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“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I thought I would bring this blog series to an end this week by returning to the subject of grace where I began. I will still do that in a few weeks. But as I prayed about it I sensed God pressing 2 Chronicles 7:14 upon my heart.

It may seem strange to you that I would separate out a series of blog entries on the foundations of prayer. Isn't everything I write in a blog, titled Watching In Prayer, to some extent foundational to prayer? I certainly hope so. That is my intention. But I have been encouraged by certain theological and spiritual truths which shape prayer. And this Old Testament passage gives us several of these basic principles.

We will start with the words, "If my people." Prayer is to be intimate communication between God and His people. There is no question that God called out Israel to be His special people. But 1 Peter 2:9-10 applies Old Testament phrases spoken to Israel to the church.

"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set aside as his own."

Several important questions arise from this truth. 

"Am I willing to belong to Him, or am I my own person?"

"Have I become a child of God?"

And "Do I think and pray and try to live as if I belonged to God?"

These questions are foundational to all prayer. The creator of time and matter and the vast expanse of space, the author of all that lives and breathes and wills and thinks, is not your assistant. Either you belong to Him or you do not know Him at all.

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Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on November 5, 2015 at 7:50am

I think this passage has much to say even about what it looks like to be God's person.  It involves humility, turning away from sin and toward him, seeking his face rather than his hands (that is, seeking him for who he is rather than what he can do for us).

I also believe there's a reason why the first action in the verse is to humble ourselves.  Nothing else commanded of us will happen while we are still living in pride - including and maybe especially pride in our own spirituality.  Humility - acknowledging that God is the center of the universe rather than me and admitting that I need him - is what leads me to turn to him in the first place.  Seeing myself as I really am - a sinner in need of and saved by God's grace - is one of the true foundations of prayer.

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