By Steven Thompson
Most of us have witnessed a toddler trying to gain the undivided attention of a pre-occupied parent who is engrossed is conversation, watching TV, reading, or busy working. The child who is wanting something or seeking attention, jerks the attending parent’s clothing to magnify their request. Parents become more attentive as the child’s voice amplifies and the clothing stretches.
Our upcoming presidential election reminds me of this child parent scenario. Whenever an election arrives Christians begin quoting a familiar Old Testament Scripture: “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 7:14 NIV) God made this promises to Jewish people and today we often claim it for our own land. I personally think that God will forgive and heal a community, a church, a family or an individual if they will follow this command.
So what must we do to find forgiveness and healing? Humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways. Most of this passage is clear to us except for the command to “seek God’s face.” What does that mean? If we pray aren’t we already seeking God’s face? Could it be that God is so preoccupied with all the matters of this world that we need to amplify our voice and jerk on His pant leg: Lord! Lord!! Lord!!!
It feels like that sometimes, we pray asking God to meet a need or change circumstances, and it’s as if He doesn’t hear us. Someone has wisely stated that prayer is more for us, than it is for God. I believe one of the reasons our loving God invented prayer was to help us open up our sequestered souls to Him, and to ourselves.
The ultimate goal found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is that God’s people will “turn from their wicked ways.” Turning from our sin and repenting takes courage, humility, and lots of cooperation with God as He guides and empowers us. Only those of us who are serious about repentance will ever see it through to completion.
When less than honorable motives are hidden within us, God often allows silence so we will fervently seek Him. When a child is desperate for a parent to hear them they do whatever is necessary to gain their parent’s attention. When we get serious about sin we too will put forth the necessary effort to obtain a reply from God. Jeremiah 29:13 states, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (NIV)
My personal belief is that God wants me to display my sincerity toward repentance, before He will acknowledges His presence in the matter. One way for me to display that sincerity is to metaphorically grasp God’s pant leg and jerk until He responds. God’s temporary silence toward my prayers is more often about my need to get serious about repenting, than it is about God’s need for my attention.