2 Chronicles 7:11-14
A casual observation of America reveals a severely broken culture. When Madonna declares that the Super Bowl is a worship service and she is the sermon, we know things are not the way they are supposed to be. Close to home we see our brightest and best fall in a war that many doubt is just, High School employees have sexual relations with students, people drive drunk, repeatedly, some with fatal consequences. Longtime employees embezzle from the restaurant that provided them opportunity, state politics turns into mud wrestling, national politics turns into – well, wrestling in worse than mud. Families are disintegrating, teens drop out of church, depression, anxiety and other emotional disorders are at an all-time high. Our land is sick and in need of a doctor.
As we consider from whence we have come, this state of affairs seems incongruent. Only two hundred years ago French culture analyst, Alexis de Tocqueville, declared that America was the most spiritual nation on earth. What happened to the hand of God that birthed a nation out of the quest for religious freedom and submission to Almighty God? Perhaps we can find some answers from the history of Israel.
The apex of the history of God’s people was the construction and dedication of the Temple, the place God chose to manifest his presence among his people. God filled it with his glory, precipitating a prayer from Solomon that stands as a model of humility and worship. During that prayer, Solomon prayed:
“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance. (2 Ch 6:26-27 NIV)
Solomon’s prayer was, in one sense, prophetic. Israel did sin and God did shut up the heavens, withholding his blessings from them. Solomon’s prayer was also intercessory. He prayed that when this happened, God in his mercy would forgive the people and restore his blessing – when they would pray and confess their sins. Direct hit!!! God must have been leading his king in this prayer because God affirms it in what has become the most beloved prayer promise found in 2 Chronicles.
When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace,the LORD appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2Ch 7:11-14 NIV)
Notice verse 13. God told Solomon that if (when) the people of God sinned against him, God would shut up the heavens so that there would be no blessing on the land. Isn’t that what America has done? And isn’t that what God has done? We have neglected the sanctity of life. We have abandoned the nuclear family, men have abdicated leadership, and, generally speaking, what God intended for good, we have turned into evil. As a consequence, God has shut up the heavens. There hasn’t been a significant wind of spiritual revival since the early ‘70’s when students on campuses all across this nation experienced a new Breath of spiritual renewal. Yet, in verse 14, God gave Solomon an answer to his prayer of 6:26-27. God promised Israel, and us, that if we humble ourselves, and pray and seek his face and turn from our wicked ways, God will hear from heaven, open heaven’s door of blessing, and heal our land.
Today is the National Day of Prayer. May I encourage you to take a few moments – more if you are able – and enter into prayer that God would hear from heaven and heal our land. God made a promise. Maybe the fulfillment will begin in your community.
- Read 1 John 1:8-10. What sins are in our lives that need to be confessed? We must have some. If we claim we don’t, we deceive ourselves. Ask God to search our hearts and then confess our sins, thanking God for the promise of his forgiveness.
- Read Daniel 9:4-19. Make this prayer your prayer for America. Realize that even though Daniel mentions the judgment of God on Jerusalem for their idolatry, the principles of acknowledging God’s rule and the consequences for rebelling against Him are universal truths and still apply to America, or any country.
- Notice this same type of model prayer in Nehemiah 1:1-11.