S198P2 – When God’s people pray: the humble cry

2 Chr. 7:11-14

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.”

I was a pretty stubborn kid, and I wanted to show people I could do everything on my own. Of course, there were many times when I realized the impossibility of the task at hand and was forced to seek help to complete it. I have seen the same desire in those of the next generation who insist they are big enough to tie their own shoes without my help. As adults, we have the option to step in right away or to allow the child to recognize his or her inability and then voluntarily seek help. It is a game we might find ourselves playing with our heavenly Father during this time we call adulthood. Many are the times I have tried to fix the problem myself only to realize that I did not have the answer and needed to ask for his help. It is the building of humility that lets us acknowledge how we are lacking and accept that helping hand.

Humility is foundational to prayer. In today’s passage, it relates specifically to the evil ways of those who should obey God and follow him instead of their own desires and their own sinfulness. God illustrates what will happen when they disobey as well as the remedy once they are humble enough to admit that their ways are wrong and turn to him. The prayers we send up to God can have nothing to do with pride explicitly yet help us build humility through those prayers. Even the simple act of sincerely praying is a humble step itself because it requires the admission that we cannot do it on our own. This specific promise to a specific people here carries a general principle for all who seek God in prayer. It takes the request of a humble heart to move the Father to act.

God is not the one who takes care of our light work. We do not go to him to fill the gaps we could fill ourselves but simply do not have the time or desire to fill. God is the one who does our heavy lifting because we simply are not able. The thing is, his answers to our prayers are a testimony to him in many ways. If we expect his faithfulness when we come with proud hearts and a lack of appreciation for our lowliness, we very well might walk away disappointed. Asking God to come to our aid will be fruitful only if we recognize our need for him and his ways, and our position in relation to him. Father, remind us to remain humble before You without pretense and without shame when we reach out in our times of need.