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Reading 2 Chronicles 7 today, I came across the familiar words of verse 14: "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 will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land."

I hear this verse used often in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer and other nation-centered prayer movements and I wonder about what this would really look like today.  I'm interested in some responses to these thoughts.

At the time of Solomon's dedication of the Temple, the phrase "heal their land" would have had a quite literal meaning and would have had a significant impact on national prosperity as well as individual livelihoods.  Today, we do not live off the land in the same way - most of us participate in a much more indirect economy.  The phrase "heal their land" doesn't seem to me to carry the same meaning for us as it would have for the Israelites, who were dependent on the land for their very survival.  Not that we don't have a certain amount of dependence on good crops, etc. - but most of us are not farmers and much of our food is manufactured these days.  So, if we were to apply this verse to ourselves today, what would "heal their land" look like?  In what ways is our "land" sick?

Second thought.  We tend to apply this verse nationally, as it was originally applied to the nation of Israel.  But I wonder if that's the best parallel and the best application?  While I don't question that God has blessed America and put this country in a position of unique influence and potential influence in the world, I don't think any of us would argue that America is God's "chosen people" in the same way that Israel was (or is, depending on your viewpoint).  In fact, the closest thing today to a "chosen people" (again, depending on your interpretation) would be the Church, not the United States.  Who would better fit the description of "my people, called by my name?"

So I wonder if today the best application of this verse is to the Church, not to the US.  And I wonder if the "healing of our land" might have to do with the fruitfulness of the Church's ministry - the results of our evangelism, the effectiveness of our community outreach programs, etc.

Obviously, I don't insist on this interpretation, but it seems to me to fit the context and the intent of the original better than the typical application.  Interested to hear some other thoughts.  Thanks!

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Those are good thoughts, and the article is highly encouraging!

James Glynn said:

Well, yes and no. Why not apply 2 Chron 7 to the Church? It certainly has to be true that if those called by His Name would humble themselves and pray, He would heal THEM too. Yet the current stories of revivals being reported by George Otis Jr and others seems to demonstrate that when God’s people, even just a very small number of them, could be pastors or not pastors, could be children...when they humble themselves and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, that He does come and do many powerful things INCLUDING restoration of land and rivers and seas and crops and climate and planting/harvest cycles...we’re seeing these very amazing transformations more and more. In any case, the pre-condition is the same. God’s people, the ones called by His name, they do the seeking and repenting and turning and praying...then watch what happens. Just read this from CharismaNews... Prayer: the Key to Pentecostal Revival

great insights...  Solomon's request for forgiveness on behalf of the Israelites, confirms the prayer "Father forgive us, for we don't know what we do"... 

 

also, the insight that it needs to happen individually (first) as well is so important... a few weeks ago, we (some intercessors at the local prayer center) were talking about "houses of prayer", and how individually, as temples of the Holy Spirit, we need to individually become houses of prayer, before that can happen at a congregation and Church wide level... 

 

bless all your hearts for your commitment to being "houses of prayer"...

Dale Hardy said:

Hi Andrew,

As a person who studied this verse for 9 months to figure out what it means.  Here are a few thoughts:

First, the words Heal our land has a precedent in chapter 6.  Chapter 6 is Solomon's prayer for the temple.  He used this phrase several times in the chapter.  In almost every case it was for forgiveness of the people.  Therefore it could easily refer to the Israelites on a national level.  For us, I believe, that although we don't understand the import of the words, it does refer to us as a nation.

Second, but first I believe 2 Chron. 7:14 does refer to the individual first.  I know, I know it says people, but as you read the verse carefully I believe it has to be applied the individual and then the nation.

Third, the verse is ofter read with some haste in order to get to the heal our land.  To me that misses the key import of the verse.  When start with a sermon, talk, etc. about heal our land the prerequistes are ignored.  Let me show a little bit of what I mean. 

"If... " A conditional word that asks the question what is the if there for.  The if is there because it has some things that are coming that need to be payed attention to.

"my..." A word of ownership.  I have a Toyota Camry and it's mine (and well the banks).  It belongs to me, I own it.  It's mine.  You get the idea that the if is there to give impact to the words "my people"  I believe that these words were written to those who have settle the question of ownership.  Therefore if the condition is settled then you are able to go to the rest of the verse.

Well there are my thoughts in brief.  I lead prayer experiences that teach about this verse and also spend time in prayer.

Dale

Bev,

I get what you're saying and I agree there needs to be a balance between seeking God's face and yet also bringing our specific needs to him.  I suspect, however, that the balance is far more toward the end of the spectrum of seeking God's face than most of us (myself included) actually practice.

This is getting a little off the original topic, but when I look at Matthew 6, I see encouragement in the Lord's Prayer both to seek God's honor and to present our daily needs to him.  As I look further down Matthew 6, I see more of an emphasis on seeking first his kingdom and trusting him to provide for our needs (6:33). 

As I look at the prayers of Paul for the churches, I see no examples of praying for specific physical needs.  I see instead kingdom-centered prayers for their spiritual growth, etc.  (For an excellent discussion on these prayers, see Jon Graf's Praying Like Paul).  Again, I don't think that the lack of personal prayers is an indication that we should not pray that way, but I suspect that in general we pray far too much on the temporal side and not enough on the eternal side.

Getting back to 2 Chronicles 7, I suspect that it's the kingdom-centered prayers that are really going to move God's hand to bring healing to our "land" - however we interpret that - more so than the "heal my cold, get me a job, and make my kids behave" type prayers (though I believe God is also concerned about those things and they should be subjects of prayer for us).  Jon Graf makes the point that our prayers tend to be centered around asking God to fix things rather than asking him to mature and grow us (see James 1).  Again, I do believe there's a balance there, but based on the types of prayer requests we receive in our prayer ministry at church, I doubt if we're close to hitting it.

Bev Sterk said:

I think 2 Chron 7:14 is a lifestyle, that we can only live with the power of the Holy Spirit...  if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt 6:33), then we will most likely also be following 2 Chron 7:14, and He promises to take care of all that other stuff like "heal our land", right?.  Hmmm I haven't really looked specifically at these 2 in parallel before...

Does the seeking His face have to be completely exclusive from His hand for this healing to happen?  I'm not so sure based on I Chron 16:11,  should it be the primary reason you spend with Him? probably, since that is what is specifically mentioned in 2 Chron 7:14...  I've heard that phrase before "we only seek Your face, we do not seek Your hand" and I'd be interested in further discussion of that for a better understanding on what is meant by that, is it only in specific situations/context like 2 Chron 7:14, or ???...

God is good for Who He is, and that should be enough for us to worship Him with our highest praise... but He is also good for what He did for us, and for what He can do for us...  however, we do tend to get out of balance on the what He can do for us, as you suggested...  The most enduring reason we have to worship Him is because He is worthy, and that is Who He is...  everything else is a bonus, because He is a loving and generous God... Thank You Jesus!

 

hope that makes sense!! =)

 

 

thanks for your reply...  yes, I agree, our requests tend to primarily be "fix it" prayers, and I have shared that frustration with my pastor, to help us as a congregation to get beyond 90% of the prayers being for peoples surgeries, health, etc., and so it seems we (modern church) are still a ways off from primarily seeking His Kingdom first in our prayers...  I am currently working on writing an article to differentiate between personal prayers and communal prayers, what kind of prayers are more suitable for small groups and individuals, and which ones for larger group and communal settings... so I will probably have to look into that book you mention =)

 

Yes, i think Matt 6:33 is somewhat of a parallel verse with 2 Chron 7:14, same idea, just said in a different way...

thanks for the "sharpening" discussion


Andrew R. Wheeler said:

Bev,

I get what you're saying and I agree there needs to be a balance between seeking God's face and yet also bringing our specific needs to him.  I suspect, however, that the balance is far more toward the end of the spectrum of seeking God's face than most of us (myself included) actually practice.

This is getting a little off the original topic, but when I look at Matthew 6, I see encouragement in the Lord's Prayer both to seek God's honor and to present our daily needs to him.  As I look further down Matthew 6, I see more of an emphasis on seeking first his kingdom and trusting him to provide for our needs (6:33). 

As I look at the prayers of Paul for the churches, I see no examples of praying for specific physical needs.  I see instead kingdom-centered prayers for their spiritual growth, etc.  (For an excellent discussion on these prayers, see Jon Graf's Praying Like Paul).  Again, I don't think that the lack of personal prayers is an indication that we should not pray that way, but I suspect that in general we pray far too much on the temporal side and not enough on the eternal side.

Getting back to 2 Chronicles 7, I suspect that it's the kingdom-centered prayers that are really going to move God's hand to bring healing to our "land" - however we interpret that - more so than the "heal my cold, get me a job, and make my kids behave" type prayers (though I believe God is also concerned about those things and they should be subjects of prayer for us).  Jon Graf makes the point that our prayers tend to be centered around asking God to fix things rather than asking him to mature and grow us (see James 1).  Again, I do believe there's a balance there, but based on the types of prayer requests we receive in our prayer ministry at church, I doubt if we're close to hitting it.

Bev Sterk said:

I think 2 Chron 7:14 is a lifestyle, that we can only live with the power of the Holy Spirit...  if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt 6:33), then we will most likely also be following 2 Chron 7:14, and He promises to take care of all that other stuff like "heal our land", right?.  Hmmm I haven't really looked specifically at these 2 in parallel before...

Does the seeking His face have to be completely exclusive from His hand for this healing to happen?  I'm not so sure based on I Chron 16:11,  should it be the primary reason you spend with Him? probably, since that is what is specifically mentioned in 2 Chron 7:14...  I've heard that phrase before "we only seek Your face, we do not seek Your hand" and I'd be interested in further discussion of that for a better understanding on what is meant by that, is it only in specific situations/context like 2 Chron 7:14, or ???...

God is good for Who He is, and that should be enough for us to worship Him with our highest praise... but He is also good for what He did for us, and for what He can do for us...  however, we do tend to get out of balance on the what He can do for us, as you suggested...  The most enduring reason we have to worship Him is because He is worthy, and that is Who He is...  everything else is a bonus, because He is a loving and generous God... Thank You Jesus!

 

hope that makes sense!! =)

 

 

I am not a man of great learnig but God ordered me to pray. People started praying in Genesis 4:26. If 2 Chronicle 7:14 includes those people I assume that God listens to saved and unsaved. In 1994 genocide took place in our country and God commanded me " Pray pouring blood of Jesus everywhere you go for demons are everywhere...." Blood of Jesus was cleaning genocide effects Numbers 35:33,34.God revealed to me " Demons are burnt in these areas (Land)....." When I poured blood on names of people. God revealed " demons are attacking you..". I still apply the blood of Jesus in prayers. When I do that God heals the land including people not church people alone. People are saved and believers are protected and strengthened in faith.

My point is " If my people...I will heal the land..." God heals both people and the land. God,  in great love, will hear believers and unbelievers and will heal the land/peope they all live on. I have tried to use Gen. 4:26 and 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Acts 12:5. Prosperity is not in the USA alone it  is distrbuted to every man in any country. We must be careful in order to apply Micah 6:8 "Heal their land", would mean " to produce love -Mark 12:30,31  or Matt. 6:33 in our hearts/land according to the sower in the parable -path, rocky places, thorns and good soils in Matt. 13:3-9 ;our land is our hearts in those old days of King Solomon and today. Prosperity is in every country because believers/church are not in the USA or anywhere only. Let our land mean our land/hearts.May God hear and heal THEM . Amen.

 

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