A Day To Pray

I am an intercessor, which means I pray a lot for others. It is not some religious exercise I attempt, but more like an ongoing conversation with God. My heart breaks when people are hurting, my soul rejoices when they rejoice. I cannot seem to stop that compassion from happening, and so, I consider it a gift. There are times when God wakes me to pray for someone specifically, or in the middle of the day I feel overwhelmed to lift up a friend. I do not always know why I am praying, in fact most times I know none of the details. I simply talk to him about what he puts on my heart, and most of the time, that is scripture. I learned long ago that his words are far superior to mine, and that to “know the riches of your glorious inheritance” is far better than to “let them have a good day.” Hear the difference? See the richness of praying his words? They are more meaningful and usually go to the heart of the issue.
Today is the National Day of Prayer. As an intercessor, I am all for it. Our country needs healing. However, before you say your hearty “amen” I would like to look at the scripture that we use on this day. It starts like this, “”I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so there is no rain, or send locusts to devour the land, or send a plague among the people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-15
I love these verses. They come to Solomon in the night, just after the dedication of the temple. (I always love it when God speaks in the night…it’s just so stinking personal.) Just a few verses before, Solomon calls down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifices, and the glory of God fills the temple to the point that the priests and even the musicians cannot minister. His presence is that beautiful and powerful…they are at a loss. Now that is what I call a worship service! The words God speaks to Solomon after this glorious day, are those above. Basically God is saying he has chosen this place, the temple, in which to dwell.
The next verse says WHEN I shut up the heavens, or send locusts, or a plague…not if. WHEN. So I ask, how does this apply to me today and I can SEE that no rain means more than no rain. It means I will be thirsty for his living water. Locusts mean more than bugs eating crops. It means my security will be eaten away, what I save up, all that I count on to feed my soul will be gone. I will be spiritually hungry. A plague among the people, means more than a plague. It means we will be overcome with something that will destroy us, every house…just and unjust alike. Say pride for example…prevalent and pervasive throughout the land, from both the pulpit and the podium.
Then we get to the verse we all know and quote. IF my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land. It is an if/then statement and it is for those called by his name…not the general population. His directive is for me, as a follower of Jesus, to humble myself by praying and seeking his face, as Jesus did. I cannot humble you, you cannot humble me. I cannot point to others who are not like me and demand they become like me. It won’t happen. I don’t care to which group you belong. Pride does not induce humility. Only being on my face before God and allowing him to do his work on ME will bring love to the world around me. Then, because when I do that he shows me areas in which I am not in unity with his heart, I release it to him and turn into his grace…his outstretched arms. Once I lay myself, and my selfishness down, THEN he hears, forgives and heals…me. He heals me.
In turn, once those called by his name are healed, then the land is healed…not the other way around. The land cannot be healed first, because it is made up of damaged people, many of whom claim his name and many that do not. He hears me when I come to him individually, listen to what he has to say, and respond to it. He hears every individual and when there is a corporate brokenness and humility, he moves with compassion. And compassion is what our country needs. So as we pray this day, let us remember to humble ourselves FIRST.

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