“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 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.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
I’ve seen this passage referenced many times during the past several weeks. It is familiar to me, and quite special because I grew up hearing my mom and her sisters sing a popular trio in our church that is based on these words. I love the verses and the song, but sometimes I don’t understand it. I struggle deeply with prayer. Several of the Devotable authors are putting out a book on prayer, but it’s difficult to think I will ever be comfortable with my prayer life.
I’ve lived with an awareness of my infertility for 10 years. Nearly 120 months of unanswered prayer is not easy to reconcile with my God, who I know is faithful. I’ve learned an incredible amount of wisdom during this time, but my mind plays tricks on me. I’ve started to believe that God wants to bless everyone but me. I must be doing something wrong. Although I know I am a sinner, I know this mindset is not the whole perspective of God on my life. It’s simply not true to His Word or His nature.
So I decided to do some extra study on these verses. I learned that God said these words in response to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple. The first idea for the temple came in 2 Samuel 7:13. David said, “see now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” David saw what he had, and he was thankful. That thankfulness turned into action and blessings from God. Although David did not get to build the temple, he gathered the supplies. God promised that David’s family would sit on the throne of Israel forever – a picture of Christ to come.
David’s son Solomon built the temple, and at the dedication of the temple in 2 Chronicles 6, he asked God to bless His people by blessing the temple. This would be the place where the Israelites would pray for wisdom and relief from distress. His prayer of dedication covered many topics, but I began to see that specifically he prayed about everything in God’s answer.
- Listening to the prayers made in the temple (6:21)
- forgiveness (6:21)
- drought, locusts and pestilence (6:28)
I’d never thought about this passage that way before. Solomon prayed, and God answered his specifics. Then God reminded me of something that has become very near and dear to my heart: I am the temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” Every day I need to think like David and pray like Solomon. I must dedicate myself to the Lord intentionally and not let my thoughts stray from the truth.
God Answers Prayer in His Own Time
I’m still struggling and learning. When I have trouble beginning a prayer, I will spend several minutes writing down what I am thankful for. If I do this, I can cultivate an attitude of trust in God’s faithfulness so I can begin to bring my specific requests to Him. I pray, and God answers in His time. Never yet with a child, but with contentment and intimacy.
The next few verses in the passage are not as commonly known, so I challenge you to memorize them as well. We can treasure them as God’s blessing for us, His “temples.” “Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.” 2 Chronicles 7:15-16