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 will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)
In our journey through this verse, discovering some of the essential conditions for answered prayer, we have now reached the uncomfortable part.
Turn From Their Wicked Ways
Believers are very happy talking about the dreadful state of society and blaming the godlessness of our culture on the sins of this and previous generations. We bemoan the standards of sexual ethics, the ridicule of Christians in the media, the madness of scientists who want to create human-animal hybrids, the breakdown of family life and the growing dependence on drugs and alcohol. We want to see change and we pray for those caught up in sin, that they would turn from their wicked ways to the Lord Jesus.
But that is not what this verse is talking about for it is not calling on worldly people to repent, but God's own people. It's easy for us to blame others for the state of our nations, but the Lord puts the onus and responsibility on us. In this verse we are not told to preach repentance. Instead, we ourselves are called to turn away from our own wickedness.
Most of us present a nice, tidy front to our fellow believers on a Sunday morning and Wednesday night. I'm sure I'm not the only married person to have a falling out with their spouse just before going to church, smile my way through the service, and continue with the row in the car on the way home. None of us want other believers, who all appear to have got their act together, to know what we're really like under the surface.
But God knows. He knows when when we fail to submit to our husbands or love our wives sacrificially; He knows when we use the phone at work for personal calls; He knows when we waste hours on computer games or surfing the net for images we should not allow ourselves to see; He knows when we gossip or store up hatred in our hearts; He knows when we look on others with judgment and condemnation instead of love and compassion; He knows our righteousness is nothing better than filthy rags.
When Paul wrote Gal 5:16-26 and listed everything from sexual immorality to drunkenness with idolatry, discord, envy and other forms of depravity, he knew very well that he was speaking to Christians who, even as believers, were capable of falling into such sin. We, like them, need to be warned to turn away from our wicked ways. We cannot expect God to respond to our prayers for those lost in sin if we are perpetuating sin in our own lives.
Prayer College Assignment
The history of revivals shows that any genuine movement of the Spirit of God always begins with a renewed sense of the awfulness of sin and true repentance amongst God's people, usually accompanied by great remorse & weeping. If we want to see others coming to faith and our nations changed we have to heed the condition that we turn from our own wicked ways. This Easter take time to ask the Lord to show you something within yourself which requires repentance and change.