or in a hurry here or there.

I need to think a lot about what it means to “seek God’s face”.  One idea from a quick Google search says to seek God’s face is to seek his presence.  My prayers have often been beamed up to where I imagine God is rather than trying to actually be in His presence myself.  Seeking God’s face in the midst of my prayers would certainly require a lot more of my energy than pushing for the needs and wants list which so often comprises my prayer time.  It has been easy to use “MY” prayer time for ME, rather than seek God. Do we ever wonder what is on God’s mind and heart. Do we ever think of God – our Heavenly Father – our Creator – other than “our” super large Santa Clause?

Next comes the “turning from my wicked ways” part.  Now it has transitioned from deeper prayer time to actually making changes within myself in pursuit of the type of true living I am actually craving. Who has time for all this self-evaluation and change stuff? Isn’t that asking a bit much – I mean doesn’t God love us “just as we are”. Of course He does! But when we allow God to draw near – as we humble our selves and seek his face and turn from wickedness – the changes needed will be obvious. They may be rooted in deep and lifelong tradition, or a total misunderstanding of who God really is – regardless the reason, as God changes our heart, our actions must follow! 

God gives a simple three part formula in II Chronicles that seems automatic to any Christian, but when put under the microscope of day to day living is actually very difficult to do.  I have often read this scripture with a feeling of sadness from God.  It is as if God is saying “if ONLY” my people who already know me and believe in me would just take this relationship seriously.  The requirements are simple. 

First, just take the moment or two to humbly pray – putting aside selfishness and bitterness and superiority and recognize God as Lord of All, that God is God and that I am not.  Use prayer as a time to be in God’s presence fully not superficially, but wholly present with Him and allowing Him to be wholly present with me, seeking His face, knowing his thoughts and worshiping Him personally OFTEN…such a privilege! 

And then turn – repent, letting go of all wickedness whether it be present in the form of bitterness, or hatred, or selfishness, or anger, or any other form of righteous indignation.  Letting it all go and letting this personal God, our Father, take care of it all rather than demanding my own way.  Allowing my humanness to yield to His Godness.  Watching clenched fists relax and open up in surrender and praise. This is peace.  This is wholeness, and this leads to national  wholeness and as we accept this wholeness for our selves and participate in it through our living, we become a living testimony and encourage others to do likewise.  One by one we join forces humbly praying in all things in God presence letting go of all other things and listening to and imitating God. 

Wholeness – healing – true living…the life that really is life.  Let it be so!

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