This past Sunday at Highpoint Church, we started a 40-day emphasis called "The 7:14 Experiment." The idea came from the book The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. The goal is to rally our church to pray in a very intentional way. Very simply praying in the attitude and posture of 2 Chronicles 7:14, "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 will forgive their sin and heal their land." Even if you don't attend Highpoint, this prayer emphasis may be a needed step in your journey with Christ.
Let's understand this passage phrase by phrase...
"If my people who are called by my name..."
God establishes a condition here. He invites us to step into the attitude and posture of those who are dependent on Him. He refers to "my people" as a reference to those who are connected in relationship to Him, i.e. "called by my name." There are positive consequences "IF" we go His way.
Hands down, this is one of the most challenging issues for us as sinful, selfish people. We don't want humility. We want pride. We want attention. We want OUR way. Yet here God invites us away from selfishness and into humility. Humility postures us to recognize God as Almighty, Powerful, In control, and Sovereign. So, "IF" we humble ourselves, there is a promise attached...but first...
Humility drives us to a place where we bring God the matters, we once attempted to handle on our own. What our insecurities, selfishness, pride and arrogance fought to achieve, we humble ourselves and petition God based on the confidence of His love for us. We must pray. We must talk it over with God. We must recognize HE is God and we are not. ...but there's more...
"and seek my face"
The simple fact that He directs us to seek His face means we are seeking something else. This is a corrective statement. Think about what you are seeking. Is it the face of God? Why would we seek God's face? Because it's a relational command. I often tell my children to look at me. Why? Because I don't just want them to hear me; I want them to see me. To look in my eyes and read my face, to connect my heart with my words. So, our heavenly Father is no different. He wants us to seek HIM, not simply His blessings. It's easy to seek His hands (what He does for me) and seeking His heart (who He is to me). And yet, there is more...
"and turn from their wicked ways..."
This is where our seeking of God becomes practical. We must recognize the Holiness of God. The desire for God and the desire for sin are incompatible. In order to seek God, we must "turn from our wicked ways" (AKA repentance) or else our "seeking" is just talk. Every one of us should welcome the spotlight of God to illuminate our wicked ways in order to turn from them. I hate to see my junk as much as you, but it's part of the path of seeking God. What do you need to turn from?
"then I will hear from heaven..."
The condition is followed by God's attentive ear. A basic theological reality is that God gives His attention to the humble. He listens to us. God hears prayer. Do you have this confidence when you pray? Do you pray humbly and boldly, knowing God is listening?
"and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
His hearing comes with a response. He is not passive. He is not unable. He loves to forgive. He loves to bring healing to people. God answers prayer! Do you believe this? Praying changes things...don't ask me how all that works with the Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent God...but it does. I believe we lack certain things from God because we fail to ask, and our asking is less than humble. I think God gets lots of prayers that are really statements of independence shrouded in pious language. We should truly obey this passage and humble ourselves.
Take the challenge.
An intentional time of prayer is the central discipline of the "7:14 Experiment." The goal would be to establish a time each day to literally get on your knees to pray and embody the attitude and posture of this passage. That's right, on your knees. Praying on your knees doesn't make you more spiritual. It does; however, serve as a physical reminder of your place in the presence of the Living God. Will you take the challenge? Take a moment - even 5 minutes - to pray on your knees. Confess and forsake your sins before God. Ask God to work mightily in your life and those around you. Take time to pray for those needs you are aware of in your family, friends and church's life.
Here are some specific things to pray about for Highpoint Church.
- Holy Week: Pray for hundreds of people to trust Christ and follow the Lord in baptism.
- New Series in April - Potential: Can you still fulfill?: Pray for every Highpointer to make specific commitments and actions to fulfill their potential in Christ.
- Building for the Future: Pray for us to purchase Briarcrest by the end of May and begin renovations this summer.
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