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. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
These two well known verses from 2 Chronicles are God’s response to Solomon’s prayer of dedication to the temple in Jerusalem that he has just built for God. In God’s response he says that during times of moral decline and lack of spiritual concern, he sometimes judges his people through drought, disease, economic collapse or by withholding certain blessings. God’s promise to hear, respond and intervene-though originally given to Israel-applies to his people of every generation who meet the following four conditions. To bring spiritual revival, renewed purpose and restored blessing believers must:
(1) “Humble themselves”. God’s people must recognize their failures and inabilities, show true sorrow for their sin and renew their commitment to follow God’s desires, plans and purposes. Humbling oneself means recognizing one’s spiritual poverty and desperate need for God’s mercy.
(2) “Pray”. God’s people must desperately call on him for mercy and must completely trust and depend on him for help. The prayer must come from a faithful heart, and we must continue to call out to God until he answers.
(3) “Seek my face”. God’s people must turn toward God and seek God’s presence with passion. They must no do this selfish reasons or simply to avoid difficulty or disaster, but so that they can fulfill his purposes and advance his kingdom.
(4) “Turn from their wicked ways”. God’s people must genuinely repent (turn back, make a complete change) for going their own way and resisting the will of God. This involves confessing and forsaking specific sins and anything that has taken priority over God. It also means depending on God for mercy, forgiveness and spiritual cleansing. People who are determined to maintain their commitment to God through times of national spiritual rebellion and wickedness should pray that God might inspire widespread spiritual revival through his faithful followers.
When God’s four conditions for spiritual revival and restoration are met, then God’s three-part promise of revival will be fulfilled. (1) God will not be angry with his people, but instead he will listen to their desperate prayers. The first evidence of revival is that God begins to answer prayer and responds with compassion toward his followers.
(2) God will forgive his people and cleanse them spiritually. He will restore his favor, presence, peace, truth and power among them.
(3) God will heal and refresh his people spiritually. He will pour out the Holy Spirit in order to bring a spiritual awaking among his people and spiritual salvation among those who do not yet know him. He will refresh their land by again pouring out rain (physical favor and blessing).
For more information see blog posts entitled “If God’s People” or visit amazon.com and search for “If God’s People” to purchase my book based on today’s passage.