Have you received one of those emails that quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 at the top of the post? I don’t have one in front of me because, after reading it the first time, I quickly deleted any duplicate copies. Besides, these emails distress me. The originator of the email meant well and is on the right path. Citizens of the United States do need to pray for our nation. Yet using this Scripture as a proof text for praying for our nation’s success is misleading and short-sighted, I believe. Here’s why:
Posts like the current one that is circulating insinuate that the United States of America is a privileged, blessed people. “If my people who are called by my name” refers to the Old Testament nation of Israel. Today, it refers to Christians, no matter what nationality. I remember the beautiful feeling I had when I sat in a circle in Vienna Austria with believers from all over the world. The comment was made that we were not citizens of the United States, Bulgaria, Poland and so forth. We were citizens of one kingdom, the Kingdom of God and thus, equal in the sight of God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is addressed to God-believers no matter what nation, no matter what foundation of faith their nation has been built upon. The United States of America does not have the corner market on faith in Jesus Christ, nor does God view us as any better than believers in any other country.
These posts also emphasize one part and maybe two of God’s conditions. We jump to the phrase “pray.” We take a passing glance at the phrase “humble themselves” since praying does take a certain amount of humility. Asking God for His help and blessing admits that I cannot do it on my own, that I need God to succeed. That is a good thing. Prayer and humility go hand in hand.
Yet, we stop there. We ignore the next two phrases, “seek My Face” and “turn from their wicked ways.” “Seek My face” means more than just “getting to know you” as Debra Carr sings in “The King and I.” The phrase, “seek My face” biblically means to earnestly look for ways to please God. This definition is confirmed by the next phrase in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “turn from their wicked ways.”
Our nation will not be blessed by God until we individually and corporately seek the face of God and turn from our wicked ways. I’m not even going to get into finger pointing and discussing how our government and culture has strayed far from the ways of God. I’m concerned about individual Christians. Remember who “my people” are! Too many American Christians are like the Israelites in the prophet Elijah’s time. We’ve got one foot on God’s side and the other foot kneeling toward the Baals of our culture. We need to make a choice. Who will we serve, wholeheartedly, unswervingly? We need to ask God to search our hearts to see if there is any wicked way in us and seek His guidance toward the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23,24).
If we do this, our culture will change. If we are willing to stand up for our faith, in all facets of our lives, the world will sit up and take notice. At first, we may suffer the slings and arrows of an outraged media. But soon, if we live consistently, we will begin to have impact on our culture and corporately, our nation will turn and start the uphill climb back toward God. I truly believe that many Christians are ridiculed because they say one thing about Jesus and do another.
The change will start with our children They’ll learn from our example of what is important to us. They’ll learn to make wise choices, to seek God, to turn away from wickedness. They’ll put God first above ball games, relationships, Nintendo, and addictions because they see Mom, Dad and Teacher living what they believe.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12)” is printed on a t-shirt I recently bought. Let each one of us do our part to show our children and the rest of our culture that God comes first in our lives – above all else. Then our nation will be blessed.